Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Streamlines and Breadlines
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

This lesson is divided into three sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


1. Bookmark the AMERICAN VISIONS Gallery Web pages that contain the following images:

Group A: Streamlines

  • The Voice of the City of New York Interpreted: The Bridge, 1920-22, Joseph Stella.

  • American Landscape, 1930, Charles Sheeler.

  • The Chrysler Building, New York, c. 1930, William Van Alen.

  • Icarus Atop Empire State Building, c. 1931, Lewis Hine.

  • Swing Landscape, 1938, Stuart Davis.

    Group B: Breadlines

  • Early Sunday Morning, 1930, Edward Hopper.

  • Village Speakeasy Closed for Violation, c. 1934, Ben Shahn.

  • The Migration of the Negro: Panel No. 15, 1940-41, Jacob Lawrence.

  • The Migration of the Negro: Panel No. 3, 1940-41, Jacob Lawrence.

  • The Street, 1985, Romare Bearden.

    2. Bookmark the Tenement VR Web site. ( Download QuickTime 2.5 and the appropriate Quicktime VR Plug-in for your browser in order to view this site as a navigable picture. Specific download instructions are given on the tenement VR site.

    3. Make printouts and/or photocopies of the images and text; this will help students compose their essays.


    The Web portion of this lesson should take two class periods. After viewing the Web sites and discussing some of the critical questions, students should have one to two periods to write their essay.

    Lesson Plan Procedure:

  • Day One: Students should read the following quote on the AMERICAN VISIONS site:

    "As America careened into the Great Depression of the '30s, there was one image of her engraved on the imagination of all foreigners. It was the skyscraper: sign of ambition, index to the power of Manhattan... The Manhattan skyscraper replaced the myth of frontier expansion... the conquest of the air, a landgrab in the sky." -- Robert Hughes, Art Critic and host of AMERICAN VISIONS (

    Using the Organizer for Students in this lesson, students should then view the Group A images from the AMERICAN VISIONS Gallery. After these images have been analyzed, a brief discussion may ensue using the questions listed in the Organizer.

  • Day Two: Students should read the following quote from AMERICAN VISIONS to frame their viewing.

    "In the mid- to late-1920s, New York, along with the rest of America, was in full economic boom. With only 4 percent unemployment and all markets careening upward, there seemed to be no end to it. Hadn't big business solved most of America's social problems? Hadn't regulatory reform damped the workers' anger? Postwar patriotic fervor and the Red scare of the twenties had worked. The radicals were in disarray and were in retreat. 'The business of America,' Calvin Coolidge had said ... 'is business.' 'We in America today,' his successor Herbert Hoover told the American people as he accepted the Republican nomination for president in 1928, 'are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land. We shall soon... be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation.' Into the White House he went. Eleven months later, on Black Monday, October 24, 1929, the Earth opened and the economy fell into it. America had never suffered anything like the Great Depression. There had been recessions and slumps before, some severe, as in 1883. But American business, blindly believing in perpetual expansion, overinvested so heavily in capital equipment and development projects that it did not see the signs of market saturation." -- Robert Hughes. American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America, Alfred A. Knopf, N.Y., 1997, page 403.

    Using the Organizer, students should then view the images in Group B from the AMERICAN VISIONS site. Ask students how these images as a whole contrast with those from Group A.

  • Ask the students to choose one image from Group A and one image from Group B and compose a first draft of an essay for homework that compares and contrasts the images. Notes to the student are included in the Organizer.

  • Have students search the Web for information relating to the Depression, northern migration, and urbanization. Here are some sites to get you started:

    The Great Depression (
    This site contains a synopsis and a good bibliography on the Depression.

    American Memory Collection Search (
    By searching this collection with terms such as "the Great Depression" or "northern migration," students will find primary source materials, such as autobiographical essays, photos, movies, and sounds.

  • Day Three: Working from their first draft, students will finalize their essay, drawing from class discussions, Web research, and inferences made from the images.


    Working in Groups
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your classroom into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc. from the library for the group doing paper research. Lead the group working at the computer through an Internet search or allow the students in the class to take turns. (It may be efficient to have a set of bookmarks ready for the students before they start working on the computer.) When the groups have finished working have them switch places.

    Look for Web Resources Together as a Class
    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities you can do an Internet search together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen. Go to the AMERICAN VISIONS Web sight and review the information presented there. Bookmark the pages that you and your students think are helpful. Go to a search engine page, allow your students to suggest the search criteria, and do an Internet search. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time and make suggestions. This way, you can be sure that students have a starting point.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students