The Great Depression. We have all heard about it. But can you imagine what it would have been like to have lived through it? It’s been 90 years since the official start of the Great Depression. Looking at photos from Black Tuesday (October 29th, 1929) the day the stock market collapsed gives a little insight to how it must have felt . The confusion and fear can be seen on people’s faces.
Starting October 24th, 1929, the U.S. stock market began to fluctuate. This was the beginning of the collapse.
By October 29th, the market had fully collapsed. It was so bad that it was dubbed, “Black Tuesday”.
Many people were caught off guard by this sudden collapse, as preceding years were good for the market.
At this point, people knew things were going to be bad. But they had no idea how bad.
Some people lost everything in the stock market that day.
This is the floor of the stock market on Black Tuesday. Total Chaos.
The collapse destroyed consumer confidence in the economy, which impacted consumer spending and further accelerated the downward spiral.
Although it took until fall 1930 for the first bank to fail, there was a run on banks with people trying to withdraw their savings.
This is a shanty town that sprung up in Central Park in New York City during the early years of the Depression.
Jobs were scarce during this time. Here are hundreds of men lined up to apply for just a single position.
At the same time, the Midwest was also devastated by sever drought and dust storms known collectively as “The Dust Bowl”. Here is a dust storm blowing in over the National Mall in Washington D.C. in 1935.
In the years following the stock market collapse, sights like this were increasingly common.
It would take until 1932 and the election of FDR for meaningful reforms to be implemented to combat the Depression.
This man’s sign is honest and heartbreaking.
City council man, Mr. Barlow, and Treasury Secretary, Mr. Jil Martin, burning 100,000 dollars of “scrip money” (after the banks’ closure), April 1933, United States, National archives. Washington.
The only home of a depression-routed family of nine from Iowa.
A woman who has been injured in an unemployment demonstration during the Depression in Bristol.
Perhaps the most iconic and symbolic image of the time period is this photo of Florence Owens Thompson, Migrant Mother.
Even after looking at these pictures I can’t even imagine the desperation and helplessness that these people felt during the Depression. Next time someone complains about how hard their life is maybe I will show them these pictures and let them know that it’s not so bad.