When the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929 (otherwise known as Black Tuesday), it marked the beginning of the longest and most severe worldwide depression of the modern age. After the crash, both the rich and the poor were affected thanks to a massive drop in tax revenue, personal income, profits, prices, and more. With unemployment dipping to 33%, many families struggled to survive with no way to support themselves. It was undeniably a dark time to live through. These pictures show its devastating effect on the world.
Just One Job
In this photo, a man walks the streets with a sign detailing his qualifications, accomplishments, and the struggles he and his family were experiencing at the time. It was not uncommon for people to wear these "mobile resumes" during that period, as it was their way of protesting what had happened, what was being done about it, and showing how it was affecting the general population.
Great Depression Fact: After the collapse of the stock market, around 300,000 companies were forced out of business.
Al Capone Helped The Less Fortunate
Although the notorious gangster Al Capone wasn't exactly on as hard of times as the rest of the public, he did take it upon himself to help those less fortunate. He established the soup kitchen known as Big Al's Kitchen for the Needy. The establishment provided three meals a day consisting of soup with meat, bread, coffee, and doughnuts, feeding around 3,500 people a day.
Great Depression Fact: President Roosevelt pushed 15 new laws within his "First Hundred Days" of office.
Amazingly, along with the crash of the stock market and the incredibly high unemployment rates, another terrible thing to happen was that all of the banks failed. Here, a crowd of depositors outside of the American Union Bank in New York are in a commotion after failing to have withdrawn their savings before the bank collapsed.
Great Depression Fact: After the collapse, more than $1 billion in bank deposits were lost due to bank closings.
Droughts Only Made Things Worse
While the repercussions of the depression were bad enough, other problems such as droughts made the suffering of the population that much worse. Due to a major drought in the Midwest, countless families were forced to flee their homes in what was then known as the Dust Bowl region. Here, a family makes their way out of town towards an unknown future.
Great Depression Fact: Millions of people were forced out of the Dust Bowl region with about 200,000 moving to California.
Coined by Charles Michelson, the chief of the Democratic National Committee, "Hoovervilles" were shanty towns that were built during the Great Depression by the homeless, specifically in the US. They were named after Herbert Hoover, who was the president at the time, and who was widely blamed for the collapse.
Great Depression Fact: Hundreds of thousands of families could no longer pay their mortgages and were therefore evicted, forcing them to live in places like Hoovervilles.
The US Wasn't The Only Country Affected
Here, four "tramps" in London are covering themselves in newspapers in an attempt to stay warm while sleeping on a bench. People in the United States tend to forget that other countries besides the US were also severely affected by the crash of the stock market. This was mostly due to the recent global adherence to the gold standard which heavily affected many European countries.
Great Depression Fact: The worst years of the Great Depression were between 1932 and 1933.
Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures
Because people had become so desperate not long after the initial crash, increasing crime rates for acts such as stealing and violence had become the norm. Those who had nothing were willing to take from those that did in order to ensure either their (or their family's) survival.
Great Depression Fact: For many who had never committed a crime, a life of crime became their reality as they had to find some way to make money with no jobs available.
Many Men Left Their Families
With too many mouths to feed many men ended up abandoning their families, leaving their wives with the terrible responsibility to look after both themselves and their children. In this photo, a group of women is pictured at the Emergency Relief Administration headquarters in Boston demanding that those without husbands have priority over jobs compared to married women who have a husband to help them.
Great Depression Fact: Approximately 1.5 million men abandoned their families, leaving their wives and children with no income or support.
The Severity Of The Dust Bowl
Many people fled the Dust Bowl in the Midwest initially because of the drought, but eventually, the dust storms became so violent that part of the United States was essentially uninhabitable. Many were forced to abandon their farms and homes knowing they would likely never see them again. This is a picture of a farm after a dust storm rolled through, covering all of the machinery and almost the whole barn.
Great Depression Fact: Many people refused to leave their cars behind and would have them pulled by mules. These were known as Hoover Wagons.
Many People Sold Apples For A Living
Although they weren't aware at the time, apple sellers would grow to become a symbolic image of the Great Depression. However, selling apples wasn't an immediate response to the struggles of the time, but were an attempt to get once-working men back on their feet. After it was discovered that there was a $10,000 surplus of apples, it was proposed that the International Apple Shippers' Association sold their apples to unemployed men for cheap to give them some kind of way to make money.
Great Depression Fact: In New York, it was estimated there were over 6,000 apple vendors.
Even though the country was literally falling apart, that didn't stop some companies from trying to make it appear that everything was alright. This billboard, sponsored by the National Associations of Manufacturers, was found on Highway 99 during the Depression. Problem was, few people could afford to drive to have ever seen it.
Great Depression Fact: In 1929, unemployment was around 3%. Yet, by 1933, it rose to a shocking 25% with one out of every four people being unemployed.
Even Some Children Had To Fend For Themselves
Many adults had a hard time surviving taking care of themselves, let alone their families. This meant that some children didn't have anyone to look after them. They had to look out for themselves, usually with a few older children being the only people that some young kids had to look up to. Here, a group of gypsy children has their picture taken outside of their caravans in Epsom Downs.
Great Depression Facts: It's estimated that more than half of the children in the US did not have proper food, clothing, and housing.
The New Deal
Instituted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the New Deal was a series of plans and projects to help bring the US out of the Great Depression. Coming into office in 1933 his primary goal was to create jobs for US citizens which he did over his eight years in office with projects such as the CCC, WPA, and SEC. He also rebuilt the relationship with the federal government and the citizens.
Great Depression Fact: The New Deal created around 100 new government offices and 40 new agencies.
The Migrant Mother
Arguably one of the most iconic photos of the Great Depression is Migrant Mother by Dorthea Lange. At the time, Lange was working for the US government's Farm Security Administration (FSA) program to raise awareness for impoverished farmers. It was then that she came upon Florence Owens Thompson and her children living in a camp with other farmers struggling after their pea crops had failed. She was drawn to her and took this photo which became incredibly famous.
Great Depression Fact: Thompson proclaimed in the '70s that Lange got her story mixed up with someone else or changed it to make it a better story.
Life Goes On
While people were struggling to survive, life went on in the cities and the slums that people now called home. Although they may have been cold and hungry, kids kept being kids and playing like they were expected to. Here is a picture of two boys living in a slum. They had made a homemade golf course out of the trash.
Great Depression Fact: On Black Tuesday, $14 billion was lost, by the end of the week it was up to $30 billion.
In 1933, it is assumed that the banks lost $140 billion, rendering cash essentially useless. Either way, people were concerned more about food than actually attempting to find themselves mentally stable once again. Pictured is council man, Mr. Barlow, and Treasury Secretary, Mr. Jil Martin, burning 100,000 dollars of after Scrips Bank closure.
Great Depression Fact: The films King Kong, The Wizard of Oz, and Gone with the Wind were all released during the Great Depression.
Protests Were Not Uncommon
With the majority of the country suffering, it's no surprise that protests were held to demonstrate the plight of those that were poor and starving. The picture above shows people carrying American flags on the outskirts of Columbus before their march on the state capitol. They had intentions to show up and show that they were in search of food and work.
Great Depression Fact: The biggest hit song of 1932 was "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" by Bing Crosby.
The Civilian Conservation Corps
Enacted by President Roosevelt, the Civilian Conservation Group or CCC was a work program in the United States for unemployed and unmarried men. Although originally for boys 18 to 25 it was later expanded to ages 17 to 28. Between its operation between 1933 and 1942, it's estimated that over 3 million young men utilized the program and were provided food, shelter, clothing, and steady wages.
Great Depression Facts: The term "skid row" came about during the depression years.
Protests In Europe
Much like in the United States, Europe was hit hard by the Great Depression, which led to their own series of protests. Here is the Scottish group of the National Hunger March against the National Government. The gathering was made up of over 2,000 men and women marching to London in a protest against Means Testing.
Great Depression Facts: One particular Hooverville in St. Louis was so big and organized it had its own mayor, churches, and other social institutions.
Eleanor Roosevelt Did Her Part Too
While President Franklin Roosevelt established a number of programs to help put citizens back to work and bring the country out of the depression, his wife Eleanor did the same. She started what was known as She-She-She Camps for unemployed girls, almost identical for the CCC camps for boys which left out girls. Although it wasn't as successful as the CCC it did help.
Great Depression Fact: The stock market didn't return to its pre-depression levels until 1954.
Nice Car For Cheap
What's the purpose of having a nice car if you're only going to sell it for such a low amount? It wasn't Walter Thornton's intention to ask for a $100 in cash for this nice automobile. He was an investor who went bankrupt thanks to the stock market crash.
His luxury roadster was probably the last thing he could leverage during the time. The look on his face says it all and reveals he didn't want to give this up.
Sleeping Where You Could
Thanks to the crash, many New York Stock brokers and their clerks had to make their bed wherever they could. Here, some brokers and clerks worked until early Oct. 30, just checking transactions in a market.
This photo depicts them sleeping in a gym in business section of New York. Times were hard, clearly, but you having no sleep and no money only would make it harder. People had to get creative during these moments.
What To Do
After news of the crash came out, chaos ensued. What do you think would happen? Tons of peoples money was thrown down the drain. Instant worry came about and people didn't know what would happen with their funds.
Here is a group of speculators in front of the New York Stock Exchange concerned with their financial securities. This was Black Thursday as they stood around the statue of George Washington. What would you have done?
Unemployed Men Sitting
Here is a group of unemployed men sitting outside the public library in San Francisco, California. They are all victims of the Great Depression. The economy had recovered a bit after the stock market crash, but things went bad again.
In 1937, another recession occurred and this is a touching image of the result. No one could really catch a break and it wasn't their faults at all. They were just searching for some way to earn a buck.
Resorting To Coffee...
When a country is in crisis, anything can happen and people get creative with the resources they have available to them. Now, when you're fueling a train engine, you usually don't go for coffee.
However, that's exactly what's taking place here. The engine gets fed a mixture of coffee and tar over in Brazil as a result of the stock market crash. Planters could no longer put their coffee up for sale during the crisis.
Rush On The Banks
What's your first move after finding out that your invested money is no more? If you said panic, then you wouldn't be where these kind folks are at. Everyone here rushed to the banks to withdraw their savings.
Honestly, they were probably concerned with all of their money so this was a smart move by them. We've never seen the bank this crowded and hopefully will never have to. Let's just keep out fingers crossed!
Headline Says It All
Sometimes, it isn't the best to trust everything you read in the news. However, in the case of the market crash, this was nothing but the truth. "Wall St. Panic As Stocks Crash" is literally the last thing investors wish to read.
The word panic was probably selling it short too. People were frenzied, afraid, and unaware of what would happen next. This is the type of news that you would have in your nightmares.
Panic In The Night
You can imagine that every phone line was busy or ringing nonstop when the market crashed. The people needed to know what was going on and what steps to take next during the mayhem.
This is a picture from New York during Black Thursday at 1 AM. The whole room looks shook and pressed to give proper responses and information to anybody they were on the phone with. These conversations must have been full of tension.
Families took a huge hit after the market crash. The Great Depression followed and seeing families in situations like this was pretty much the norm. With so many kids they look to be responsible for, its really sad to witness this.
On the bottom of the woman's sign, it reads, "can anyone find us a home." Wow, we're not sure how many suffered for extended periods of time without shelter but when there are kids involved, it makes things more depressing.
Son Helping Out
As we've said, men and women with children only made this crash more devastating than it already was. Having to sell luxury cars for only $100, holding up signs asking for jobs, and everything else can be felt in the deepest parts of the soul.
This little boy poses the question, "why can't you give my dad a job?" Ouch, For anyone reading that, they had to have had an emotional response to it. If they didn't where's their soul?
An Aerial Shot
Have you ever seen this much pandemonium on one street before? Maybe for a protest or a festival, but to walk outside and see all these people panicking thanks to something that was completely out of your control is frightening.
Just know that if you ever happen to witness anything like this outside of your window, something drastic and detrimental is going on. This looks like something out of a zombie apocalypse movie of some sort.
An Inside Shot
Imagine you're at your workplace and every employ just got the word that you're being shutdown. Many of you have families, bills, debt, and many other things to worry about.
Former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said the 1929 crash is a "once-in-a-century type of event." While that is a great silver lining if you wish to call it that, we still can't forget about how badly families felt the damage back when this happened.
As you know by now, the effects of the stock market swept across the nation. It was serious business. Here is another photo that demonstrated the urgency of folks that wanted to get to whatever money they had left.
This bank is in Millbury, Massachusetts. High trading created a run on banks that went all over the country. The people needed their funds safe and away from the banks. However long the line took, people waited.
Resting comfortably wasn't something many could look forward too after the crash. As sad as it is to admit, its just the truth and this photo depicts that perfectly. Parents did whatever they could for their children.
Here, a mother and her kids try and rest along with 40 men, women, and children camp at a City Hall in St. Louis. What made things worse that the St. Louis alderman took no action to increase relief...
A Look Of Despair
A mother looks on as her child gazes in the camera outside of a tent. She looks woefully pessimistic while the kid is probably too young to understand what is exactly going on.
That's good for the child and the mother could have held on to hope knowing that was probably the case as well. However, sleeping in tents every night for extended periods of time can't be too good for the moral or spirits of a person.
Naturally, when something goes bad with your money, you want answers. This is an image of brokerage house customers waiting outside the New York Stock Exchange after the crash. What was to become of their money?
As you see in the middle, one individual reads the paper that probably outlines what exactly happened. There was no amount of good news that could've been in the paper that day to turn things around for these folks.
Bring In The Attorneys
As you can imagine, the courts must have been busy during this period. There were many that needed explanations as to what transpired. Here, we see a New York financier and banker, John Pierpont Morgan Jr.
He's receiving whispered advice from his attorney, John W. Davis during a day of questioning by the Senate Banking and Currency Committee. They were concerned about various banking officials' roles in the market crash. Was there dirty play going on?
To lay an egg usually means to do something poorly. Variety certainly understated what really took place. That headline should have read, "Wall St. Causes The Great Depression." "Wall St. Ruins Lives" would have been a good one as well.
Laying an egg was probably the biggest understatement by a publication. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt, however. Perhaps they didn't know how severe the repercussions were due to this stock market crash.
Panic In Tel-Aviv
Have we already mentioned that the crash also effected other countries as well? Americans weren't the only people to feel the wrath of the stock market crash as it traveled all the way to Tel-Aviv.
This picture is from a Bourse after the crash. The two men in the front look distraught and like they're out of ideas as the guy on the right has a hand placed on his forehead. Things were really bad.
Banks were the most busy of locations after the market crash, and that's understandable. This is a picture of depositors crowding outside of bank in Passaic, New Jersey. We're surprised there weren't more folks out there.
When money is on the line, people will go beyond and above what you think to get it under control. Small riots is just one example of one of those things. Far worse actions could have taken place outside of this bank.