- When: 1930-1941
- Causes: Weak banking system, stock market crash, over production and spending
- Where: Started In USA, spread worldwide
- President: Herbert Hoover
- Annual Income: Average $1,368
- Stock Market Crash: October 29, 1929
- Unemployment: 25% (11 million)
- Other Names: Dirty Thirties
- Definition: Economic crisis with low business activity
- Effects: Business closures, family abandonment, relocation
- Causes: The Great Depression had Many Causes
- Celebrities: Al Capone Opened a Soup Kitchen
- Mortality: Suicide Rates Rose Drastically
- Race: Minorities Suffered the Most During the Depression
- Comparison: The Stock Market Crash Would Look Very Different Today
- Government: There Were Two Presidents During the Great Depression
- Culture: The Great Depression Changed the Fashion World
- Housing: People Lived in Makeshift Towns
- Culture: The Great Depression Had an Impact on Pop Culture
- Family: Family Life Was Greatly Affected
- The Board Game Monopoly Became Popular
- New York Was Filled with Apple Sellers
- Crime Rose During the Great Depression
- World War II Is Thought to Be the End of the Great Depression
The Great Depression had Many Causes
The Great Depression facts show that there was no one single cause of the Great Depression, but historians have put together a list of contributing factors. The 1920s made many people a lot of money, but the prosperity was not shared throughout the economy. Banking systems were weak, and, with the stock market crash, there were many bank runs which threw off the economical balance.
Al Capone Opened a Soup Kitchen
Al Capone, a famous Chicago gangster, was known for his violent temper and for taking revenge on his rivals. He was compassionate though during the Great Depression, and was the first to open a soup kitchen. Soup kitchens became popular and, for many struggling people, provided their only food source for the day. Capone also demanded that store owners give clothes and food to people and send him the bill.
Suicide Rates Rose Drastically
Many business owners who lost everything during the Great Depression felt that their only option was suicide. There are rumors that clerks in hotels in New York’s financial district would actually ask patrons if they were reserving a room for sleeping or jumping.
One sheep farmer took matters into his own hands and killed all 3,000 of his sheep. He felt this was a better option than watching them starve to death, as he no longer had the means to provide for them.
Minorities Suffered the Most During the Depression
African Americans were usually the first to be laid off in a company, according to Great Depression facts. They also found it harder to secure new work. Mexican immigrants were often intimidated to return back to Mexico as Americans believed that jobs were being stolen from them by immigrants.
Women were also discriminated against. They were often laid off before men and were seen as a threat in the shrinking workforce.
The Stock Market Crash Would Look Very Different Today
On October 29 1929, which has become known as Black Tuesday, the stock market lost 14 billion dollars. When combined with the losses of the entire week, the total reached 30 billion dollars. If the same loss happened today, the amount with inflation would be over 377 billion dollars.
However, many historians believe that since the average family today has two incomes, the individual impact on families would be much less.
There Were Two Presidents During the Great Depression
Herbert Hoover was President when the Great Depression started. He stated in March 1930 that the country had “passed the worst”, but was ultimately proved very wrong.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in March 1933 and promised what was known as a “New Deal for the American People.” He dedicated his first 100 days in office to attempting to create jobs as he started what became known as “Alphabet Agencies.” They include the TVA, NRA, CCC and WPA. It is still highly debated whether this act helped or worsened the Depression.
The Great Depression Changed the Fashion World
Great Depression facts show that with less money being spent on designer clothing, companies were forced to come up with more economical choices. For example, hemlines were extended to lessen the need for stockings, and lower heels were made that were more universal. The focus was placed on accessories, since they could change the feel of an outfit without the need to buy a whole new set of clothes.
People Lived in Makeshift Towns
When people lost their homes, they could seek shelter in what were known as Hoovervilles, or shanty towns. The term for soup kitchen food was Hoover Stew, and Hoover Blankets were newspapers that were used as blankets. Hoover Wagons were broken down cars that were pulled by mules. President Hoover is often blamed for the Great Depression, and these terms show how the public viewed the President during and after his time in office.
The Great Depression Had an Impact on Pop Culture
Great Depression facts show that chain letters first originated during the time period, most likely being crafted as part of a get rich quick scheme. The post office received so many chain letters that they actually had to hire help for the extra work.
Movies were also incredibly popular during the time as they were one of the only affordable forms of entertainment for families. Movies like King Kong, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind were some of the big blockbusters of the time.
Family Life Was Greatly Affected
Many couples put off marriage during the Great Depression as they didn’t have the means to fund a large celebration. The opposite was also true: some married couples put off officially divorcing to save on lawyer and court fees. Some men simply abandoned their families, with many leaving in the middle of the night. A poll was conducted in 1940 that revealed 1.5 million married men had left their wives and families.
The Board Game Monopoly Became Popular
The famous board game Monopoly was released in 1935. It quickly became popular, as it served as an outlet for people to live their financial dreams. Monopoly is still one of the world’s most popular board games today and is available in many different versions. Some of the newest games even include credit cards that are swiped instead of the traditional paper money.
New York Was Filled with Apple Sellers
Many men who found themselves jobless turned to selling apples on the street. At one point, close to 5,000 apple vendors filled the streets, selling apples for a nickel a piece. Before the Depression, apples were fifty cents each. Once the phase passed, many of the same vendors started offering street side shoe shining.
Crime Rose During the Great Depression
Without jobs, many people who had never been in trouble with the law were forced into illegal lifestyles. Stealing was common, and some of the most well-known crime stories come from the time of the Great Depression. Bonnie and Clyde thrived during the era, and the infamous kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s son was committed by a man named Bruno Hauptmann seeking money.
World War II Is Thought to Be the End of the Great Depression
The ending of the Depression is similar to the beginning. There is not one single event that ended it, but most historians point to the end of World War II. Others point to President Roosevelt’s New Deal, which created jobs and unemployment insurance. It is speculated that if President Roosevelt had implemented the New Deal sooner, leading to the end of the Depression, World War II might never have happened.
Great Depression Facts – Facts about the Great Depression Summary
Great Depression facts show how powerful this time in American history was. It affected families to the core, and countless businesses and farms were lost. Suicide and crime became the only options for some individuals who had lost everything. Fashion and pop culture were changed, and some of the fads introduced are still very much a part of lifestyles today.