From the booming economy, high salaries, and luxury items
of the Roaring 20s, to the day we know to be called Black Tuesday, the day that
changed a whole nation forever. Many people may not think this is something
that could happen, considering the United States has been one of the wealthiest
countries for decades but, this situation is very much real and could possibly
happen again. Imagine living during the Roaring 20s and living a life filled
with wealth and fast cars, all for that to end and be living the exact
opposite. For many people, that’s what happened, one moment they were at the
top of the world, and the next thing they knew, they had lost everything. No
one was expecting a country who was thriving in money to have such a great
economic downfall but unfortunately, it happened. October 29th,
1929, was truly the day that America was changed forever.


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            Before the time we know as the Great Depression came an
amazing time in U.S. History known as the Roaring 20s. This was a time where
everyone was having the time of their lives, World War I had just ended, and
money was coming in like crazy. “Between 1921 and 1924 the nation’s gross
national product jumped from $69 billion to $93 billion whilst wages rose by
22% from roughly $36.4 billion to $51.5 billion” (Alchin). With this money,
people were getting paid more, so it was spent on lavish items such as new fur
coats, cars, and new household appliances. Everything in life was going well
for nearly everyone, people were being able to express themselves, especially
women, in a way that used to be frowned upon. Women used to only be able to
wear clothing that covered their whole bodies but with Roaring 20s came a whole
new fashion of short skirts and feather headbands. Jazz was being introduced
and spread around the nation like a wildfire and new iconic dances such as the
Charleston and the Shimmy were invented (Alchin). Unfortunately, all these good
things and recklessness with money came with major consequences.

people were getting paid way more and spending it recklessly, this was where the
economic downfall began to happen in 1929. October 29th, 1929, a day
people refer to as Black Tuesday, was the beginning of America’s financial
stability going down the drain. The reason it was called Black Tuesday was that
this day marked the first day of the depression, the whole country was gloomy
and dark. “Black Tuesday’s losses destroyed confidence in the economy.
That loss of confidence led to the Great Depression” (Amadeo). People
back then used to believe everything in the economy was strictly based on the
stock market so once it crashed, people began to become frantic and lose faith
that they could ever return to normal. Everyone was withdrawing their money
from the banks and because of this, the banks had no money and were forced to
close causing an even more intense economic shutdown (Amadeo). This day in
history marks a day that changed everything about the United States.

in the Depression

            Once Black Tuesday hit, many people were left homeless,
unemployed, and starving. People were forced to give up their homes and live in
small shacks that were packed like sardines with their families. These shacks
were made from scrap wood and metal, and were called Hoovervilles. The reason
they were called Hoovervilles, was because the president at the time, Herbert
Hoover, was blamed by Americans for causing this economic spiral (Arbuckle). Each
city in the United States had multiple Hoovervilles within, where they would
home people in the thousands. Obviously, Hoovervilles were a lot more prominent
in larger cities, and one city that had notable Hoovervilles was Seattle.
Seattle’s Hoovervilles were placed all around the city but the largest one was
near the ocean which was a very unsafe place because at any time it could flood
over into the shacks. “Some were lucky enough to contain solid walls built of
wood with separate bedrooms inside, while others barely had a wall and ceiling
built from flimsy boards” (Demirel). The homes with the flimsy boards could
easily be taken out by the ocean or any weather change at any time so living
there was very uncertain for people. Seattle was just one of the thousands of
Hoovervilles across the nation that had housed the millions of Americans who
were left homeless.

            With the millions of Americans who were left homeless and
unemployed came a lot more unfortunate issues. Hoovervilles were crammed with
thousands of people in small areas, so with that, there is a need for
bathrooms, food, and water. Unfortunately, food was scarce, water was dirty and
filled with germs, and there were no working bathrooms. While sanitation issues
were a huge issue in Hoovervilles, surprisingly, that didn’t lead to any huge
increase in physical health problems (Granados, Roux). However, mental health
issues skyrocketed and so did many petty crimes. Just before the 1930s, mobs
were gaining traction so during the Great Depression their illegal activities
were happening a lot more frequently. “Illegal gambling grew along with the
Depression as an attempt by some people to improve their financial status”
(Lawrence). People were doing whatever they could to provide for themselves and
provide for their families which is why many robberies were happening and other
illegal activities to get money and food. Unemployment rates were through the
roof, with over 25 percent of the population being unemployed, something that
would take over a decade for the United States to properly recover from
(Smiley). But some people couldn’t handle living like this and took a different
road out. “During the Great Depression of the late 1920s, suicide rates in the
United States reached an all-time high, topping 22 suicides per 100,000 persons”
(Carr, Phillips). The United States was going through an all-around meltdown,
the Great Depression was so much more than just an economic issue. It caused a
lot more problems for people than just unemployment and no money, it caused
people to go down a huge spiral that led them to feel like life would be better
if it was just over. This was one of the worst effects the depression had on people,
but it was also one of the most important because it brought more awareness to
taboo issues like mental illness and suicide.


            During the beginning of the depression, the president was
Herbert Hoover. Hoover was not liked by most people during the time because
they felt he wasn’t giving them the help or attention they needed to get
through this. In many ways, Hoover was responsible but to blame him for the
entire situation is not accurate. Hoover was helping fund many different
government corporations, but he wasn’t helping the citizens by giving them
money or food (Hoover’s Last Stand). Hoover refused to let citizens be on the
dole (government aid) because he believed it would only make the situation
worse and make the American people weak (Hoff). This caused most people to turn
on him, which was the reason for them naming things after him such as
Hoovervilles. He also made other bad moves, such as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff,
that caused the country to go farther down the drain. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff
raised prices on imported goods and ultimately caused the U.S. to lose even
more money (Reynolds). While those were all mistakes on Hoovers part, he also
made good moves such as laying the groundwork for The New Deal which would
eventually get passed on to Roosevelt.

            In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to be
president and many people give him credit for saving the Great Depression.
Roosevelt would go on to finish and succeed with The New Deal. The New Deal was
based on the R’s: relief, recovery, and reform. After the election, Roosevelt acted
almost immediately. People praised Roosevelt for going through with this new
plan because it seemed for the first time in a few years the government was
helping the people. Different agencies were established to help provide
temporary jobs for unemployed people to do, which employed over 4 million people
(The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica). In 1938, Roosevelt
was able to continue progressing The New Deal and kept providing for the citizens
of the United States. He continued fighting until the beginning of World War II,
where every place was open for jobs (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica). World
War II may have been a huge tragedy, but it also helped put an end to the unemployment
of people. Roosevelt truly did save the United States from going further down a


            This time in U.S. history was one of the most memorable
and important events, not because of the economic downfall but because of other
hurdles, everyone went through to get past this. This event forever changed the
United States, this time in history brought light to important issues such as
poverty, unemployment, and mental illness to light because before this time
people never thought much about those topics. America was able to pull itself out
of this economic depression but with that experience, there are forever scars
of the Great Depression. Before this, the United States had never experienced
such a great deal of economic issues but with this came a positive outcome; a
learning experience and it brought everyone closer together. People should
remember the Great Depression for more than just the economic meltdown, it
should also be remembered for all the hardships it caused the people and the
poor living conditions they had to live through. Even though nowadays many of
the issues that occurred during the Great Depression aren’t taboo anymore, it
is still important to recognize the struggle and find ways to help. The Great
Depression will always have a prominent place in history because it brought
everyone together, sometimes a bad situation is all it takes for there to be
togetherness. This event in history forever changed the world, never has there
been an economic event that affected the world so much.

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