The Terrors of Depression Boom to Bust

Urban and rural America had different perspectives of the economy during the 1920s. The South was in debt after buying new farming machines to keep up with the demand of farming products. While farms were foreclosed, Northern economy boomed. Consumer goods were being produced faster than ever, and workers overall income rose 37%.

Buying on credit

During the 1920s people spent outrageous amounts of money for consumer goods and went into severe debt.

People ignored the signs of trouble and continuously spent money they didn't have on consumer goods despite financial risks. The 1930s was where the problems that had previously been ignored emerged. There became a cycle that made the economy continue to drop. People were unable to buy goods, and the rate of consumer products dropped significantly. Businesses were then forced to either lay off workers or close. People were then earning less money and the cycle continued.

Foreclosure on the farms

A farm up for auction after it has been foreclosed.

One of the few things that remained constant between the 1920s and 1930s is that farmers struggled. Before the Depression, many farmers lost their farms to foreclosure and once the Depression hit, they were faced with more financial conflicts.

Dust Storms

A ferocious dust storm about to wreck havoc on farms.

In the Midwest, farmers did not know how to properly farm the land. Droughts caused farmers to continuously destroy the land as well as the grasses that held the soil together. This caused dry soil to be be able to float around in the wind. These became devastating storms that caused death to both animals and people. Many who were fearful of death migrated to California to escape.

Moving towards California

A family on the road to California.

Bankers and stockbrokers who had become millionaires during the 1920s lost all their savings at the crash. Many went into bankruptcy because they were unable to reclaim their clients debts. Billions were lost because of the broken economy. The Depression worsened the state of the economy from urban to rural and affected the speed of goods being produced. However President Roosevelt was able to help the crippled society and World War ll was able to bring America fully out of the Depression.

The stock market crash

The crash of the stock market caused the loss of millions of dollars.

Before the Depression, life was going well for urban Americans. They were living the life and wildly buying on credit while going into severe debt. They invested in stock believing the stock market would continue to grow indefinitely. When the stock markets crashed, surprised Americans lost millions.

Nowhere to go home to

A homeless person sleeping on a bench.

Unemployment increased to 25% and many were evicted from their houses. Many who lost their homes had nowhere to go and lived on the streets.


A broken down Hooverville with shanty houses made of cardboard and scraps.

Several new homeless moved to Hoovervilles with unsanitary houses made of cardboard, newspapers, and any scraps they could find.

Women who had formerly flaunted their stuff were reduced to living at home and relying on husbands for income. They learned to “cut corners” in order to hide their misfortunes. The middle class that had emerged, learned to save money instead of extravagantly spending. Farmers were forced out of their homes because of foreclosure and dust storms and many moved towards California. Dust storms killed both crops, animals, and people frightening children and parents to run. Some traveled across railroads to search for work and easy transportation.

Riding the Rails

Lots of people riding the rails to escape the dust storms.

In the 1920s people had more leisure time to spend because of new modern conveniences. Teens spent hours in clubs and speakeasies drinking alcohol and partying the night away. Although many people could not afford to waste away in a bar, they still enjoyed movies to escape the trauma of the Depression. Radio also became a popular good during the time, because it was a virtually free way to listen to music and stay updated on relevant world topics.

Radio Time

A family huddles around a radio to escape from the struggles of the Great Depression.

Women during the 1920s

Women lived a care-free life without needing to care about their families during the 1920s.

Women were no longer given the freedom of being flappers and clubbing and worked hard to balance their struggling families.

Women during the 1930s

Women juggled family and house keeping.

African Americans were still able to make the beautiful music of jazz despite the end of the thriving Harlem Renaissance.

The Age of Jazz

Jazz was an escape for African Americans.

High Unemployment Rates

With a suffering economy, many people lost their jobs.

Herbert Hoover

The president when the Great Depression initially started.

Government was unable to help Americans during the 1920s because of its a laissez-faire policy. Hoover provided little relief for the starving country. He donated to private charities instead and entrusted them to help the people. He believed in a trickle-down economy, but most of the money did not reach where it was most needed.

Bread Lines

Many people without food relied on charity for help.

Hoovers efforts were too little and too late. By the time he left office, there was a 25% rate of unemployment, nine thousand banks were closed, and 2.5 billion dollars were lost.

Franklin Roosevelt

The president after Hoover who passed a series of laws that saved America from its downward descent.

The next President worked to help the people by using executive power. The Democratic President, Franklin Roosevelt proposed the “New Deal”, a series of laws that would bring relief to Americans. He removed the governments laissez-faire policy and started with a four day bank holiday. He put two billion into the banking system and assured the people with fireside chats. He began rapidly producing new laws such as the Old Age Insurance and Social Security. Although his efforts almost brought the nation out of Depression, he was criticized because the nation was going into severe debt. However he restored faith in government and changed the expectations of it. Farmers, business owners and industrialists in the 1920s had very little regulation because of the laissez-faire policy. When Roosevelt took office he produced several laws to help the people which included the Agricultural Administration Act and the National Labor Relations Act. Sadly, both presidents were unable to fully relieve the nation of Depression and World War ll was the only time of its eradication.

Labor Unions

Labor Unions were able to protest and negotiate in peace because of the New Deal.

The 1920s was a time of rejoice and many felt the struggles of war disappear. The 1930s was similar to a splash of cold water in the morning. The realization of the hidden troubles shocked Americans and the Great Depression was a chaotic epidemic that changed American life forever.

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