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. The Beginning 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 obviously getting more money at work, 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. Since people were getting paid way more and spending it recklessly, this was where an 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. Life 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 a small area 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 a huge increase in physical health problems (Granados, Roux). However, mental health issues skyrocketed and so did many petty crimes. “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. But some people couldn’t handle living like this a 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 such a downward spiral that they were in a place that they felt that life would be better if it was just over. Government Reaction 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 was giving them the help or attention they needed to get through this.