The 1930s were a time when the depression caused by the Wall Street crash in late 1929 caused the world to undergo an essential change in lifestyle. It was the longest and most severe economic downturn in modern history. It was marked by steep declines in industrial production and prices, mass unemployment, banking panics, and sharp increases in rates of poverty and homelessness.
The 1930’s also provided a strange phenomenon where bank robbers and murderers were thought of as celebrities. Were depression and crime the only symbols of the 1930s? Let’s go through these interesting facts about the 1930s and find out…
USA, The Smoot-Hawley Tariff bill was passed, raising duties on imports. The very first
FIFA World Cup was held in Uruguay. Uruguay defeated Argentina to win the title. Mahatma Gandhi and his followers marched 200 miles to the
salt beds of Jalalpur. The popular cartoon character “Betty Boop” made her debut in “Dizzy Dishes.”
For entertainment, children and families often listened to the
radio during the Great Depression. Nearly 40% of families owned a radio. Banking panics in the early 1930s caused many banks to fail, decreasing the pool of
money available for loans. After the initial crash, there was a wave of suicides in
New York’s financial district.
The US suffered the worst ever drought in its history, leading to the Dust Bowl years.
Francis Scott Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner” was officially named the United States’ national anthem.
In 1931 the
Empire State Building was completed. The Second Spanish Republic was created.
The Great Depression influenced economies worldwide. More than 24.5% of the population were unemployed in the United States. Over 20% of the workforce were unemployed in the
United Kingdom. Canadian unemployment reached 27%. The German unemployment rate reached nearly 30%.
The Empire State Building, Manhattan, New York
Amelia Earhart became the first female aviator to successfully fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Notorious gangster Al Capone was convicted of Income
Tax Evasion. Al Capone in one of his sporadic attempts at public relations opened a soup kitchen during the Great Depression. For millions, soup kitchens provided the only food they would see all day.
On March 4th 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the 32nd President of the United States.
winds stripped the topsoil from the drought-affected farms in the Midwest. The first successful solo around-the-world flight was completed by Wiley Post.
Unemployment in the United States reached its highest level in the
winter of 1932 / 1933 with nearly 1 in 3 people out of work. The fabled “Loch Ness Monster” was spotted in
Scotland for the first time.
Adolf Hitler announced the state-sponsored “People’s
Car” – “Volkswagen”. The 21
st Amendment was passed repealing the 18 th Amendment ending the prohibition of alcohol. The machine gun was demonstrated by a Japanese scientist.
Disney introduced the character of “Donald Duck” in the animated short “The Little Wise Hen.”
Due to poverty around the world, political extremism including Fascism, Nazism, and extreme Communism gained followers.
John Herbert Dillinger (Public Enemy Number 1) bank robber died after a shoot-out with the
FBI. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow died after a shoot-out with the FBI.
Slum Clearance began in
New York and other major US cities.
The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, also known as “The Rock”, opened near
San Francisco and was used to hold some of the more dangerous and well-known U.S. criminals. The Boulder (Hoover) Dam was completed.
Penguin produced their first paperback books, bringing affordable modern literature to the masses. Emergency Relief Appropriation Act created the WPA or Works Progress Administration to provide millions of jobs.
The United States Social Security Act was signed into
law. Legendary player Babe Ruth retired from the sport of baseball after hitting his 714
th home-run. President Roosevelt’s Revenue Act (Wealth Tax Act) began.
In December 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson
Margaret Mitchell’s epic Civil War novel “Gone With the
Wind” was published. Jesse Owens won 4
Gold medals at the Berlin Olympics. The first public television broadcasts began in
London. The Spanish Civil War began during
July 1936 and did not end until 1939.
Prince Albert, the Duke of York, became King George VI of
England in 1936.. Amelia Mary Earhart disappeared over the
Pacific Ocean during a circumnavigation flight attempt. The
United Kingdom’s “999” Emergency Telephone Service began operations. The German airship Hindenburg burst into flames while attempting to moor at Lakehurst,
The Memorial Day Massacre took place in
Japan invaded China and seized Peking, Tientsin, Nanjing, Shanghai, and Hangchow. Seabiscuit beat War Admiral in the “Race of the Century.”
Orson Welles’ radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds was broadcast.
Aviator Howard Hughes flew around the world in 3 days and 19 hours, setting a new record.
The Fair Labor Standards Act ( Wages and Hours Bill ) passed.
Germany began its persecution of Jews. The very first “
Superman” comic was issued by Action Comics. On the 1st
September 1939, Germany attacked Poland starting World War II.
Lou Gehrig retired from Major League Baseball after being diagnosed with ALS.
Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard send a letter to President Roosevelt urging the United States to invest time and money into the secret development of nuclear weapons before Germany developed the technology first. Dictator Francisco Franco conquered
Madrid ending the Spanish Civil War.
Russia invaded Finland.
The World’s Fair opened in New York.
The beloved film starring Judy Garland “The Wizard of
Oz” premiered. The Great Depression was technically over by 1933, meaning that economies had started to recover, however most did not experience full recovery until the late 1930s or early 1940s.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about the 1930s that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!