The Year Was 1929

The year was 1929 and is probably best remembered for the October 29 “Black Tuesday” stock market crash that signaled the start of the Depression Era.

President Herbert Hoover continued to express optimism with statements like, “Any lack of confidence in the economic future or the basic strength of business in the United States is foolish,” but fortunes had been lost, unemployment rose, and the “Great Depression” would last into World War II.

In Chicago, one of the most notorious crimes of the era takes place on February 14, when seven gangsters who were members of Bugs Moran’s gang were gunned down in a warehouse on Clark Street in Chicago, in what is now known as the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. No charges were ever filed on the infamous murders, but it is widely believed that Al Capone and his gang were behind the crime.

The year 1929 had its share of natural disasters too. Off the coast of Newfoundland, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck and set off a tsunami that killed 28 people, devastated coastal communities on the Burin Peninsula, and ruptured 12 transatlantic telegraph cables.

In the U.S. an F5 tornado devastated parts of Arkansas, the lower Mississippi Valley suffered severe flooding and an ice storm hit New England. 

In February, Dartmoor in Great Britain had one of the worst snowstorms in history. The storm dumped over six feet of snow on the area and the winter was one of the most severe on record in Britain.  Europe also suffered cold temperatures, with record lows set in Germany and Austria in that month.

Fire took its toll in 1929 when a fire at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio killed 123. The fire began when x-ray film got too close to a lightbulb and ignited. The poisonous fumes given off by the burning films killed most of the victims. More information and photos are available on the Cleveland Public Library website.

In entertainment, the first Academy Awards ceremony took place. The cost of admission was $10 and the awards ceremony lasted five minutes, with fifteen statuettes being handed out. “Wings,” starring Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Richard Arlen, and Gary Cooper, won best picture.

That same year the Marx Brothers made their film debut with Cocoanuts.  Ernest Hemingway wrote, A Farewell to Arms,  and ironically one of the most popular songs was Happy Days are Here Again, which was released just prior to the stock market crash.

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12 thoughts on “The Year Was 1929

  1. The title year and the article year do not match! The title is: The Year Was 1876. The article year starts out: “The year was 1929…”

  2. While going thru my grandparents’ pictures and letters I found this card.
    ANY PLACE AND ANYWHERE
    Hoover is my Shepherd. I shall surely want. He maketh me to lay down hungry. He leadeth me beside the still factories. He increaseth my debts for his party’s sake. He restoreth my doubt in human kind. Yea:-though I walk through an idle city, I see in him a great leader to destruction, following in the footsteps of “Silent Cal.” His noble experiment is still chasing prosperity into a hidden corner. And low wages and unemployment shall follow me all the days of my life.

    I don’t know who wrote this or why it was kept. It could have been my maternal great grandfather’s who stood on soapboxes and encouraged The Townsend Plan. Thought this would be of some interest after reading the article about 1929.

  3. 1929 marked the final year of the fabled ‘Roaring 20′s’, and indeed, it could well be said laid to rest on October 29th.

  4. Your Article entitled “The Year Was 1876″ in this week’s newsletter Was NOT about 1876 . . . . HOWEVER . . . . it covered the year 1929 Quite Efficiently. It was somewhat depressing to note that (in this small poll of four comments) ONLY 50% NOTICED THIS ERROR! This sort of “Not Paying Attention” Should PROVE Dangerously Enept in The November Elections . . . . PLUS! No wonder Tens Of Thousands Auto DRIVERS Actually RUN RED LIGHTS on a daily basis.

  5. Al Capone was not all bad. He had soup lines set up and running before the government did during the Great Depression and he gave to charities as well. Likewise,Adolf Hitler had some good accomplishments…namely the Volkswagen automobile and the forerunner of our Interstate Highway System,the Autobahn. Eisenhower saw the Autobahn and liked it,maybe too well,as it has led to the near demise of the railroads in America. I purchased a brand new 1968 VW Bug for $25 down and $53 a month for 2 years. The local gas station was offering free glassware with a fill-up of $3 or more,but the VW would not hold $3 worth back then so I never qualified for their offer.

  6. In response to Francis Harmon’s comment. 1) Just because people didn’t comment doesn’t mean they didn’t notice. Plus after a comment’s been made, I don’t see the point in continuing to repeat the fact.
    2) Not everyone comes to the blog via the newsletter. I have it “fed” to MY Yahoo page. When I read the blog, the title simply said The Year was 1829, so there was nothing for me to notice.
    That messes with the accuracy of your poll.

  7. Thank you Katherine for writing my response. I would like to add, however, that perhaps Francis Harmon ought to apologize to Kim and E.R. His comment was, afterall, an insult to their intelligence. And that’s just another thing society seems to be having difficulty doing nowadays–apologizing along with saying please and thank you.

  8. Thank you Judy, for your kind comment. I DID notice right off the bat that the article title did not correspond to the article but what I had to say seemed more important to me than trying to point out other people’s mistakes. That seems to be a favorite pasttime now that it is election time. I suppose that makes people feel”more intelligent” than the average guy.
    Don’t forget, the average guy made this country and not everyone who is in the public eye has to be a braggart. Just be careful who you vote for. Research!

  9. I had another thought. I agree with Mr. Harmon that it is a shame more comments weren’t made about the actual content of the article. I thought someone might have a comment about the text of the card that I found in my grandparents effects. Does anyone know what it was about?

  10. I have noticed several comments about the statement Mr. Harmon made and very few about the content of “The Year Was….”. My first impression was that I was unclear what year it should have been but when I read the articles, it was clear that the heading was wrong. I am sorry that Mr. Harmon chose to comment on the error in dates, which so many, many people did notice but chose not to make a negative comment about, and not add some enlightening comment for other readers to enjoy. I also enjoyed the comments by Kim Ransom. It really expresses how some of the people felt during that period. What a great find!

  11. I very good article about the depression era. I would not have read the article if it had not said ” The Year Was 1876 “. I have heard many tales about happenings during the depression. My father was in the W P A. He cut trees in Maine. I have no idea why they cut trees but I guess people were using them for fuel and more importantly building. As we were coming out of the depression the second World War began and many of the W P A workers shifted into the war. It’s good for your mind to wander back into those depressing times. It makes you appreciate what we had in the late forties. Those were really the Good Old Days. Thanks . . .Les

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