Behind the camera: © Bettmann/CORBIS
Where: New York City
Photo Summary: Bankrupt investor Walter Thornton tries to sell his luxury roadster for $100 cash on the streets of New York City following the 1929 stock market crash
Picture Taken: October 30, 1929
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 was the biggest market crash in American history. Billions of dollars were lost in a day that would become known as Black Tuesday. The crash lead to almost two decades of worldwide depressed economic activity, known today as the Great Depression. America and the world wouldn’t emerge from the effects of the crash until World War II.
One of the most famous photos of this day is of investor Walter Thornton trying to sell his Chrysler Imperial “75” Roadster for $100. According to the postcard shown on this page, a 1928 Chrysler Imperial “75” Roadster could be purchased for $1555 ($21,400 in 2014). The Thornton picture shows the desperation of men who had lost everything on the stock market. Walter Thornton was so desperate for cash that he had no problem selling his year old car for $100 (US$ 1,400 in 2014) even though he was taking a huge loss.
The real despair felt around this time led to a number of myths surrounding Black Tuesday like the myth of finical investors jumping from the windows like lemmings upon learning that they were worthless but as Cecil Adams from the Straight Dope points out:
economist John Kenneth Galbraith … in his book The Great Crash, 1929, first published in 1955. Studying U.S. death statistics, Galbraith found that while the U.S. suicide rate increased steadily between 1925 and 1932, during October and November of 1929 [The time frame of the crash] the number of suicides was disappointingly low.
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