Skip top navigation
A bread line at Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street, New York City, during the Great Depression
The longest and deepest downturn in the history of the United States and the modern industrial economy lasted more than a decade, beginning in 1929 and ending during World War II in 1941.

Men wearing sandwich boards reading "I voted for ham and eggs" and "I believed the banks" walk down a Los Angeles street, Oct. 24, 1938. 
Recession of 1937-38

America’s third-worst downturn of the 20th century

President Roosevelt chats with various politicians and administration officials as he signs the Banking Act of 1935.
Banking Act of 1935

This legislation restructured the Fed in both cosmetic and consequential ways

President Roosevelt signs the Gold Reserve Act
Gold Reserve Act

The 1934 law was the culmination of FDR’s controversial gold program

President Roosevelt signs the Glass-Steagall Act alongside the bill's co-sponsors, Senator Carter Glass and Representative Henry Steagall, and others.
Banking Act of 1933

Commonly called Glass-Steagall, the Act was widely debated before its enactment

Roy A. Young of the Boston Fed tells the Senate banking committee on January 19, 1933 that President Roosevelts gold plan would be helpful in reaching currency stabilization.
Roosevelt’s Gold Program

The controversial and consequential policies of FDR regarding gold and dollars

President Franklin Roosevelt signing the Emergency Banking Act
Emergency Banking Act

The 1933 law was aimed at restoring public confidence in the nation’s financial system

Crowds gather on Wall Street as banks reopened on March 13, 1933, after the Bank Holiday.
Bank Holiday of 1933

For an entire week in March 1933, all banking transactions were suspended

<p>Closed bank, northern Minnesota town</p>
Emergency Lending to Nonbank Borrowers

The Emergency Relief and Construction Act of 1932 expanded the Fed's ability to make certain loans under "unusual and exigent circumstances."

President Herbert Hoover and reconstruction leaders meet in Washington on February 6, 1932, to discuss the president's contemplated campaign against national hoarding
Banking Act of 1932

The Banking Act of 1932 reformed the Federal Reserve’s role providing credit during economic downturns.

<p>Clerks at the Reconstruction Finance Corporation computing interest on RFC loans, c. 1937</p>
Reconstruction Finance Corporation Act

During the years 1932 and 1933, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation effectively served as the discount lending arm of the Federal Reserve Board.

The crowd outside of the East New York Savings Bank during the run on that bank,&nbsp;November 24, 1933
Banking Panics of 1931-33

Earlier regional banking panics turned into a nationwide financial crisis in fall 1931

<p>John Poole, president of the Federal American National Bank in Washington, D.C., stands on a&nbsp;narrow ledge outside the building and declares to the crowd that the institution was sound, February 5, 1931.&nbsp;</p>
Banking Panics of 1930-31

The U.S. appeared to be poised for economic recovery when a series of bank panics began in fall 1930

Crowd in front of the New York Stock Exchange, October 1929
Crash of 1929

On October 28, 1929, the Dow declined nearly 13 percent