The Wall Street Crash of 1929 dramatically closed the curtain on the prosperity of the twenties and precipitated the greatest economic decline in US history. In 1929 only 3% of Americans were without a job, by 1933, the unemployment rate had risen to 25%.
Natural calamities added to the nation's miseries. Drought in America's heartland
turned the once rich soil to dust. Winds whipped the loose soil into gigantic
dust storms that ravaged the country from South Dakota to Texas. Thousands were
forced to abandon their farms, clogging the highways as they headed West in the
hopes of finding a better life.
The economic hardships spawned a wave of lawlessness in which desperadoes such as Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly and John Dillinger became folk heroes.
It was not until 1940 with the outbreak of war in Europe and the simultaneous
military buildup in America that the nation's economic fortunes improved and
the Great Depression slid into history.