With the stock market crash of 1929, the Great Depression, at least nominally, began in New York City. The economic cataclysm would hit the nation's largest city particularly hard.
An unemployed man reads a newspaper in his shanty, 1933.FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
An unemployed man lies down on the city docks, circa 1935.Lewis Hine/National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons
Much of Central Park became Hooverville, a shanty town for the newly impoverished (named for President Herbert Hoover, in office during the market crash and widely blamed for it) -- pictured above, 1933.Bettmann/Getty Images
An old woman receives her Thanksgiving ration of food as other hungry people wait in line for the same, 1930.Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Yet amid all this poverty and desperation, certain aspects of New York thrived during the Great Depression. Throughout those ten or so years, it in many ways became the city we know today.
Pictured: The most famous image of the many high-profile New York construction projects of the Great Depression depicts laborers taking their lunch break on a steel beam atop the 70-story RCA building in Rockefeller Center, more than 800 feet above the street, on September 20, 1932.Bettmann/Getty Images
While the true roots of the Great Depression in America are varied and complex, the simplified version of the story begins on "Black Thursday," October 24, 1929. At this point, fears of dangerously rampant speculation saw stockholders dump their assets at record numbers, with the market losing a whopping 11 percent of its value on that one day.
Pictured: Traders work on Wall Street in October 1929.OFF/AFP/Getty Images
Just four days after "Black Thursday" came "Black Monday" and "Black Tuesday," when the market lost a further 13 and 12 percent, respectively, of its value. It was, all things considered, the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States.
Pictured: Upset crowds gather outside the New York Stock Exchange soon after the crash.Library of Congress
Soon after the crash, tens of millions across the country sank into poverty. And in New York, by 1932, "half of [the city's] manufacturing plants were closed, one in every three New Yorkers was unemployed, and roughly 1.6 million were on some form of relief," according to the New York Tenement Museum.
Unemployed men sit outside their makeshift homes in lower Manhattan, 1935.Berenice Abbott/New York Public Library
Within six months of the crash, more than 50 breadlines served meals to approximately 50,000 hungry people each day in the Lower East Side alone.
Pictured: A long line of unemployed and homeless men wait outside to get free dinner at a municipal lodging house, circa 1930.Fotosearch/Getty Images
A woman pulls her baggage as she pushes her baby in a pram, circa early 1930s.Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
Talman Street in northwest Brooklyn, 1936.Berenice Abbott/New York Public Library
Children play in the gutter in the southern section of the Bronx, 1936.Russell Lee/Library of Congress
The Manhattan Bridge as seen from Pike and Henry Streets, littered with trash, 1936.Berenice Abbott/New York Public Library
A child sits on the fire escape of the tenement in which she lives, circa mid-1930s.Consuelo Kanaga/Brooklyn Museum via Wikimedia Commons
A large group of people wait on a food line, 1932.National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons
A man stands beside his traveling tin shop in Brooklyn, 1936.Berenice Abbott/New York Public Library
A vacant lot in the southern section of the Bronx, 1936.Russell Lee/New York Public Library
Unemployed men smoke cigarettes amid their shantytown in lower Manhattan, 1935.Berenice Abbott/New York Public Library
However, while poverty plunged New York to new depths, the city's ambitious construction projects pushed it to new heights. During the Great Depression, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and more were all completed.
Pictured: A laborer works on the frame of the Empire State Building, 1930.Lewis Hine via Wikimedia Commons
A worker on the Empire State Building hangs by a steel beam, 1931.Lewis Hine/New York Public Library
A laborer during construction of the Empire State Building, 1931.Lewis Hine/New York Public Library
The soon-to-be-completed Empire State Building, 1931.Irving Underhill/Library of Congress
Construction on the Empire State Building, 1931.Lewis Hine/New York Public Library
The recently completed Chrysler Building, circa 1930.Detroit Publishing Co./Library of Congress
A workman rides a crane hook during construction of the Empire State Building, 1931.Lewis Hine/New York Public Library
The recently opened Radio City Music Hall, 1934.Wurts Brothers/New York Public Library
A laborer sits on the frame of an unfinished building overlooking Manhattan, 1935.Wikimedia Commons
The recently completed 30 Rockefeller Center, 1933.Samuel Herman Gottscho/Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons
Unemployed men sit at the docks, 1934.Lewis Hine/National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons
Men wait on a breadline, 1932.National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons
Clotheslines rest over the court of a crowded Upper East Side tenement, 1936.Berenice Abbott/New York Public Library
World War I veterans board a bus in lower Manhattan bound for upstate New York's Fort Slocum, where a government relief program offered dollar-a-day reforestation jobs, 1933.Library of Congress
Women talk while one of their children plays in the gutter in the southern section of the Bronx, 1936.Russell Lee/Library of Congress
Two waiters serve lunch to steel workers on a girder of the famous, soon-to-be-completed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, 1930.Keystone/Getty Images
Unemployed, single women march to demand jobs, 1933.Library of Congress
The hungry wait to be fed outside St. Peter's Mission, circa 1932.National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons
Woolworth's employees on strike for a 40-hour work week, 1937.Library of Congress
Construction in progress on the Empire State Building with the Chrysler Building in the background, 1931.Lewis Hine/New York Public Library
Children's protest parade for better housing conditions, circa 1930-1933.Library of Congress
A bootblack at work outside the New York Savings Bank, 1937.Arthur Rothstein/Library of Congress
Men on the street outside a chicken shop at an unspecified location, 1938.Jack Allison/Library of Congress
The first session of the Communist National Convention, at the Manhattan Opera House on June 24, 1936.
As the Great Depression put more and more people out of work and plunged them into poverty, communism became an increasingly attractive ideology.AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The Empire State Building under construction, 1931.Lewis Hine/New York Public Library
Leading New York gangster Charles "Lucky" Luciano in his 1931 mugshot following an arrest on charges of leading a prostitution ring.
After the Prohibition of the 1920s allowed organized crime to thrive behind illegal alcohol sales, gangsters entered the 1930s with a new level of wealth and power. It was during this time that Luciano and several other key crime figures, including Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky, helped establish the Five Families and bring the New York mafia into its modern form.New York Police Department via Wikimedia Commons
Angry crowds gather outside lower Manhattan's Bank of United States following its devastating collapse, 1931.Library of Congress
The Williamsburg Bridge as seen from the Brooklyn side, 1937.Berenice Abbott/New York Public Library
A woman on strike stands on Manhattan's 7th Avenue, 1936.Russell Lee/Library of Congress
Weighing the catch at the Fulton Market in lower Manhattan, 1934.Library of Congress
Pushcart market in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, 1939.Alan Fisher/Library of Congress
Inside McSorley's Old Ale House -- which opened its doors in the mid-19th century and remains one of New York's oldest operating pubs today -- in the East Village, 1937. Berenice Abbott/New York Public Library
A family gathers on their stoop on Jay Street in Brooklyn, 1936.Berenice Abbott/New York Public Library
Bathgate Avenue in the Bronx, an area popular with federal subsistence homesteaders coming in from New Jersey, 1936.Arthur Rothstein/Library of Congress
Young men gather in front of re-election signs for President Franklin D. Roosevelt -- whose federal relief programs helped the city through the Great Depression to a great extent -- in Midtown Manhattan, 1936.Russell Lee/Library of Congress
Elected in 1933, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia helped New York weather the Great Depression as best it could. The city's first ever mayor of either southern or eastern European descent, he unified the city's poor immigrant populations (most of which came from that region). Given his close association with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he also enacted scores of social and economic relief programs.
Pictured: LaGuardia giving a radio broadcast, 1940.Fred Palumbo/Library of Congress
Ultimately, the Great Depression exposed just how bad poverty in much of the city had already been for decades. In response, LaGuardia's initiatives saw thousands of slums and tenements fixed, torn down, or rebuilt, making way for a newer, better New York that would see extraordinary economic growth in the coming decades.
Pictured: Lower Manhattan, circa 1931.U.S. National Archives via Wikimedia Commons