The "Great Depression" was a time of unprecedented despair. After the 1929 stock market crash, America (and many other countries) endured long, trying years of economic downturn, lost fortunes and personal tragedies:
- People were uprooted when out-of-work families packed up everything they owned and moved to California.
- Without means of transportation, people had to walk miles just to see their families.
- In other parts of the country, men left their families “at home” while they went to the industrial north to find work.
- People in the north also experienced "No Work." The bustling docks of New York City were quiet.
- Before the days of the FDR along the East River, and the Westside Parkway along the Hudson, an artist (like Russian emigre Raphael Soyer) could walk to the water’s edge where he drew images of human hopelessness.
- Employment agencies in New York City were inundated with applications from well-dressed, out-of-work people.
The "land of plenty" had become the land of hard times.