When the Jazz Age Crashed into the Great Depression.

Oct 29, 2014

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Crash of 1929 (8 pm)

The unbounded optimism of the Jazz Age and the shocking consequences when reality finally hit on October 29th, ultimately leading to the Great Depression.

By 1929, Charles Mitchell, President of the National City Bank (which would become Citibank), had popularized the idea of selling stock and high yield bonds directly to smaller investors. Mitchell and a very small group of bankers, brokers, and speculators manipulated the stock market, grew wealthy and helped create the economic boom of that fabulous decade. Their successes made them folk heroes of the day. The Crash of 1929 chronicles a fateful year through the words and experiences of the descendants of these titans of finance.

Before the crash, the success of these men convinced small investors that the stock market was a sure thing, that Wall Street was the smart place to put one’s money. The film features the recollections of people whose families experienced the crash. Groucho Marx’s son, Arthur, remembers how his famous father detested gambling, yet put his entire life savings in stocks.

The Crash of 1929 captures the unbounded optimism of the age, a time when the stock market epitomized the false promise of permanent prosperity.

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