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Oct. 29 dies irae, lithograph by James N. Rosenberg, 1929

On October 29, 1929, prices on the New York Stock Exchange, which had recently reached record highs, suddenly plummeted, setting off a panic among investors and a run on banks. The financial consequences and emotional impact of the event—as expressed in this evocative image of Wall Street—were devastating.

Prints and Photograph Division, Library of Congress

Oct. 29 dies irae, lithograph by James N. Rosenberg, 1929

The 1929 Stock Market Crash

The 1929 New York stock market crash reverberated throughout the nation, propelling the economic collapse that resulted in the Great Depression. To understand the cause of the financial crash, the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency investigated the market practices of Wall Street financiers and financial institutions. Informally named after its astute and dynamic chief counsel, Ferdinand Pecora, the Pecora Committee exposed wrongdoing and recovered millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. Congress drew on the committee’s discoveries to legislate regulations that would guide the economy for decades to come.

[Financial lobbyists] are powerful, but they are not powerful enough to defy Congress. They are strong, but they are not strong enough to obstruct the Government. At least that is my hope.

Senator Duncan Fletcher of Florida, Speech to the Senate, May 7, 1934