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Charles Rivers

Charles Rivers (1904-1993) was an iron worker who traded his tools for a camera on lunch hours or when photo opportunities arose. Rivers documented the construction of the Chrysler (1929) and Empire State (1930) buildings, inspired by Lewis Hine, who also photographed the Empire State Building and the men building it, Rivers being one of them. Unemployed in the Depression, he was involved in efforts to create Social Security, unemployment insurance, and housing programs. In the 1950s, Rivers worked in steel fabrication, in a chemistry lab as a technician, and a legislative aide for a New York state senator.


The Decade of the Great Depression

1929--The Great Depression begins with the collapse of stock-market prices on the New York Stock Exchange.

1932--By this year, U.S. stock market prices are 20 percent of their 1929 value, manufacturing output is 54 percent of its 1929 level, and unemployment is between 12 and 15 million workers, or 25-30 percent of the work force.

1932--The total value of world trade falls more than half.

1932--Economic distress leads to the election of the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt to the presidency.

1933--Economic distress in Germany contributes to the rise to power of Adolf Hitler.

1933--11,000 of America's 25,000 banks fail.

1936--Rapid expansion of munitions production ends the Depression in Germany.

1939--The world's longest and most severe economic slump ends in the same year that World War II breaks out.


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