Explore images highlighting life during The Great Depression. The Great Depression was a decade-long period of severe economic distress in the United States, beginning with a stock market crash in October of 1929. Fifteen million Americans were unemployed at the height of the depression, and nearly half of the country’s banks had failed. During this same period, the Dust Bowl in the Southwestern Great Plains of the U.S. would drive thousands of poor, rural migrants out of their homes in search of food, shelter, and work. In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt launched a New Deal plan to restore public confidence, reform the banking industry, create jobs, and rebuild the country’s infrastructure.