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Great Depression 1929-1939

1938 - A Room of Her Own

In a boarding house on East Boulevard, author Carson McCullers is at work. She will win national acclaim when her novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, is published in 1940. McCullers is one of many writers who spend time in Charlotte during their careers.

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1938 - Trolley Service Ended

March 14, 1938  - Old #85 makes its last run as buses replace Charlotte's streetcars. The city continues to grow, and the streetcars that made turn-of-the-century suburban development possible are being replaced. In a poignant ceremony at the city's crossroads known as the Square, people bid goodbye to the beloved trolley. Charlotte Streetcar

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1939 - War in Europe

September 1, 1939 - After years of growing tensions among European countries, Germany invades neighboring Poland. This marks the beginning of World War II. Over the next two years, Germany will invade nine other countries. The U.S. will try to remain uninvolved, or neutral, in the fighting. 

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1929 - Gastonia Mill Strike

June 7, 1929 - In nearby Gastonia, there is a bitter struggle at the Loray textile mill. Organizers have come to Gastonia who want workers to join together in a group called a union. Some people believe the union can help workers. Others disagree. In a violent confrontation, Police Chief Aderholt is shot and killed. The trial will be moved to Mecklenburg County and seven people will be convicted of crimes. 

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1929 - Black Monday

October 31, 1929 - Many stock market investors lose everything they own as the stock market collapses in the Crash. Families panic and try to withdraw their money from banks. As banks run out of cash they shut their doors. Bad loans and business conditions force many companies to close. There is no work for millions of Americans. The Great Depression has begun.

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1930 - No Jobs

Factories have shut down. People who had jobs just a short time ago have no money. Families try to share what little they have. A charity called the Salvation Army open soup kitchens and bread lines, trying to feed the hungry. In Charlotte, First National Bank, Mechanics & Farmers Bank, and Independence National Bank must close. They have no money to lend or to pay their depositors. Can America survive the Great Depression?

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1930 - Local Business Support

Everyone feels the hardships of the Great Depression. But some businesses survive, including Thad Tate's barbershop on East Fourth Street. Although owner and staffed by black Charlotteans, the shop serves only the white customers who live in this part of town. Black families patronize businesses in their own neighborhoods.

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1930 - Air Mail

April 1, 1930 - Mail arrives in Charlotte by airplane for the first time. Eastern Air Travel, which will become Eastern Airlines, makes the delivery as 30,000 people turn out to greet the plane. 

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1932 - Music Easing Sorrow

Even though the country is in the midst of a terrible economic downturn, the performing arts survive. The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra is founded. It will be followed in 1948 by the city's opera company. These and other cultural organizations will entertain and enrich the lives of Charlotteans for years to come.

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1932 - Keeping the Mills Open

Millions are out of work during these Depression years. But the president of the Chadwick-Hoskins Mill, Ben Gossett, has an idea. He asks President Herbert Hoover for help. The Red Cross will get 50,000 bales of cotton that are sitting in shut-down factories. Mill workers will weave cloth and sew it into clothing for the needy. This is a way to provide jobs and goods for people who have lost everything.

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