7 November 1929

In New York City, the Museum of Modern Art opens to the public.

Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art logo.svg
MoMa NY USA 1.jpg
EstablishedNovember 7, 1929; 90 years ago (1929-11-07)
Location11 West 53rd Street
Manhattan, New York City
Coordinates40°45′42″N 73°58′39″W / 40.7616°N 73.9776°W / 40.7616; -73.9776Coordinates: 40°45′42″N 73°58′39″W / 40.7616°N 73.9776°W / 40.7616; -73.9776
TypeArt museum
Visitors1,992,121 (2019)[1]
DirectorGlenn D. Lowry
Public transit accessSubway: Fifth Avenue/53rd Street ("E" train"M" train trains)
Bus: M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M7, M10, M20, M50, M104

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is an art museum located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

It plays a major role in developing and collecting modern art, and is often identified as one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world.[2] MoMA's collection offers an overview of modern and contemporary art, including works of architecture and design, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, prints, illustrated books and artist's books, film, and electronic media.[3]

The MoMA Library includes approximately 300,000 books and exhibition catalogs, more than 1,000 periodical titles, and more than 40,000 files of ephemera about individual artists and groups.[4] The archives hold primary source material related to the history of modern and contemporary art.[5]


Heckscher and other buildings (1929–1939)

The idea for the Museum of Modern Art was developed in 1929 primarily by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (wife of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.) and two of her friends, Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan.[6] They became known variously as "the Ladies" or "the adamantine ladies".[7][8] They rented modest quarters for the new museum in the Heckscher Building at 730 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan,[7] and it opened to the public on November 7, 1929, nine days after the Wall Street Crash.[9] Abby Rockefeller had invited A. Conger Goodyear, the former president of the board of trustees of the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, to become president of the new museum. Abby became treasurer. At the time, it was America's premier museum devoted exclusively to modern art, and the first of its kind in Manhattan to exhibit European modernism.[10] One of Rockefeller's early recruits for the museum staff was the noted Japanese-American photographer Soichi Sunami (at that time best known for his portraits of modern dance pioneer Martha Graham), who served the museum as its official documentary photographer from 1930 until 1968.[11][12]

Goodyear enlisted Paul J. Sachs and Frank Crowninshield to join him as founding trustees. Sachs, the associate director and curator of prints and drawings at the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, was referred to in those days as a "collector of curators." Goodyear asked him to recommend a director and Sachs suggested Alfred H. Barr, Jr., a promising young protege. Under Barr's guidance, the museum's holdings quickly expanded from an initial gift of eight prints and one drawing. Its first successful loan exhibition was in November 1929, displaying paintings by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Seurat.[13]

First housed in six rooms of galleries and offices on the twelfth floor of Manhattan's Heckscher Building,[14] on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, the museum moved into three more temporary locations within the next ten years. Abby Rockefeller's husband, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was adamantly opposed to the museum (as well as to modern art itself) and refused to release funds for the venture, which had to be obtained from other sources and resulted in the frequent shifts of location. Nevertheless, he eventually donated the land for the current site of the museum, plus other gifts over time, and thus became in effect one of its greatest benefactors.[15]

During that time the museum initiated many more exhibitions of noted artists, such as the lone Vincent van Gogh exhibition on November 4, 1935. Containing an unprecedented sixty-six oils and fifty drawings from the Netherlands, as well as poignant excerpts from the artist's letters, it was a major public success due to Barr's arrangement of the exhibit, and became "a precursor to the hold van Gogh has to this day on the contemporary imagination".[16]

53rd Street (1939–present)

1930s and 1940s

The museum also gained international prominence with the hugely successful and now famous Picasso retrospective of 1939–40, held in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago. In its range of presented works, it represented a significant reinterpretation of Picasso for future art scholars and historians. This was wholly masterminded by Barr, a Picasso enthusiast, and the exhibition lionized Picasso as the greatest artist of the time, setting the model for all the museum's retrospectives that were to follow.[17] Boy Leading a Horse was briefly contested over ownership with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.[18] In 1941, MoMA hosted the ground-breaking exhibition, "Indian Art of the United States" (curated by Frederic Huntington Douglas and Rene d'Harnoncourt), that changed the way Native American arts were viewed by the public and exhibited in art museums.

The entrance to The Museum of Modern Art

When Abby Rockefeller's son Nelson was selected by the board of trustees to become its president, in 1939, at the age of 30; he was a flamboyant leader and became the prime instigator and funding source of MOMA's publicity, acquisitions, and subsequent expansion into new headquarters on 53rd Street. His brother, David Rockefeller, also joined the museum's board of trustees, in 1948, and took over the presidency, when Nelson was elected Governor of New York, in 1958.

David subsequently employed the noted architect Philip Johnson to redesign the museum garden and name it in honor of his mother, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. He and the Rockefeller family in general have retained a close association with the museum throughout its history, with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund funding the institution since 1947. Both David Rockefeller, Jr. and Sharon Percy Rockefeller (wife of Senator Jay Rockefeller) currently sit on the board of trustees.

In 1937, MoMA had shifted to offices and basement galleries in the Time-Life Building in Rockefeller Center. Its permanent and current home, now renovated, designed in the International Style by the modernist architects Philip L. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone, opened to the public on May 10, 1939, attended by an illustrious company of 6,000 people, and with an opening address via radio from the White House by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.[19]

1958 fire

On April 15, 1958, a fire on the second floor destroyed an 18-foot (5.5 m) long Monet Water Lilies painting (the current Monet water lilies was acquired shortly after the fire as a replacement). The fire started when workmen installing air conditioning were smoking near paint cans, sawdust, and a canvas dropcloth. One worker was killed in the fire and several firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation. Most of the paintings on the floor had been moved for the construction although large paintings including the Monet were left. Art work on the 3rd and 4th floors were evacuated to the Whitney Museum of American Art, which abutted it on the 54th Street side. Among the paintings that were moved was A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which had been on loan by the Art Institute of Chicago. Visitors and employees above the fire were evacuated to the roof and then jumped to the roof of an adjoining townhouse.[20]


In 1969, the MoMA was at the center of a controversy over its decision to withdraw funding from the iconic anti-war poster And babies. In 1969, the Art Workers Coalition (AWC), a group of New York City artists who opposed the Vietnam War, in collaboration with Museum of Modern Art members Arthur Drexler and , created an iconic protest poster called And babies.[21] The poster uses an image by photojournalist Ronald L. Haeberle and references the My Lai Massacre. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) had promised to fund and circulate the poster, but after seeing the 2 by 3 foot poster MoMA pulled financing for the project at the last minute.[22][23] MoMA's Board of Trustees included Nelson Rockefeller and William S. Paley (head of CBS), who reportedly "hit the ceiling" on seeing the proofs of the poster.[22] The poster was included shortly thereafter in MoMA's Information exhibition of July 2 to September 20, 1970, curated by Kynaston McShine.[24] Another controversy involved Pablo Picasso's painting Boy Leading a Horse (1905–06), donated to MoMA by William S. Paley in 1964. The status of the work as being sold under duress by its German Jewish owners in the 1930s was in dispute. The descendants of the original owners sued MoMA and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which has another Picasso painting, Le Moulin de la Galette (1900), once owned by the same family, for return of the works.[25] Both museums reached a confidential settlement with the descendants before the case went to trial and retained their respective paintings.[18][26][27] Both museums had claimed from the outset to be the proper owners of these paintings, and that the claims were illegitimate. In a joint statement the two museums wrote: "we settled simply to avoid the costs of prolonged litigation, and to ensure the public continues to have access to these important paintings."[28]


Stairs in the Museum of Modern Art
Cross-section of the Museum of Modern Art

In 1983, the Museum more than doubled its gallery and increased curatorial department by 30 percent, and added an auditorium, two restaurants and a bookstore in conjunction with the construction of the 56-story Museum Tower adjoining the museum.[29]

In 1997, the museum undertook a major renovation and expansion designed by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi with Kohn Pedersen Fox. The project, including an increase in MoMA's endowment to cover operating expenses, cost $858 million in total. The project nearly doubled the space for MoMA's exhibitions and programs and features 630,000 square feet (59,000 m2) of space. The Peggy and David Rockefeller Building on the western portion of the site houses the main exhibition galleries, and The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building provides space for classrooms, auditoriums, teacher training workshops, and the museum's expanded Library and Archives. These two buildings frame the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, which was enlarged from its original configuration.

21st century

The museum was closed for two years in connection with the renovation and moved its public-facing operations to a temporary facility called MoMA QNS in Long Island City, Queens. When MoMA reopened in 2004, the renovation was controversial. Some critics thought that Taniguchi's design was a fine example of contemporary architecture, while many others were displeased with aspects of the design, such as the flow of the space.[30][31][32] In 2005, the museum sold land that it owned west of its existing building to Hines, a Texas real estate developer, under an agreement that reserved space on the lower levels of the building Hines planned to construct there for a MoMA expansion.[33]

In 2011, MoMA acquired an adjacent building constructed and occupied by the American Folk Art Museum on West 53rd Street. The building was a well-regarded structure designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and was sold in connection with a financial restructuring of the Folk Art Museum.[34] When MoMA announced that it would demolish the building in connection with its expansion, there was outcry and considerable discussion about the issue, but the museum ultimately proceeded with its original plans.[35]

The Hines building, designed by Jean Nouvel and called 53W53, received construction approval in 2014.[36] Around the time of Hines' construction approval, MoMA unveiled its expansion plans, which encompass space in 53W53, as well as construction on the former site of the American Folk Art Museum.[37] The expansion plan was developed by the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler. The first phase of construction began in 2014. In June 2017, patrons and the public were welcomed into MoMA to see the completion of the first phase of the $450 million expansion to the museum.[38]

Spread over three floors of the art mecca off Fifth Avenue are 15,000 square-feet (about 1,400 square-meters) of reconfigured galleries, a new, second gift shop, a redesigned cafe and espresso bar and, facing the sculpture garden, two lounges graced with black marble quarried in France.[38]

The museum expansion project increased the publicly accessibly space by 25% compared to when the Tanaguchi building was completed in 2004.[39] The expansion allowed for even more of the museum's collection of nearly 200,000 works to be displayed.[38] The new spaces also allow visitors to enjoy a relaxing sit-down in one of the two new lounges, or even have a fully catered meal.[38] The two new lounges include "The Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin Lounge" and "The Daniel and Jane Och Lounge".[38][40] The goal of this renovation is to help expand the collection and display of work by women, Latinos, blacks, Asians, and other marginalized communities.[41] In connection with the renovation, MoMA shifted its approach to presenting its holdings, moving away from separating the collection by disciplines such as painting, design and works on paper toward an integrated chronological presentation that encompasses all areas of the collection.[39]

The Museum of Modern Art closed for another round of major renovations from June to October 2019.[41][42] Upon reopening on October 21, 2019, MoMA added 47,000 square feet (4,400 m2) of gallery space,[43] and its total floor area was 708,000 square feet (65,800 m2).[44] The expansion and refurbishment was overseen by the architectural firm of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.[45] The institution began offering free online classes in April 2014.[46]

Exhibition houses

The MoMA occasionally has sponsored and hosted temporary exhibition houses, which have reflected seminal ideas in architectural history.


Claude Monet, Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond, c.1920

Considered by many to have the best collection of modern Western masterpieces in the world, MoMA's holdings include more than 150,000 individual pieces in addition to approximately 22,000 films and 4 million film stills. (Access to the collection of film stills ended in 2002, and the collection is mothballed in a vault in Hamlin, Pennsylvania.[50]) The collection houses such important and familiar works as the following:

Selected collection highlights

It also holds works by a wide range of influential European and American artists including Auguste Rodin, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Joan Miró, Aristide Maillol, Piet Mondrian, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Klee, Fernand Léger, René Magritte, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Arshile Gorky, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, David Smith, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and hundreds of others.

MoMA developed a world-renowned art photography collection first under Edward Steichen (1947-1961) and then under Steichen's hand-picked successor John Szarkowski (1962-1991), which included photos by Todd Webb.[51] The department was founded by Beaumont Newhall in 1940.[52] Under Szarkowski, it focused on a more traditionally modernist approach to the medium, one that emphasized documentary images and orthodox darkroom techniques.


In 1932, museum founder Alfred Barr stressed the importance of introducing "the only great art form peculiar to the twentieth century" to "the American public which should appreciate good films and support them". Museum Trustee and film producer John Hay Whitney became the first chairman of the Museum's Film Library from 1935 to 1951. The collection Whitney assembled with the help of film curator Iris Barry was so successful that in 1937 the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences commended the Museum with an award "for its significant work in collecting films ... and for the first time making available to the public the means of studying the historical and aesthetic development of the motion picture as one of the major arts".[53]

The first curator and founder of the Film Library was Iris Barry, a British film critic and author, whose three decades of pioneering work in collecting films and presenting them in coherent artistic and historical contexts gained recognition for the cinema as the major new art form of our century. Barry and her successors have built a collection comprising some eight thousand titles today, concentrating on assembling an outstanding collection of the important works of international film art, with emphasis being placed on obtaining the highest-quality materials.[54]

The exiled film scholar Siegfried Kracauer worked at the MoMA film archive on a psychological history of German film between 1941 and 1943. The result of his study, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film (1947), traces the birth of Nazism from the cinema of the Weimar Republic and helped lay the foundation of modern film criticism.

Under the Museum of Modern Art Department of Film, the film collection includes more than 25,000 titles and ranks as one of the world's finest museum archives of international film art. The department owns prints of many familiar feature-length movies, including Citizen Kane and Vertigo, but its holdings also contains many less-traditional pieces, including Andy Warhol's eight-hour Empire, Fred Halsted's gay pornographic L.A. Plays Itself (screened before a capacity audience on April 23, 1974), various TV commercials, and Chris Cunningham's music video for Björk's All Is Full of Love.


The MoMA library is located in Midtown Manhattan, with offsite storage in Long Island City, Queens. The non-circulating collection documents modern and contemporary art including painting, sculpture, prints, photography, film, performance, and architecture from 1880–present. The collection includes 300,000 books, 1,000 periodicals, and 40,000 files about artists and artistic groups. There are over 10,000 artist books in the collection.[55] The libraries are open by appointment to all researchers. The library's catalog is called "Dadabase".[4] Dadabase includes records for all of the material in the library, including books, artist books, exhibition catalogs, special collections materials, and electronic resources.[4] The Museum of Modern Art's collection of artist books includes works by Ed Ruscha, Marcel Broodthaers, Susan Bee, Carl Andre, and David Horvitz.[56]

Additionally, the library has subscription electronic resources along with Dadabase. These include journal databases (such as JSTOR and Art Full Text), auction results indexes (ArtFact and Artnet), the ARTstor image database, and WorldCat union catalog.[55]

Architecture and design

MoMA's Department of Architecture and Design was founded in 1932[57] as the first museum department in the world dedicated to the intersection of architecture and design.[58] The department's first director was Philip Johnson who served as curator between 1932–34 and 1946–54.[59] The next departmental head was Arthur Drexler, who was curator from 1951 to 1956 and then served as head until 1986.[60]

The collection consists of 28,000 works including architectural models, drawings and photographs.[57] One of the highlights of the collection is the Mies van der Rohe Archive.[58] It also includes works from such legendary architects and designers as Frank Lloyd Wright,[61][62][63][64] Paul László, the Eameses, Betty Cooke, Isamu Noguchi, and George Nelson. The design collection contains many industrial and manufactured pieces, ranging from a self-aligning ball bearing to an entire Bell 47D1 helicopter. In 2012, the department acquired a selection of 14 video games, the basis of an intended collection of 40 that is to range from Pac-Man (1980) to Minecraft (2011).[65]



MoMA has seen its average number of visitors rise from about 1.5 million a year to 2.5 million after its new granite and glass renovation. In 2009, the museum reported 119,000 members and 2.8 million visitors over the previous fiscal year. MoMA attracted its highest-ever number of visitors, 3.09 million, during its 2010 fiscal year;[66] however, attendance dropped 11 percent to 2.8 million in 2011.[67] Attendance in 2016 was 2.8 million, down from 3.1 million in 2015.[68]

The museum was open every day since its founding in 1929, until 1975, when it closed one day a week (originally Wednesdays) to reduce operating expenses. In 2012, it again opened every day, including Tuesday, the one day it has traditionally been closed.[69]


The Museum of Modern Art charges an admission fee of $25 per adult.[70] Upon MoMA's reopening, its admission cost increased from $12 to $20, making it one of the most expensive museums in the city. However, it has free entry on Fridays after 5:30pm, as part of the Uniqlo Free Friday Nights program. Many New York area college students also receive free admission to the museum.[71]


A private non-profit organization, MoMA is the seventh-largest U.S. museum by budget;[72] its annual revenue is about $145 million (none of which is profit). In 2011, the museum reported net assets (basically, a total of all the resources it has on its books, except the value of the art) of just over $1 billion.

Unlike most museums, the museum eschews government funding, instead subsisting on a fragmented budget with a half-dozen different sources of income, none larger than a fifth.[73] Before the economic crisis of late 2008, the MoMA's board of trustees decided to sell its equities in order to move into an all-cash position. An $858 million capital campaign funded the 2002–04 expansion, with David Rockefeller donating $77 million in cash.[72] In 2005, Rockefeller pledged an additional $100 million toward the museum's endowment.[74] In 2011, Moody's Investors Service, a bond rating agency, rated $57 million worth of new debt in 2010 with a positive outlook and echoed their Aa2 bond credit rating for the underlying institution. The agency noted that MoMA has "superior financial flexibility with over $332 million of unrestricted financial resources", and has had solid attendance and record sales at its retail outlets around the city and online. Some of the challenges that Moody's noted were the reliance that the museum has on the tourist industry in New York for its operating revenue, and a large amount of debt. The museum at the time had a 2.4 debt-to-operating revenues ratio, but it was also noted that MoMA intended to retire $370 million worth of debt in the next few years. Standard & Poor's raised its long-term rating for the museum as it benefited from the fundraising of its trustees.[75] After construction expenses for the new galleries are covered, the Modern estimates that some $65 million will go to its $650 million endowment.

MoMA spent $32 million to acquire art for the fiscal year ending in June 2012.[76]

MoMA employed about 815 people in 2007.[73] The museum's tax filings from the past few years suggest a shift among the highest paid employees from curatorial staff to management.[77] The museum's director Glenn D. Lowry earned $1.6 million in 2009[78] and lives in a rent-free $6 million apartment above the museum.[79]

MoMA was forced to close in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.[80] Citing the coronavirus shutdown, MoMA fired its art educators in April 2020.[81] In May 2020, it was reported that MoMA would reduce its annual budget from $180 to $135 million starting July 1. Exhibition and publication funding was cut by half, and staff reduced from around 960 to 800.[80]

Key people

Officers and the board of trustees

Currently, the board of trustees includes 46 trustees and 15 life trustees. Even including the board's 14 "honorary" trustees, who do not have voting rights and do not play as direct a role in the museum, this amounts to an average individual contribution of more than $7 million.[77] The Founders Wall was created in 2004, when MoMA's expansion was completed, and features the names of actual founders in addition to those who gave significant gifts; about a half-dozen names have been added since 2004. For example, Ileana Sonnabend's name was added in 2012, even though she was only 15 when the museum was established in 1929.[82]

Board of trustees

Board of trustees:


Chief curators

  • Philip Johnson, chief curator of architecture and design (1932-1934 and 1946-1954)
  • Arthur Drexler, chief curator of architecture and design (1951-1956)
  • Peter Galassi, chief curator of photography (1991–2011)[52][85]
  • Cornelia Butler, chief curator of drawings (2006–2013)
  • Barry Bergdoll, chief curator of architecture and design (2007–2013)
  • Rajendra Roy, chief curator of film (2007–present)
  • Ann Temkin, chief curator of painting and sculpture (2008–present)[86]
  • Klaus Biesenbach, director of MoMA PS1 and chief curator at large (2009–2018)
  • Sabine Breitwieser, chief curator of media and performance art (2010–2013)
  • Christophe Cherix, chief curator of prints and illustrated books (2010–2013), drawings and prints (2013–present)
  • Paola Antonelli, director of research and development and senior curator of architecture and design (2012–present)
  • Quentin Bajac, chief curator of photography (2012–2018)
  • Stuart Comer, chief curator of media and performance art (2014–present)
  • Martino Stierli, chief curator of architecture and design (2015–present)

See also



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  3. ^ Museum of Modern Art – New York Art World Archived February 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b c "Library". MoMA. Archived from the original on February 5, 2016.
  5. ^ "About the Archives". MoMA. Archived from the original on February 13, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Museum of Modern Art". The Art Story. Archived from the original on March 20, 2015. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
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  8. ^ Dilworth, Leah (2003). Acts of Possession: Collecting in America. Rutgers University Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-8135-3272-1.
  9. ^ Grieveson, Lee; Haidee Wasson (November 3, 2008). Inventing Film Studies. Duke University Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-8223-8867-8.
  10. ^ FitzGerald, Michael (January 1, 1996). Making Modernism: Picasso and the Creation of the Market for Twentieth-Century Art (reprint ed.). Berkeley: Univ of Calif Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-0520206533. Retrieved July 25, 2020. Before the founding of the Museum of Modern Art in 1929, hardly any institution in the country—and none in Manhattan—would exhibit European modernism.
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External links

24 October 1929

“Black Thursday” on the New York Stock Exchange.

Wall Street Crash of 1929
Crowd outside nyse.jpg
Crowd gathering on Wall Street after the 1929 crash
DateSeptember 4 – November 13, 1929
TypeStock market crash
CauseFears of excessive speculation by the Federal Reserve

The Wall Street Crash of 1929, also known as the Great Crash, was a major American stock market crash that occurred in the fall of 1929. It started in September and ended late in October, when share prices on the New York Stock Exchange collapsed.

It was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States, when taking into consideration the full extent and duration of its aftereffects.[1] The crash, which followed the London Stock Exchange's crash of September, signaled the beginning of the Great Depression.


The "Roaring Twenties", the decade following World War I that led to the crash,[2] was a time of wealth and excess. Building on post-war optimism, rural Americans migrated to the cities in vast numbers throughout the decade with the hopes of finding a more prosperous life in the ever-growing expansion of America's industrial sector.[3] While American cities prospered, however, the overproduction of agricultural produce created widespread financial despair among American farmers throughout the decade,[3] which was later blamed as one of the key factors that led to the 1929 stock market crash.[4]

Despite the dangers of speculation, it was widely believed that the stock market would continue to rise forever: on March 25, 1929, after the Federal Reserve warned of excessive speculation, a small crash occurred as investors started to sell stocks at a rapid pace, exposing the market's shaky foundation.[5] Two days later, banker Charles E. Mitchell announced that his company, the National City Bank, would provide $25 million in credit to stop the market's slide.[5] Mitchell's move brought a temporary halt to the financial crisis, and call money declined from 20 to 8 percent.[5] However, the American economy showed ominous signs of trouble:[5] steel production declined, construction was sluggish, automobile sales went down, and consumers were building up high debts because of easy credit.[5]

Despite all the economic warning signs and the market breaks in March and May 1929, stocks resumed their advance in June and the gains continued almost unabated until early September 1929 (the Dow Jones average gained more than 20% between June and September). The market had been on a nine-year run that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average increase in value tenfold, peaking at 381.17 on September 3, 1929.[5] Shortly before the crash, economist Irving Fisher famously proclaimed "Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."[6] The optimism and the financial gains of the great bull market were shaken after a well-publicized early September prediction from financial expert Roger Babson that "a crash is coming, and it may be terrific".[7] The initial September decline was thus called the "Babson Break" in the press. That was the start of the Great Crash, but until the severe phase of the crash in October, many investors regarded the September "Babson Break" as a "healthy correction" and buying opportunity.

On September 20, the London Stock Exchange crashed when top British investor Clarence Hatry and many of his associates were jailed for fraud and forgery.[8] The London crash greatly weakened the optimism of American investment in markets overseas:[8] in the days leading up to the crash, the market was severely unstable. Periods of selling and high volumes were interspersed with brief periods of rising prices and recovery.


Overall Price Index[citation needed]on Wall Street from just before the crash in 1929 to 1932 when the price bottomed out

Selling intensified in mid-October. On October 24, "Black Thursday", the market lost 11 percent of its value at the opening bell on very heavy trading.[9] The huge volume meant that the report of prices on the ticker tape in brokerage offices around the nation was hours late and so investors had no idea what most stocks were actually trading for. Several leading Wall Street bankers met to find a solution to the panic and chaos on the trading floor.[10] The meeting included Thomas W. Lamont, acting head of Morgan Bank; Albert Wiggin, head of the Chase National Bank; and Charles E. Mitchell, president of the National City Bank of New York. They chose Richard Whitney, vice president of the Exchange, to act on their behalf.

With the bankers' financial resources behind him, Whitney placed a bid to purchase a large block of shares in U.S. Steel at a price well above the current market. As traders watched, Whitney then placed similar bids on other "blue chip" stocks. The tactic was similar to one that had ended the Panic of 1907, and succeeded in halting the slide. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered, closing with it down only 6.38 points for the day.

The trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 1930, six months after the crash of 1929

On October 28, "Black Monday",[11] more investors facing margin calls decided to get out of the market, and the slide continued with a record loss in the Dow for the day of 38.33 points, or 12.82%.[9]

The next day, the panic selling reached its peak with some stocks having no buyers at any price.[12] The Dow lost an additional 30.57 points, or 11.73%, for a total drop of 23% in two days.[13][14][15][16]

On October 29, William C. Durant joined with members of the Rockefeller family and other financial giants to buy large quantities of stocks to demonstrate to the public their confidence in the market, but their efforts failed to stop the large decline in prices. The massive volume of stocks traded that day made the ticker continue to run until about 7:45 p.m.

Dow Jones Industrial Average on Black Monday and Black Tuesday[17]
Date Change % Change Close
October 28, 1929 −38.33 −12.82 260.64
October 29, 1929 −30.57 −11.73 230.07

After a one-day recovery on October 30, when the Dow regained 28.40 points, or 12.34%, to close at 258.47, the market continued to fall, arriving at an interim bottom on November 13, 1929, with the Dow closing at 198.60. The market then recovered for several months, starting on November 14, with the Dow gaining 18.59 points to close at 217.28, and reaching a secondary closing peak (bear market rally) of 294.07 on April 17, 1930. The Dow then embarked on another, much longer, steady slide from April 1930 to July 8, 1932, when it closed at 41.22, its lowest level of the 20th century, concluding an 89.2% loss for the index in less than three years. [18]

Beginning on March 15, 1933, and continuing through the rest of the 1930s, the Dow began to slowly regain the ground it had lost. The largest percentage increases of the Dow Jones occurred during the early and mid-1930s. In late 1937, there was a sharp dip in the stock market, but prices held well above the 1932 lows. The Dow Jones did not return to the peak closing of September 3, 1929, until November 23, 1954.[19][20][21]


In 1932, the Pecora Commission was established by the U.S. Senate to study the causes of the crash.[22] The following year, the U.S. Congress passed the Glass–Steagall Act mandating a separation between commercial banks, which take deposits and extend loans, and investment banks, which underwrite, issue, and distribute stocks, bonds, and other securities.[23]

After the experience of the 1929 crash, stock markets around the world instituted measures to suspend trading in the event of rapid declines, claiming that the measures would prevent such panic sales. However, the one-day crash of Black Monday, October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.6%, as well as Black Monday of March 16, 2020 (-12.9%), were worse in percentage terms than any single day of the 1929 crash (although the combined 25% decline of October 28–29, 1929 was larger than that of October 19, 1987, and remains the worst two-day decline as of March 2020).[24]

World War II

The American mobilization for World War II at the end of 1941 moved approximately ten million people out of the civilian labor force and into the war.[25] World War II had a dramatic effect on many parts of the economy, and may have hastened the end of the Great Depression in the United States.[26] Government-financed capital spending accounted for only 5 percent of the annual U.S. investment in industrial capital in 1940; by 1943, the government accounted for 67 percent of U.S. capital investment.[26]


The crash followed a speculative boom that had taken hold in the late 1920s. During the latter half of the 1920s, steel production, building construction, retail turnover, automobiles registered, and even railway receipts advanced from record to record. The combined net profits of 536 manufacturing and trading companies showed an increase, in the first six months of 1929, of 36.6% over 1928, itself a record half-year. Iron and steel led the way with doubled gains.[27] Such figures set up a crescendo of stock-exchange speculation that led hundreds of thousands of Americans to invest heavily in the stock market. A significant number of them were borrowing money to buy more stocks. By August 1929, brokers were routinely lending small investors more than two-thirds of the face value of the stocks they were buying. Over $8.5 billion was out on loan,[28] more than the entire amount of currency circulating in the U.S. at the time.[29][30]

The rising share prices encouraged more people to invest, hoping the share prices would rise further. Speculation thus fueled further rises and created an economic bubble. Because of margin buying, investors stood to lose large sums of money if the market turned down—or even failed to advance quickly enough. The average price to earnings ratio of S&P Composite stocks was 32.6 in September 1929,[31] clearly above historical norms.[32] According to economist John Kenneth Galbraith, this exuberance also resulted in a large number of people placing their savings and money in leverage investment products like Goldman Sachs' "Blue Ridge trust" and "Shenandoah trust". These too crashed in 1929, resulting in losses to banks of $475 billion 2010 dollars ($556.91 billion in 2019).[33]

Sir George Paish

Good harvests had built up a mass of 250 million bushels of wheat to be "carried over" when 1929 opened. By May there was also a winter-wheat crop of 560 million bushels ready for harvest in the Mississippi Valley. This oversupply caused a drop in wheat prices so heavy that the net incomes of the farming population from wheat were threatened with extinction. Stock markets are always sensitive to the future state of commodity markets[citation needed], and the slump in Wall Street predicted for May by Sir George Paish arrived on time. In June 1929, the position was saved by a severe drought in the Dakotas and the Canadian West, plus unfavorable seed times in Argentina and eastern Australia. The oversupply was now wanted to fill the gaps in the 1929 world wheat production. From 97¢ per bushel in May, the price of wheat rose to $1.49 in July. When it was seen that at this figure American farmers would get more for their crop than for that of 1928, stocks went up again.[34]

In August, the wheat price fell when France and Italy were bragging of a magnificent harvest, and the situation in Australia improved. That sent a shiver through Wall Street and stock prices quickly dropped, but word of cheap stocks brought a fresh rush of "stags", amateur speculators and investors. Congress voted for a $100 million relief package for the farmers, hoping to stabilize wheat prices. By October though, the price had fallen to $1.31 per bushel.[35]

Other important economic barometers were also slowing or even falling by mid-1929, including car sales, house sales, and steel production. The falling commodity and industrial production may have dented even American self-confidence, and the stock market peaked on September 3 at 381.17 just after Labor Day, then started to falter after Roger Babson issued his prescient "market crash" forecast. By the end of September, the market was down 10% from the peak (the "Babson Break"). Selling intensified in early and mid October, with sharp down days punctuated by a few up days. Panic selling on huge volume started the week of October 21 and intensified and culminated on October 24, the 28th, and especially the 29th ("Black Tuesday").[36]

The president of the Chase National Bank, Albert H. Wiggin, said at the time:

"We are reaping the natural fruit of the orgy of speculation in which millions of people have indulged. It was inevitable, because of the tremendous increase in the number of stockholders in recent years, that the number of sellers would be greater than ever when the boom ended and selling took the place of buying."[37][38]


United States

Crowd at New York's American Union Bank during a bank run early in the Great Depression

Together, the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression formed the largest financial crisis of the 20th century.[39] The panic of October 1929 has come to serve as a symbol of the economic contraction that gripped the world during the next decade.[40] The falls in share prices on October 24 and 29, 1929 were practically instantaneous in all financial markets, except Japan.[41]

The Wall Street Crash had a major impact on the U.S. and world economy, and it has been the source of intense academic historical, economic, and political debate from its aftermath until the present day. Some people believed that abuses by utility holding companies contributed to the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Depression that followed.[42] Many people blamed the crash on commercial banks that were too eager to put deposits at risk on the stock market.[43]

In 1930, 1,352 banks held more than $853 million in deposits; in 1931, one year later, 2,294 banks failed with nearly $1.7 billion in deposits. Many businesses failed (28,285 failures and a daily rate of 133 in 1931).

The 1929 crash brought the Roaring Twenties to a halt.[44] As tentatively expressed by economic historian Charles P. Kindleberger, in 1929, there was no lender of last resort effectively present, which, if it had existed and been properly exercised, would have been key in shortening the business slowdown that normally follows financial crises.[41] The crash instigated widespread and long-lasting consequences for the United States. Historians still debate whether the 1929 crash sparked the Great Depression[45] or if it merely coincided with the bursting of a loose credit-inspired economic bubble. Only 16% of American households were invested in the stock market within the United States during the period leading up to this depression, suggesting that the crash carried somewhat less of a weight in causing it.[citation needed]

Unemployed men march in Toronto

However, the psychological effects of the crash reverberated across the nation as businesses became aware of the difficulties in securing capital market investments for new projects and expansions. Business uncertainty naturally affects job security for employees, and as the American worker (the consumer) faced uncertainty with regards to income, naturally the propensity to consume declined. The decline in stock prices caused bankruptcies and severe macroeconomic difficulties, including contraction of credit, business closures, firing of workers, bank failures, decline of the money supply, and other economically depressing events.[46]

The resultant rise of mass unemployment is seen as a result of the crash, although the crash is by no means the sole event that contributed to the depression. The Wall Street Crash is usually seen as having the greatest impact on the events that followed and therefore is widely regarded as signaling the downward economic slide that initiated the Great Depression. True or not, the consequences were dire for almost everybody. Most academic experts agree on one aspect of the crash: It wiped out billions of dollars of wealth in one day, and this immediately depressed consumer buying.[45]

The failure set off a worldwide run on US gold deposits (i.e. the dollar), and forced the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates into the slump. Some 4,000 banks and other lenders ultimately failed. Also, the uptick rule,[47] which allowed short selling only when the last tick in a stock's price was positive, was implemented after the 1929 market crash to prevent short sellers from driving the price of a stock down in a bear raid.[48]


The stock market crash of October 1929 led directly to the Great Depression in Europe. When stocks plummeted on the New York Stock Exchange, the world noticed immediately. Although financial leaders in the United Kingdom, as in the United States, vastly underestimated the extent of the crisis that ensued, it soon became clear that the world's economies were more interconnected than ever. The effects of the disruption to the global system of financing, trade, and production and the subsequent meltdown of the American economy were soon felt throughout Europe.[49]

In 1930 and 1931, in particular, unemployed workers went on strike, demonstrated in public, and otherwise took direct action to call public attention to their plight. Within the UK, protests often focused on the so-called means test, which the government had instituted in 1931 to limit the amount of unemployment payments made to individuals and families. For working people, the Means Test seemed an intrusive and insensitive way to deal with the chronic and relentless deprivation caused by the economic crisis. The strikes were met forcefully, with police breaking up protests, arresting demonstrators, and charging them with crimes related to the violation of public order.[49]

Academic debate

There is ongoing debate among economists and historians as to what role the crash played in subsequent economic, social, and political events. The Economist argued in a 1998 article that the Depression did not start with the stock market crash,[50] nor was it clear at the time of the crash that a depression was starting. They asked, "Can a very serious Stock Exchange collapse produce a serious setback to industry when industrial production is for the most part in a healthy and balanced condition?" They argued that there must be some setback, but there was not yet sufficient evidence to prove that it would be long or would necessarily produce a general industrial depression.[51]

However, The Economist also cautioned that some bank failures were also to be expected and some banks may not have had any reserves left for financing commercial and industrial enterprises. It concluded that the position of the banks was the key to the situation, but what was going to happen could not have been foreseen.[51]

Some academics view the Wall Street Crash of 1929 as part of a historical process that was a part of the new theories of boom and bust. According to economists such as Joseph Schumpeter and Nikolai Kondratiev, the crash was merely a historical event in the continuing process known as economic cycles. The impact of the crash was merely to increase the speed at which the cycle proceeded to its next level.

Milton Friedman's A Monetary History of the United States, co-written with Anna Schwartz, argues that what made the "great contraction" so severe was not the downturn in the business cycle, protectionism, or the 1929 stock market crash in themselves but the collapse of the banking system during three waves of panics from 1930 to 1933.[52]

See also


  1. ^ Bone, James. "The beginner's guide to stock markets". The Times. London. Archived from the original on May 25, 2010. Retrieved January 29, 2012. The most savage bear market of all time was the Wall Street Crash of 1929–1932, in which share prices fell by 89 percent.
  2. ^ "America gets depressed by thoughts of 1929 revisited" The Sunday Times
  3. ^ a b Dan Bryan. "The Great (Farm) Depression of the 1920s". American History USA. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  4. ^ http://millercenter.org/president/coolidge/essays/biography/8 Archived November 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Timeline: A selected Wall Street chronology". PBS. Archived from the original on September 23, 2008. Retrieved September 30, 2008.
  6. ^ Teach, Edward (May 1, 2007). "The Bright Side of Bubbles". CFO. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
  7. ^ Galbraith, John Kenneth (1997). The Great Crash, 1929. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 84. ISBN 0-395-85999-9.
  8. ^ a b Harold Bierman, Jr. (April 1998). The Causes of the 1929 Stock Market Crash: A Speculative Orgy or a New Era?. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 19–29. ISBN 978-0-313-30629-7.
  9. ^ a b "The Great Crash of 1929, some key dates". Financial Post. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
  10. ^ The Great Depression, by Robert Goldston, pages 39–40
  11. ^ "The Panic of 2008? What Do We Name the Crisis?" The Wall Street Journal
  12. ^ "Market crash of 1929: Some facts of the economic downturn". Economic Times. Times Inernet. October 22, 2017. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  13. ^ "Timeline". NYSE Euronext. NYSE. Archived from the original on June 11, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
  14. ^ Weeks, Linton. "History's Advice During A Panic? Don't Panic". NPR. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
  15. ^ "The Crash of 1929". PBS. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
  16. ^ Salsman, Richard M. "The Cause and Consequences of the Great Depression, Part 1: What Made the Roaring '20s Roar", The Intellectual Activist, ISSN 0730-2355, June 2004, p. 16.
  17. ^ "Dow Jones Industrial Average All-Time Largest One Day Gains and Losses". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  18. ^ According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Economic Data website, based on a monthly timeseries 1929 September – 1932 June, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 87.1% while the Cowles Commission and S&P's all stock index lost 85.0%: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=qj2m , https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=qj2l.
  19. ^ "DJIA 1929 to Present", Yahoo! Finance
  20. ^ "U.S. Industrial Stocks Pass 1929 Peak", The Times, November 24, 1954, p. 12.
  21. ^ Perrin, Olivier (July 23, 2011). "LES GRANDS CHOCS DU XXE SIÈCLE (3) - En 1929, six jours de panique à Wall Street annoncent le pire, à venir" [THE MAJOR SHOCKS OF THE 20TH CENTURY (3) - In 1929, six days of panic on Wall Street announce the worst, to come] (in French) (3) (Le Temps SA ed.). Geneva: Le Temps. ISSN 1423-3967. OCLC 38739976. Archived from the original on February 25, 2019. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  22. ^ King, Gilbert. "The Man Who Busted the 'Banksters'". Smithsonian. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  23. ^ Reed, Eric (April 18, 2019). "What Is The Glass-Steagall Act?". TheStreet.com. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  24. ^ "The End of Optimism? The Great Depression in Europe". Digital History Reader. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  25. ^ Selective Service System. (May 27, 2003). Induction Statistics. In Inductions (by year) from World War I Through the End of the Draft (1973). Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  26. ^ a b Hyman, Louis (December 16, 2011). "How Did World War II End the Great Depression?: Echoes". Bloomberg. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
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Further reading

  • Axon, Gordon V. The Stock Market Crash of 1929. London, England: Mason & Lipscomb Publishers Inc., 1974.
  • Bierman, Harold (March 26, 2008). Whaples, Robert (ed.). "The 1929 Stock Market Crash". EH.Net Encyclopedia. Santa Clara, California: Economic History Association. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  • Brooks, John. (1969). Once in Golconda: A True Drama of Wall Street 1920–1938. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-393-01375-8.
  • Galbraith, John Kenneth. "1929: New York City." Lapham's Quarterly, no. 2 (Spring 2015): 145–146
  • Klein, Maury. (2001). Rainbow's End: The Crash of 1929. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513516-4.
  • Klingaman, William K. (1989). 1929: The Year of the Great Crash. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-016081-0.
  • Leone, Bruno. The Great Depression: Opposing Viewpoints, 14–25. San Diego, California: Bender, David L., 1994.
  • Pendergast, Tom. American Decades: 1920–1929. Farmington Hills, Michigan: UXL American Decades Publishing, 2003.
  • Reed, Lawrence W. (1981 & 2008). Great Myths of the Great Depression. Midland, Michigan: Mackinac Center.
  • Rothbard, Murray N. (2000). America's Great Depression (PDF) (5th ed.). Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig von Mises Institute. ISBN 978-0-945466-05-5. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  • Shachtman, Tom. (1979). The Day America Crashed: A Narrative Account of the Great Stock Market Crash of October 24, 1929. New York: G.P. Putnam. ISBN 0-399-11613-3.
  • Thomas, Gordon and Morgan-Witts, Max. (1979). The Day the Bubble Burst: A Social History of the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-14370-2.
  • Watkins, Tom H. The Great Depression: America in the 1930s, 22–55. New York: Little, Brown & Company, 1993.

External links

Media related to Wall Street Crash of 1929 at Wikimedia Commons

11 February 1929

The Kingdom of Italy and the Vatican sign the Lateran Treaty.

The Lateran Treaty was one of the Lateran Pacts of 1929 or Lateran Accords, agreements made in 1929 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, settling the “Roman Question”. They are named after the Lateran Palace, where they were signed on 11 February 1929. The Italian parliament ratified them on 7 June 1929. It recognized Vatican City as an independent state, with the Italian government, at the time led by Benito Mussolini as prime minister, agreeing to give the Roman Catholic Church financial compensation for the loss of the Papal States. In 1947, the Lateran Treaty was recognized in the Constitution of Italy as regulating the relations between the state and the Catholic Church.

The Lateran Pacts are often presented as three treaties: a 27-article treaty of conciliation, a 3-article financial convention, and a 45-article concordat. However, the website of the Holy See presents the pacts as two, making the financial convention an annex of the treaty of conciliation. In this presentation, the pacts consisted of two documents, the first of which had four annexes:

A political treaty recognising the full sovereignty of the Holy See in the State of Vatican City, which was thereby established, a document accompanied by the annexes:
A plan of the territory of the Vatican City-State, with an area of 108.7 acres
A list and plans of the buildings with extraterritorial privilege and exemption from expropriation and taxes
A financial convention agreed on as a definitive settlement of the claims of the Holy See following the loss in 1870 of its territories and property. The Italian state agreed to pay 750,000,000 lire immediately plus consolidated bearer bonds with a coupon rate of 5% and a nominal value of 1,000,000,000 lire. It thus paid less than it would have paid {3.25 million liras annually} under the 1871 Law of Guarantees, which the Holy See had not accepted.
A concordat regulating relations between the Catholic Church and the Italian state

During the unification of Italy in the mid-19th century, the Papal States resisted incorporation into the new nation, even as all the other Italian countries, except for San Marino, joined it; Camillo Cavour’s dream of proclaiming the Kingdom of Italy from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica did not come to pass. The nascent Kingdom of Italy invaded and occupied Romagna in 1860, leaving only Latium in the Pope’s domains. Latium, including Rome itself, was occupied and annexed in 1870. For the following sixty years, relations between the Papacy and the Italian government were hostile, and the status of the Pope became known as the “Roman Question”.

“ The Popes knew that Rome was irrevocably the capital of Italy. There was nothing they wanted less than to govern it or be burdened with a papal kingdom. What they wished was independence, a foothold on the earth that belonged to no other sovereign. ”
Negotiations for the settlement of the Roman Question began in 1926 between the government of Italy and the Holy See, and culminated in the agreements of the Lateran Pacts, signed—the Treaty says—for King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy by Benito Mussolini, Prime Minister and Head of Government, and for Pope Pius XI by Pietro Gasparri, Cardinal Secretary of State, on 11 February 1929. It was ratified on 7 June 1929. The agreements were signed in the Lateran Palace, hence the name by which they are known.

The agreements included a political treaty which created the state of the Vatican City and guaranteed full and independent sovereignty to the Holy See. The Pope was pledged to perpetual neutrality in international relations and to abstention from mediation in a controversy unless specifically requested by all parties. In the first article of the treaty, Italy reaffirmed the principle established in the 4 March 1848 Statute of the Kingdom of Italy, that “the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Religion is the only religion of the State”. The attached financial agreement was accepted as settlement of all the claims of the Holy See against Italy arising from the loss of temporal power of the Papal States in 1870.

The sum thereby given to the Holy See was actually less than Italy declared it would pay under the terms of the Law of Guarantees of 1871, by which the Italian government guaranteed to Pope Pius IX and his successors the use of, but not sovereignty over, the Vatican and Lateran Palaces and a yearly income of 3,250,000 lire as indemnity for the loss of sovereignty and territory. The Holy See, on the grounds of the need for clearly manifested independence from any political power in its exercise of spiritual jurisdiction, had refused to accept the settlement offered in 1871, and the Popes thereafter until the signing of the Lateran Treaty considered themselves prisoners in the Vatican, a small, limited area inside Rome.

To commemorate the successful conclusion of the negotiations, Mussolini commissioned the Via della Conciliazione, which would symbolically link the Vatican City to the heart of Rome.

After 1946
The Constitution of the Italian Republic, adopted in 1947, states that relations between the State and the Catholic Church “are regulated by the Lateran Treaties”.

In 1984, an agreement was signed, revising the concordat. Among other things, both sides declared: “The principle of the Catholic religion as the sole religion of the Italian State, originally referred to by the Lateran Pacts, shall be considered to be no longer in force”. The Church’s position as the sole state-supported religion of Italy was also ended, replacing the state financing with a personal income tax called the otto per mille, to which other religious groups, Christian and non-Christian, also have access. As of 2013, there are ten other religious groups with access. The revised concordat regulated the conditions under which civil effects are accorded by Italy to church marriages and to ecclesiastical declarations of nullity of marriages. Abolished articles included those concerning state recognition of knighthoods and titles of nobility conferred by the Holy See, the undertaking by the Holy See to confer ecclesiastical honours on those authorized to perform religious functions at the request of the State or the Royal Household, and the obligation of the Holy See to enable the Italian government to present political objections to the proposed appointment of diocesan bishops.

In 2008, it was announced that the Vatican would no longer immediately adopt all Italian laws, citing conflict over right-to-life issues following the trial and ruling of the Eluana Englaro case.

Italy’s anti-Jewish laws of 1938 prohibited marriages between Jews and non-Jews, including Catholics. The Vatican viewed this as a violation of the Concordat, which gave the church the sole right to regulate marriages involving Catholics. Article 34 of the Concordat had also specified that marriages performed by the Catholic Church would always be considered valid by civil authorities. The Holy See understood this to apply to all Catholic Church marriages in Italy regardless of the faith of those being married.

14 February 1929

Seven people, six of them gangster rivals of Al Capone’s gang, are murdered in Chicago in what became know as the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Fourmen dressed as police officers enter gangster Bugs Moran’s headquarters on North Clark Street in Chicago, line seven of Moran’s henchmen against a wall, and shoot them to death. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, as it is now called, was the culmination of a gang war between arch rivals Al Capone and Bugs Moran.

George “Bugs” Moran was a career criminal who ran the North Side gang in Chicago during the bootlegging era of the 1920s. He fought bitterly with “Scarface” Al Capone for control of smuggling and trafficking operations in the Windy City. Throughout the 1920s, both survived several attempted murders. On one notorious occasion, Moran and his associates drovesix cars past a hotel in Cicero, Illionis, where Capone and his associates were having lunch and showered the building with more than 1,000 bullets.

A $50,000 bounty on Capone’s head was the final straw for the gangster. He ordered that Moran’s gang be destroyed. On February 14, a delivery of bootleg whiskey was expected at Moran’s headquarters. But Moran was late and happened to see police officers entering his establishment. Moran waited outside, thinking that his gunmen inside were being arrested in a raid. However, the disguised assassins were actually killing the seven men inside.

The murdered men included Moran’s best killers, Frank and Pete Gusenberg. Reportedly Frank was still alive when real officers appeared on the scene. When asked who had shot him, the mortally wounded Gusenberg kept his code of silence, responding, “No one, nobody shot me.”

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre actually proved to be the last confrontation for both Capone and Moran. Capone was jailed in 1931 and Moran lost so many important men that he could no longer control his territory. On the seventh anniversary of the massacre, Jack McGurn, one of the Valentine’s Day hit men,was killed him in a crowded bowling alley with a burst of machine-gun fire.

McGurn’s killer remains unidentified, but was likely Moran, though hewas never charged with the murder. Moran was relegated to small-time robberies until he was sent to jail in 1946. He died in Leavenworth Federal Prison in 1957 of lung cancer.

8 August 1929


The German airship Graf Zeppelin starts a round-the-world flight.

The growing popularity of the “giant of the air” made it easy for Zeppelin company chief Dr. Hugo Eckener to find sponsors for a “Round-the-World” flight. One of these was the American press tycoon William Randolph Hearst, who requested the tour to officially start at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, NJ. As with the October, 1928, flight to New York, Hearst had placed a reporter, Grace Marguerite Hay Drummond-Hay, on board, who thereby became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by air. The other passengers were also journalists, except one who paid for his ticket himself and two US naval officers.

On 8 August 1929, Graf Zeppelin flew back across the Atlantic to Friedrichshafen to refuel before continuing on 15 August across the vastness of Siberia to Tokyo , a nonstop leg of 6,988 miles, arriving three days later on 18 August. Dr. Eckener believed that some of the lands they crossed in Siberia had never before been seen by modern explorers.

After staying in Tokyo for five days, on 23 August, the Graf Zeppelin continued across the Pacific to California flying first over San Francisco before heading south to stop at Mines Field in Los Angeles for the first ever nonstop flight of any kind across the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific leg was 5,998 miles and took three days. The airship’s final leg across the United States took it over Chicago before landing back at Lakehurst NAS on 29 August, taking two days and covering 2,996 miles.

The flying time for the Lakehurst to Lakehurst legs was 12 days and 11 minutes. The entire voyage took 21 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes including the initial and final trips between Friedrichshafen and NAS Lakehurst during which time the airship travelled 49,618 km whereas the distance covered on the designated “Round the World” portion from Lakehurst to Lakehurst was 31,400 km.

7 June 1929

The Lateran Treaty is ratified, establishing the Vatican City.

Lateran Treaty, also called Lateran Pact of 1929, treaty between Italy and the Vatican. It was signed by Benito Mussolini for the Italian government and by cardinal secretary of state Pietro Gasparri for the papacy and confirmed by the Italian constitution of 1948.

Upon ratification of the Lateran Treaty, the papacy recognized the state of Italy, with Rome as its capital. Italy in return recognized papal sovereignty over the Vatican City, a minute territory of 44 hectares (109 acres), and secured full independence for the pope. A number of additional measures were agreed upon. Article 1, for example, gave the city of Rome a special character as the “centre of the Catholic world and place of pilgrimage.” Article 20 stated that all bishops were to take an oath of loyalty to the state and had to be Italian subjects speaking the Italian language.

By article 34 the state recognized the validity of Catholic marriage and its subjection to the provisions of canon law; nullity cases were therefore reserved to the ecclesiastical courts, and there could be no divorce.The state agreed by article 36 of the concordat to permit religious instruction in the public primary and secondary schools and conceded to the bishops the right to appoint or dismiss those who imparted such instruction and to approve the textbooks that they used.

With the signing of the concordat of 1985, Roman Catholicism was no longer the state religion of Italy. This change in status brought about a number of alterations in Italian society. Perhaps the most significant of these was the end to compulsory religious education in public schools. The new concordat also affected such diverse areas as tax exemptions for religious institutions and ownership of the Jewish catacombs.

31 January 1929

The Soviet Union send Leon Trotsky into exile.

Leon Trotsky is a communist theorist and agitator, a leader in Russia’s October Revolution in 1917, and later commissar of foreign affairs and of war in the Soviet Union. In the struggle for power following Vladimir Ilich Lenin’s death, however, Joseph Stalin emerged as victor, while Trotsky was removed from all positions of power and later exiled in 1929. He remained the leader of an anti-Stalinist opposition abroad until his assassination by a Stalinist agent.

In January 1928 Trotsky and his principal followers were exiled to remote parts of the Soviet Union, Trotsky himself being assigned to Alma-Ata in Central Asia. In January 1929 Trotsky was banished from the territory of the Soviet Union. He was initially received by the government of Turkey and domiciled on the island of Prinkipo. He plunged into literary activity there and completed his autobiography and his history of the Russian Revolution.