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Photos From the 1940s: Down and Out in Chicago

Updated on August 4, 2013

Chicago's Skid Row in the 1940s

Beginning in the late 1930s, the Farm Security Administration, part of the New Deal, sent photographers out into the field to document the effects of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The program became a launching pad for notable photographers like Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Jack Delano, John Vachon, and Gordon Parks. These photos also became an amazing record in the public domain of socio-economic conditions in America at the time. The Library of Congress preserves and maintains a collection of more than 165,000 photographs collected as a result of this program.

South State Street Skid Row, July 1941.  Photo by John Vachon.
South State Street Skid Row, July 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
South State Street Skid Row, July 1941.  Photo by John Vachon.
South State Street Skid Row, July 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
South State Street Skid Row, July 1941.  Photo by John Vachon.
South State Street Skid Row, July 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
South State Street Skid Row, July 1941.  Photo by John Vachon.
South State Street Skid Row, July 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
South State Street Skid Row, July 1941.  Photo by John Vachon.
South State Street Skid Row, July 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
South State Street Skid Row, July 1941.  Photo by John Vachon.
South State Street Skid Row, July 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
"What, No Garters?"  Chicago, 1946. Photo by Walker Evans.
"What, No Garters?" Chicago, 1946. Photo by Walker Evans. | Source
"Souls in Pawn"  Chicago, 1946. Photo by Walker Evans.
"Souls in Pawn" Chicago, 1946. Photo by Walker Evans. | Source
Newsboy selling the Chicago Defender, April 1942. Photo by Jack Delano.
Newsboy selling the Chicago Defender, April 1942. Photo by Jack Delano. | Source
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon.
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon.
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon.
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon.
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon.
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon.
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon.
July, 1941. Photo by John Vachon. | Source

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  • FatBoyThin profile image

    Colin Garrow 23 months ago from Kinneff, Scotland

    Very striking photo's from what must have been a very difficult period in American history. Thanks for sharing.

  • KevinC9998 profile image

    KevinC9998 4 years ago

    Very nice. I always enjoy looking at old photos from another generation. Voted up, awesome and interesting! Kevin

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