So whether you're into building on ruins, counter-cyclical start-ups, or just doing it because everyone says you can't, here are some examples of bust-era creativity to help inspire you during the dark days ahead. Across the way, read creatives' thoughts on opportunities to be mined on the tough road ahead and see how Argentine creatives dealt with their crisis a decade ago.
1871: The Chicago Fire turns the Windy City to cinder, but creates a demand for high-rise, steel-construction towers, leading to the advent of the modern skyscraper.
1935: The country reels from the Great Depression, but the Federal Art Project funds the work of many important artists, including Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning.
1938: At the tail end of the Depression, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard begin work in their storied garage near Palo Alto, launching what will become a global electronics brand. The same year, Chester Carlson, a patent attorney, makes the first photocopy in a makeshift lab in Queens, laying the foundation for Xerox.
1946: After spending the war years experimenting with cheap materials, Charles and Ray Eames introduce the Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair, often considered the most distinctive furniture design of the century.
1970: As oil prices quadruple, Federal Express begins offering gas-guzzling service to 25 cities.
1981: The Reagan Recession leaves Americans wanting jobs and their MTV, which launches on August 1.
1982: In year two of the recession, the Advanced Mobile Phone Service?a subsidiary of AT&T?is licensed by the FCC. The following year, Illinois Bell launches the first commercial cell phone service.
1988: A year after Black Monday?the largest one-day percentage drop in the Dow?Nike and Wieden + Kennedy introduce the tagline "Just Do It."
Illustrations by Dieter Braun