The Panic of 1873 or Depression of 1873 marked a severe international economic depression in Europe and United States that lasted until 1879, and even longer in some countries. It began with financial failures in Vienna that spread to most of Europe and overextended American banking in late 1873.
The signal event in America was the failure of Jay Cooke and Company, the country’s preeminent investment banking concern. The firm was the principal backer of the Northern Pacific Railroad and had handled most of the government’s wartime loans. Cooke’s fall touched off a series of events that encompassed the entire nation. The New York Stock Exchange was closed for 10 days. Credit dried up, foreclosures were common and banks failed. Factories closed their doors, costing thousands of workers' jobs.
In Britain, the result was two decades of stagnation known as the "Long Depression", during which Britain lost its world economic leadership. In U.S. literature this global event is usually known as "Panic of 1873", while in Europe it is known as Long Depression or Great Depression.