Depression Bread Line depicts five men in shabby trench coats and hats standing in line in front of a brick wall and doorway. As was George Segal's custom, the figures in Depression Bread Line were cast from friends of the artist. The original work in plaster was used to produce a mold for bronze casting. The five individuals, hunched over in downcast isolation, await their rations of food, playing out an all-too-familiar scene from the Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s.
To individuals who lived through that time, Depression Bread Line is a painful reminder of that impoverished period. To younger individuals, the sculpture manifests a poignant and unforgettable history. It serves as a cautionary tale of the personal consequences of social hardship and economic ruin and conveys that theme through a street scene that is both heartbreakingly private and unsentimentally public.