Unknown Photographer / The New York Times, July 8, 1947, Black market, Rome

“A symbol of Europe’s plight — A Roman black market in shoes,” was the original caption.

Postwar Europe, though boosted by the Marshall Plan, faced innumerable challenges in 1947. A lengthy piece by Raymond Aron assessed her situation through the prism of the black market: “Black market activities in Rome have become so widespread that they are now know as ‘free markets’. Although shoes are unrationed in Italy, the black market offers a large selection of army surplus and civilian shoes at a much lower price than those found in the stores.”