Saturday, September 28, 2013

125,000 Public Building Projects, Courtesy of the WPA

(A WPA-built community building in Manteo, North Carolina. Photo by Brent McKee.)

Across the country, the WPA completed over 125,000 public building projects. This number includes nearly 40,000 new, or added-to, buildings. Other building projects included painting, new roofs, and various repairs. 

Buildings constructed (or improved) included town halls, hospitals, schools, firehouses, libraries, armories, recreation centers, gymnasiums, and more.

(Another view of the Manteo community building. Photo by Brent McKee.)

   (A WPA-built town hall in Williamsport, Maryland. Photo by Brent McKee.)

"Never before in the history of the human race has a public works program, whose principal object was the mitigation of need due to unemployment, reached the magnitude of the Work Projects Administration. This is true, however you measure it--by persons employed, money expended, or volume of results."

--Joanna C. Colcord, Director of the Charity Organization Department of the Russell Sage Foundation, 1943, in the book "The WPA and Federal Relief Policy" by Donald S. Howard.

(WPA-built Gillham High School in Arkansas. Image courtesy of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.) 

(The WPA-built McKissick Museum (originally a library), in South Carolina. Image courtesy of the University of South Carolina.)

"The things they have actually accomplished all over America should be an inspiration to every reasonable person and an everlasting answer to all the grievous insults that have been heaped on the heads of the unemployed."

--Harry Hopkins, head of the WPA, 1936, in the book "American-Made" by Nick Taylor.   

(WPA poster "announcing training opportunities in the building trades." Image and description from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

(The WPA even got children involved in constructing buildings!.....through various art programs, and the exhibition of their art in museums. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.) 

***Building statistics from the Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, by the Federal Works Agency. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946***

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