Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Geography of the WPA in the Nation's Capital

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(You can also right click on the image, save to your computer, and open an even larger version)
(Image from "Work: A Journal of Progress," by the District of Columbia Works Progress Administration, October 1936 edition.)

The image above details some of the work performed by WPA laborers in our nation's capital during the Great Depression. These projects included work at (or work on)...

...installing drains, Walter Reed Hospital beautification, building roads, repairing & grading highways, Takoma Recreation Center, Rock Creek Park Improvements, beautification of the U.S. Soldiers' Home, Banneker Recreation Center, D.C. Repair Shop, zoo improvements, sewers, school improvements, school lunch programs, parking lot construction, building a road for the National Training School for Girls, repairing buildings, park improvements, vocational training, music projects, public library projects, nursery schools, flood control, waterfront beautification, airport construction, mosquito control, Navy Yard improvements, sewing room projects, National Museum exhibits, filing records, building fences, hospital improvements, public pools, and more.

Some Republican and Tea Party politicians in our nation's capital would have us believe that the New Deal was a failure, a mistake. Further, they no doubt believe that WPA workers were probably lazy good-for-nothings, akin to the folks they call "takers" and "parasites" today.

Do you believe them? 

Or, do you believe Ronald Reagan (their icon) when he wrote in his autobiography, "The WPA was one of the most productive elements of FDR's alphabet soup of agencies because it put people to work building roads, bridges, and other projects...it gave men and women a chance to make some money along with the satisfaction of knowing they earned it."

(Today, Ronald Reagan's statue stands at National Airport in Washington, D.C. The airport is a large New Deal project and received plenty of WPA labor. Photo by Brent McKee.)

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