Monday, November 7, 2016

The New Deal in DC: Municipal Building and Mural

(All photos, Brent McKee, November 4, 2016)

Above: Washington, D.C.'s Municipal Building, at 300 Indiana Ave., NW.

Above: An engraved stone on the Municipal Building, showing that it was built in 1940, that the architect was Nathan C. Wyeth, and that funding came from the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (or, Public Works Administration, "PWA").

Above: The Municipal Building has some classic Art Deco / Art Moderne features. What makes Art Deco and Art Moderne so interesting (in my opinion) is that it looks both ancient and "science fictiony" at the same time. You can also see that the building is called the Henry J. Daly building, named after a detective who was murdered inside the building by a homicide suspect with an assault weapon in 1994.

Above: A lamp post in front of the building. We don't make 'em like that anymore.

Above: A closer look at the eagle on top of the lamp post.

Above: A decoration above a door, perhaps a rising sun.

Above: In the inner courtyard of the Municipal Building, there is a great relief mural. According to art historian Dr. Thomas Folk, it was created by WPA artist Waylande Gregory: "Gregory's largest WPA relief mural was for Washington D.C.'s Police and Fire Departments titled: 'Democracy in Action' (1941). The mural depicts the actions of the Metropolitan Police Department and the District of Columbia Fire Department. The finished work measures approximately 81 feet long and eight feet high and is composed of 518 glazed, 14 inch, colored, terra cotta tiles... The largest relief tile depicts the most significant and controversial scene. It presents two policemen in a violent confrontation with two African American males."

  Above: This and the following images show the mural as it proceeds from left to right (the previous image is the left-most portion of the relief mural).

Above: DC firemen putting out a fire.

Above: The firemen save a child.

Above: Here is the controversial portion of the relief mural that Dr. Folk mentioned.

Above: The relief mural, as a whole, seems to show different treatment of DC residents by first responders. In the beginning, we see images of police and firemen serving the white community. As the mural goes on, it shows a more authoritarian behavior towards African Americans. If my interpretation is correct, and if we consider today's current issues, it shows how these sorts of controversies linger on, decade after decade after decade. (There is a little more of the relief mural, towards the right, but I couldn't get a good picture of it because a tree was in the way).

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