Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The WPA and Norfolk Botanical Gardens

(All photos by Brent McKee, 2016.)

Above: A historic marker at the entrance to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia. The marker explains how the Gardens began as a WPA project in 1938.

Above: As you drive into the Gardens, one of the first things you will see, to your right, is this statue, standing at the end of a large open field.

Above: The statue is called "Breaking Ground" and commemorates the African American workers (mostly women) who created this small bit of paradise for the public to enjoy.

Above: A few cobwebs need to be dusted away, but you can still see the sculptor's great attention to detail. Look closely at the life-like ear and facial features, and the texture of the shovel handle. As far as I know, this is the only large statue of a WPA worker in the United States. And it's incredible that there's only this one, given that there were 8.5 million WPA workers who built hundreds and thousands of roads, parks, airports, water mains, dams, etc., that we still use & enjoy today. To me, it seems kind of ungrateful to not commemorate their work more. But that's the way it is in America sometimes: here today, forgotten tomorrow.

Above: A closer look at the statue's information plaque.

Above: Near the statue is another information plaque, with a list of the known names of the 200 African American women (and 20 African American men - cheers to the men too!) who created the Garden.

Above: There is a walking trail around the lake at the WPA Garden. I'm envious of the people who live near the Garden; it's a great place to walk for exercise.

Above: The WPA Garden not only benefits people, but wildlife too. This little fella is catching some rays.

Above: The WPA section of Norfolk Botanical Gardens is known for its Azaleas. Unfortunately, they were not in bloom at the time I visited.

Above: This photo, from an information display at the Gardens, shows you the bright colors to expect when the Azaleas are in bloom.

Above: There are many information displays at the Gardens highlighting its WPA history. (I had to take photos of the displays at an angle because of the glare from the glossy surfaces.)

Above: A close-up of a photo on one of the information displays, showing some of the WPA workers in 1938.

Above: A surprise on the trail around the WPA Garden lake - a Redwood tree! I'm not sure if the WPA workers planted this.

Above: Sequoia sempervirens.

Above: A place to rest and enjoy some peace & tranquility at the WPA Garden. The WPA section of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens sits right next to an airport. For some, this might take away from the peace & tranquility. I actually found it kind of "neat," because it emphasizes the Garden's refuge from civilization & technology - a sort of oasis feeling (and airport sounds don't bother me that much anyway, so...).

Above: A colorful garden arrangement at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens' visitor center. I highly recommend visiting the Norfolk Botanical Garden, not just for the WPA section, but for the many other gardens and events they offer (see their website here).

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