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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Posts Tagged ‘federal relief agencies’

“American-Made”: A WPA History for Our Time
(“Yes We Can” Do It Again)

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

“All work undertaken should be useful—not just for a day, or a year, but useful in the sense that it affords permanent improvement in living conditions or that it creates future new wealth for the Nation.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt, second state of the union address (1935)

“You can start out from Baton Rouge in any direction and pass through town after town which has water facilities or sewer facilities or roads or streets or sidewalks or better public buildings, which it would had not have had but for the Works Progress Administration.”

—WPA administrator Harry L. Hopkins, dedication of addition to Tiger Stadium, LSU, Nov. 28, 1936 (in Taylor, American-Made)

LNW_American-Made.2Levees Not War has been recommending a Civilian Conservation Corps for Louisiana coastal restoration for some time now, and here is more encouragement in that direction.

From his first days in office, Franklin Roosevelt worked to establish relief programs to ease the pain of 25% unemployment nationwide, with some 15 million men, or 60 million Americans, having no income whatsoever. But it was not until his third year in office that Roosevelt launched the Works Progress Administration, the famous jobs and public works program that is one of the hallmarks of the New Deal. Other public assistance and jobs programs had come before—FDR’s beloved CCC was created in his first month—but the WPA took relief to a whole new level: practical, rewarding, enduring.

Yesterday we went to the 92nd Street Y–Tribeca to hear Nick Taylor speak about his book American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work (2008). Mr. Taylor began research for the book in 2001, and its publication could hardly be more timely: lucky for the book’s sales and for American readers. American-Made is an engaging account of the Roosevelt administration’s Works Progress Administration (1935–1943), the nationwide jobs and public works program that put 8.5 million Americans back to work (enrollment peaked at about 3.3 million in 1938) in building roads and bridges, tunnels and airports, producing plays and painting murals, serving millions of hot lunches, sewing clothes and repairing toys, and many more useful and entertaining works.

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