The Living New Deal is recording the public works built under the New Deal across the entire United States and its territories. The inventory is made visible through a Google Map, a Google Fusion Table, lists by state and city, and individual State Pages. Since 2012, the database and map have been expanding by leaps and bounds, doubling from 2,500 sites in late 2012 to 5,000 sites by mid-2013, then hitting 7,500 sites by late 2014, 10,000 in mid-2015 and 11,000 in early 2016. At the same time, the Living New Deal website doubled its traffic (as tracked by Google) to over 250,000 per year by mid-2013 and doubled that again in 2014, and is running close to half a million per year in 2016.
In our earliest days as a group of Berkeley volunteers, we began mapping New Deal San Francisco. Here’s how it started out way back in 2006:
Within a couple of years we had begun to be a real organization and had extended our work across the state as The California Living New Deal project, shown here c. 2008:
As we approached 1,000 sites in California, we decided to go national, a huge step forward. The map began to push eastward, but most of the country was still wide open spaces as seen in this view from 2011.
As we continued to gather data, the map had filled in enough to look respectable, if spotty, as shown here in November 2012.
In summer 2013 we merged the New Deal Art Registry into our database and the map began to look seriously freckled, as shown here in July 2013.
By the end of 2013 we had mapped 5,000 New Deal public works sites and started to focus on filling in the ‘blank spots’, so that by April 2014, the map looked like this. But the ball was really rolling now…
By August 2014 our map had passed 6,500 sites and began to look like a solid mass of dots across the country – plus sites in Hawaii, Alaska and the Canal Zone, not shown here:
By November 2014 we passed 8,000 New Deal project sites and the map was getting so packed that it has to be viewed at a higher zoom/resolution:
By July 2015, we reached the 10,000 mark, a significant step in our progress. In addition, we had gone over 100 sites in 40 states.
In April 2016, we vaulted over the 11,000 mark in sites mapped.
By January 1, 2017, our total passed 12,000.
It’s getting hard to see any open spaces east of the 100th meridian at this level of resolution, so here it is again at higher res:
The above maps of the Lower 48 miss all the outlying sites we’ve found in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Canal Zone, which can only be seen by pulling back:
In mid-2018, we reached the 15,000 mark, a fifty percent gain over the previous three years. By the end of 2019, we hit 16,000 sites on the map.
Through the epidemic of 2020, progress on the map slowed down, not least because we suffered amajor hack of our host web server that deleted over 3000 photographs which had to be tracked down and reentered – a very time consuming activity.
In 2019-20, we switched from Google Maps to MapBox, an open-source mapping platform that had several advantages over Google, such as not showing commercial sites and support for the database. It took several months to get all the kinks out, but we think the result looks better and is easier to maintain and to use.
Here is the new version from May 2021, with 16,500+ sites, all color-coded and with icons indicating types of New Deal public works. It has a finer grain than the old map.
Check out the current map here.
The Living New Deal database continues to grow, as our national network of over 40 Research Associates send in new site data every week – so many, that our Research Assistants in Berkeley are always scrambling to keep up with the backlog!
We are building a national network of associates in every state to contribute site data, publicize the wealth of public works left by the New Deal, and contribute to efforts at preservation of historic sites and artworks. If you would like to help us out, please Get Involved. To complete our work, we also need financial help from everyone who cares about preserving the New Deal legacy. Contact us if you or someone you know is interested in supporting the project, or make a donation here.
Check out our latest map and guide to the work of the New Deal in Washington, D.C. It includes 500 New Deal sites in the District alone, highlighting 34 notable sites, and includes an inset map of the area around the National Mall which can be used for self-guided walking tours.
Take a look at our previous guides, equally comprehensive, covering key New Deal sites in San Francisco and New York City.