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Happy Days are Here Again

On November 11, 2023 more than a hundred guests and elected officials attended the New Deal 90th Anniversary celebration at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.  Historian and political commentator Dr. Heather Cox Richardson was the keynoter who, along with Judge Charles Breyer, LND’s founder Gray Brechin and the San Francisco author Gary Kamiya recalled the significance of the New Deal and why it still matters today.  Aaron Peskin, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, presented a Proclamation to the Living New Deal on behalf of the City. 

Built by the WPA, the Maritime museum is a San Francisco Landmark. Originally constructed as the Aquatic Park Bathhouse, the Streamline Moderne building attracted tens of thousands of San Franciscans when building, dubbed the “Palace for the People,”  opened 1939. 

The building showcases artworks commissioned by the Federal Art Project. Hilaire Hiler, the project’s art director, painted fantastical murals of sea creature on the lobby walls. Sargent Claude Johnson, a local African American artist, carved the green slate on the building’s facade and installed huge tile mosaics on the veranda overlooking San Francisco Bay. Sculptor Bennie Bufano added fanciful statues of sea animals carved from granite and marble. Today the restored building and its artworks are the centerpiece of a national park dedicated to the city’s maritime history and the perfect venue in which to celebrate the New Deal’s legacy.

Our thanks to our partners in the event—

 the San Francisco Maritime Historical National Park Association, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the National Park Service staff, which provided hourly tours of the building’s architecture and artworks throughout the day, making it indeed a “Happy Day.”

Click for full event program

Learn more about the Maritime Museum’s New Deal past by visiting our site pages covering the artwork, the Aquatic Bathhouse, and Aquatic Park.

This first video of three contains introductory remarks by Living New Deal director Richard A Walker and Judge Charles Breyer. Aaron Peskin, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, presents a Proclamation to the Living New Deal on behalf of the City.

This second of three videos contains remarks from San Francisco Superintendent Paul DePrey and Living New Deal Founder and Project Scholar Gray Brechin, and historian Gary Kamiya’s talk “Aquatic Park and the Bathhouse: Crown Jewels of the New Deal.”

This third video of three contains remarks by Susan Ives and a talk by Heather Cox Richardson, “Democracy Awakening: Why the New Deal Matters.”

Living New Deal. Still Working.