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Map Reveals the Hidden New Deal in the Nation’s Capital
Though few may realize it, the New Deal lives on in Washington DC. A Map and Guide to the Art and Architecture of the New Deal, published by the nonprofit Living New Deal, reveals the extent to which the nation’s capital was transformed during the Great Depression when the federal government hired millions of unemployed workers to modernize and beautify the country.
“They built the infrastructure that Americans still depend on to this day,” says author Gray Brechin, a founder of the Living New Deal, which documents the New Deal’s footprint in every state AND COUNTY. Brechin notes: “The New Deal’s work of building, renovating and modernizing Washington DC is largely unidentified as such, as in most of the country. It’s like finding a lost civilization that had been buried and forgotten.”
The Living New Deal’s map and guide to DC reveals the wealth of buildings, murals and public works created under New Deal work programs— some 500 sites in and around the District, including federal offices, libraries, parks, roads and more, with detailed descriptions and photos of the New Deal’s signature projects made possible by the PWA, WPA, CCC, CWA, FAP and other “alphabet soup” agencies of the FDR-era.
New Deal workers completed the Federal Triangle and Judiciary Square areas; renovated the National Mall; and erected the Jefferson Memorial, while restoring the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. They developed the city’s extensive park system, adding dozens of ball fields, playgrounds, pools and trails.
The New Deal also built DC’s first water treatment plant and miles of sewers to clean up the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. It built levees keep the Mall from flooding. It expanded schools and hospitals and built the city’s first public housing.
Based at UC Berkeley, the Living New Deal’s mission is to document the forgotten legacy of the New Deal and promote the New Deal as a model for good government today. Its website features an interactive map of more than 16,500 New Deal sites and describes the people and programs that shaped the New Deal. Livingnewdeal.org received more than a million visits last year.
Executive Director Richard Walker, Professor Emeritus of Geography at UC Berkeley, sees renewed interest in the New Deal arising from the economic crisis facing the new Administration and calls to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. “There’s a surge of policy proposals and media invoking the New Deal but these rarely acknowledge the spirit of public service that made it possible, the wide range of programs the New Deal encompassed or the enormous legacy of public works it left to the nation.”
“There’s no better time to illuminate what the New Deal did,” says Walker. “We want to introduce DC residents, elected officials and millions of visitors to the city to New Deal’s legacy around them that’s in plain sight —magnificent parks, clean water, and the art and architecture that make Washington a monumental city. We want to show them that the New Deal worked and continues to deliver today.”
Living New Deal’s Map and Guide to the New Deal in Washington DC is available for sale
at livingnewdeal.org, along with maps to the New Deal in San Francisco and New York City.
For more information on the New Deal in Washington DC, click here.
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