“Scanning the horizon of New York and beyond, New Deal sites number in the hundreds of thousands, most of them still in use today and almost none of them marked. There is the equivalent of a Lost Civilization out there waiting to be discovered. No one had ever documented everything the New Deal built or improved, until the Living New Deal was founded a decade ago to uncover the hundreds of thousands of public works across the country and map them, so that all Americans could see for themselves what was accomplished by their grandparents.” Read Richard Walker’s entire Brooklyn Rail essay about how “The New Deal Lives On in the City” and our new pocket map honoring this legacy.
“The New Deal embodied an approach whose starting point was to make attacking poverty – not the people who live in it – a first principle. This makes it especially salient today… The writer and scholar Gray Brechin, a driving force behind the Living New Deal project, argues that at a time when Republicans in America and Tories in Britain behave as if there were no alternative to shrinking welfare states, and when ‘the dominant meme is that government just wastes money’, it is important that this ideology is exposed for the fiction that it is.” Read Mary O’Hara’s article, examining “lunch-shaming,” the “deeply flawed narrative that we can’t afford” the poor, and The Living New Deal’s attempt to commemorate a different vision of society.
Nice press from the Cumberland Times-News, in anticipation of Research Associate Brent McKee’s talk at the Washington Street Library in Cumberland, Maryland. If you’re in the area on Feb. 6, come hear “Discover the Hidden History Around You.” For more information, contact Joni Reed at [email protected]
“‘It’s all falling into ruin now because we decided we didn’t have to maintain it,’ says Gray Brechin, geographer and founder of the online archive The Living New Deal, ‘Thank god, they built it all as well as they did.'” Popular Mechanics examines how the New Deal shaped our nation and compares it to President Trump’s promises.
“‘You’ve got to think in terms of long-range investment and realize that these things are paying us back in lots of different ways,’ says Robert Leighninger, author of Long-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal. ‘Education, health, and recreation—all the stuff whose value is hard to calculate is important to our national well-being.'” Another shout-out to The Living New Deal and its team from Curbed, assessing the legacy of New Deal infrastructural projects in today’s political climate.
“‘It was really a quantum leap forward for the entire United States,’ says Gray Brechin, an author who helps run the Living New Deal. ‘By building this vast physical and cultural infrastructure, the New Deal brought the country into the mid 20th century.'” With the help of The Living New Deal, Curbed, a website devoted to the built environment, lists its top ten New Deal architectural sites.
On Thursday, Dec. 22, at 1 pm EST, Gray Brechin will be featured on Pat Thurston’s long-running show on KGO-FM. Tune in to hear Gray discuss The Living New Deal and the Bay Area’s New Deal legacy.
Gaye Lebaron of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat offered a timely meditation on the New Deal’s lasting importance for Sonoma County, following on a talk by the Living New Deal’s Gray Brechin. She wrote: “‘People think the Great Depression happened in black and white,’ Gray Brechin told us in a talk last month at the Sonoma County Library, adding that he often feels like his project is uncovering a lost civilization…. The Living New Deal’s Dr. Brechin would tell you that there are valuable lessons in these stories for those seeking to understand the past — and for those who worry about the nation’s present and future.” Read more.
“Among the many WPA initiatives I discovered in my early research were archaeological digs and historical re-creations, and they gave me the idea for an analogous effort: to create an ever-expanding excavation to reveal a buried and lost civilization. This was not, however, a civilization engulfed by the jungles of Guatemala or the sands of Egypt. It was our own history and a monument to an era a mere eighty years old but almost entirely forgotten by what Gore Vidal called the ‘United States of Amnesia.’”… Gray Brechin’s “Uncovering the New Deal’s Hidden History,” detailing the origins and development of The Living New Deal, has been reprinted in the newsletter of the Blue Mountain Center, an Upstate New York-based, nonprofit community space for writers, artists, and activists. (It initially appeared as “A New Deal for California: Finding a Hidden History in Plain Sight” for BOOM: A Journal of California. ). Check it out and look back on our salad days!
The Living New Deal recently made news for its participation in “A Century of Design in the Parks,” a symposium marking the centennial of the National Park Service, which was held in Santa Fe from June 21-23. In an article entitled, “In New Mexico, New Deal legacy gets a second look,” the Associated Press makes a case for our project’s importance and even interviews our Communications Director, Susan Ives!
Ken Herman’s “Old stuff from the New Deal” (Austin American-Statesman, Friday, May 13, 2016) makes a case for The Living New Deal’s relevance to communities around the country. (Larry Moore, our Texas-based Research Associate, also gets some well-deserved recognition in this opinion piece.) Herman draws from our site to showcase the New Deal’s legacy in Austin–“highways and bridges and parks and buildings and lots of stuff still in use in Austin, ranging from the mundane to the majestic.” Some (from bridges to parks to university dorms) continue to serve their original purpose. Others still stand, but have been repurposed—including the US Post Office in somewhat-nearby Lampasas, built in 1938 and converted into a single-family home in 2010. (The fates of most New Deal post offices remain uncertain throughout the country. And if they’re closed down, they typically see less cheery fates than the one in Lampasas.) It is a testament to the quality and craftsmanship that went into New Deal construction that its physical presence remains, integrated into our communities “to the point of taking it for granted.”
Gray Brechin and Richard Walker discussed the legacy of the New Deal as guests on Richard Wolff’s weekly radio program “Economic Update”, broadcast from New York to hundreds of stations around the country on June 1st. The half-hour interview, “The New Deal Lives”, can be found through Truthout.org or Democracy at Work. Richard Wolff is a well-known economics professor and a popular and provocative commentator on economic news and current politics in the United States.
Project founder Gray Brechin has published an account of the origins and development of the Living New Deal in the oddly-name but much-read magazine BOOM: A Journal of California. The article, “A New Deal for California: Finding a Hidden History in Plain Sight”, appeared in the Winter 2014 issue. A pdf version can be downloaded here. Brechin – A New Deal for California-BOOM.