Living New Deal in the News

The New Deal Lives On In Sonoma County

Polishing a plaque on a Santa Rosa Junior College building

Polishing a plaque on a Santa Rosa Junior College building.

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.

Revisiting The LND’s Origins

Workers with Mastodon“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!

Praise from the Austin American-Statesman

Carothers Dormitory at the University of Texas at Austin: One of many New Deal projects in that city.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.”

By Ken Herman | Austin American-Statesman | Friday, May 13, 2016

The New Deal Lives on “Economic Update”

Gray Brechin and Richard A 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 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.

Walker & Brechin in studio with Rick Wolff

Walker & Brechin in studio with Rick Wolff

San Francisco Chronicle Salute to the Living New Deal

Popular Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik gave a nice shout-out to Gray Brechin for being honored by the California Book Club and called attention to the Living New Deal’s just-issued New Deal map of San Francisco.  Here’s what she said, in full:

Gray Brechin, who on March 30 will receive the California Book Club’s Oscar Lewis Award for contributions to Western history, will have on hand copies of the spiffy new San Francisco Guide to Art and Architecture of the New Deal, a brochure that identifies New Deal projects around the city. This is a project of the UC Berkeley Department of Geography, which hopes to create similar brochures for other cities about the country. There are more than 300 New Deal projects in the Bay Area, including 11 in Golden Gate Park. More information is at

Thanks to Leah for the recognition, even if she got a couple things a tiny bit wrong: the 300+ New Deal sites are just in the city of San Francisco alone and the SF map is a project of our non-profit in Berkeley.  The original column can be found in the March 18th edition of the San Francisco Chronicle on page E8 (the back page of the Datebook section).


Public Works Site Recognizes the Living New Deal

The Living New Deal and National New Deal Preservation Association received a nice tip of the hat from a trade journal called Government Product News, a magazine serving some 20,000 local government officials around the country.  They contacted LND’s Harvey Smith for some examples of WPA buildings and then posted this paean to public works produced by the Works Progress Administration.  Editor Michael Keating of GPN reports a strong response from the readers of the website and their newsletter.  Thank you, Mr. Keating!

Page view from Government Product News

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 2.40.38 PM
Page view from Government Product News

When America Invested in Infrastructure: Smithsonian Magazine

Mt. Hood National Park

Timberline Lodge, 2014
Mt. Hood National Park
Photo Credit: Gary Braasch © Gary Braasch/CORBIS

The Smithsonian Magazine recently ran a fine article on the legacy of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) by writer Andrea Stone, When America Invested in Infrastructure, These Beautiful Landmarks Were the Result.  The article features wonderful photographs and brief essays about eight famous New Deal structures, such as the Mt. Hood Timberline Lodge (OR) and Red Rock Amphitheater (CO).  It quotes Bob Leighninger, author of Long-range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal and Living New Deal Research Board member and has links to our website at the Living New Deal.

Now, if we could just get the Smithsonian Institution to create a New Deal History pavilion, our dreams would be fulfilled!

Living New Deal Makes the Boston Globe

Ross Moffett 1937 mural in former Union Square Post Office in Somerville, Mass.

Mural in former Somerville MA Post Office, 2014
Ross Moffett 1937 mural in former Union Square Post Office in Somerville, Mass.  Source

We were very pleased that the Living New Deal was acknowledged in a wonderful opinion piece in the Boston Globe on the day after Thanksgiving.  In an editorial entitled, “When public buildings were revered”, writer René Loth captures the spirit of the New Deal in asking why Americans no longer value public places as they once did and deplores the privatization of the New Deal legacy.  “We have traveled a long way from a time when public buildings were revered precisely because they belonged to everyone.”

We particularly liked this observation:

“Sturdily made, architecturally significant, the New Deal’s public buildings project a sense of authority and even grandeur, but with the clean, stripped-down lines of the Art Deco style. Even simple cabins in state parks creatively used natural materials to blend in with their settings. They are artifacts of a time when government institutions — schools, courthouses, even waterworks — commanded a certain respect, and the quality of design and craftsmanship reflected that.”

And we appreciate that the article included the url of the Living New Deal website.

To download the article as a pdf, click here.

Harvey Smith’s Berkeley and the New Deal


Harvey Smith speaking in Berkeley, 2014
Harvey Smith speaking in Berkeley  Source
Photo Credit: Judith Scherr

Harvey Smith’s new book, Berkeley and the New Deal (Arcadia Press, 2014) got a nice story in the Contra Costa Times, a suburban paper in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Part of Arcadia’s “Images of America” series,  this book is a substantial piece of scholarship by Smith, not just a collection of historic photographs and incidental commentary like so many other Arcadia contributions.  It makes for fascinating reading.

The Living New Deal Hits the Blogs

Word about the Living New Deal is getting around in the blog-o-sphere these days, we’re happy to report (especially  A recent entry is from MetaFilter Community Weblog, an open forum type of blog with millions of followers.

We particularly appreciated the first comment posted there:

“All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what has the New Deal ever done for us?…. Seriously though, this kind of thing makes me love the internet.”

New Deal Maps

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.