Documenting the New Deal

Evan Kalish at Pointe-a-La-Hache, Louisiana Post Office

Evan Kalish at Pointe-a-La-Hache, Louisiana Post Office
Volunteer Evan Kalish has documented over 6,000 Post Offices

Evan Kalish is not one to shy away from a challenge.  A Living New Deal volunteer, Evan, 27, has added 1,200 New Deal projects to the Living New Deal’s online database—“wherever I saw some gaps in the Living New Deal map,” he explains.

A native of Queens, New York, Evan has photographed nearly 6,000 post offices throughout the country, as well as more than five hundred New Deal projects—from post offices and New Deal artworks to school buildings, libraries, town halls, parks, courthouses, and any other project he can get a geographic fix on.

“My favorite New Deal projects are post offices constructed with funds from the U.S. Treasury because they embody the government’s commitment to serving communities all across the country through public buildings that were built to last.”

New Deal murals adorn city offices

Reidsville City Hall Finance Office
New Deal murals adorn city offices
Photo Credit: Evan Kalish

Evan began documenting U.S. Post Offices in 2008 describing the history, architecture, artwork, and what the buildings reveal about the places they serve in his blog, http://colossus-of-roads.blogspot.com.  He began sharing his extensive knowledge and photographs to the Living New Deal’s website in 2012 and became New York Regional Research Director earlier this year.

“What’s great about the Living New Deal is that the website enables not only researchers like me, but anyone with information about the New Deal to preserve and share it with the world.”

Evan spent much of last summer at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, researching New Deal documents and photos from the Treasury Department, Public Works Administration (PWA), and the Work Projects Administration (WPA). His sleuthing uncovered many New Deal edifices—some now demolished or repurposed—including water towers in Texas, former schools in Wyoming, railroad overpasses in upstate New York, and WPA park walls in Hawaii—to name a few.  Oftentimes locating the projects involved looking at archival satellite views, aerial photographs, and Google Maps Street View imagery.

“The New Deal represents an important and underappreciated era in our history,” says Evan. “Every day I get to learn something new.”