The New Deal in the News

There’s a resurgence of interest in the New Deal. The New Deal, those that played a role in it and its relevance today are the subject of news and opinion across the media spectrum. A selection of recent articles reflecting the New Deal’s reemergence as a touchstone for our times, appears below. 

FDR’s Legacy: 5 New Deal Infrastructure Projects in NYC
New York City’s public infrastructure can be taken for granted if the history of the city is not often revisited. Many important infrastructure projects in New York City, such as the Lincoln Tunnel, La Guardia Airport, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, Flushing Meadows Park, and the restoration of Bryant Park, are the legacy of the New Deal (1933-1939).
By Julio Yarce
Untapped Cities, April 20, 2021

The Black Woman Artist Who Crafted a Life She Was Told She Couldn’t Have
Augusta Savage fought racism to earn acclaim as a sculptor. In 1937, she worked with the W.P.A. Federal Art Project to establish the Harlem Community Art Center and became its first director. Eleanor Roosevelt attended its inauguration.
By Concepción de León
The New York Times, March 30, 2021

What Biden and FDR May End Up Having In Common
President Biden promised to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen”
He may find the key to success is to tacitly reach back to the New Deal. Even then, the country can expect some tensions and letdowns.
By Steven Greenhouse
The New York Times, March 15, 2021

Listen: Behind the Former Slave Narratives Captured by a New Deal Program (7 minutes)
Through the Federal Writers’ Program we have the stories of enslaved people in their own words.
NPR, All Things Considered
February 17, 2021

The New Deal Put Huge Numbers of Unemployed Artists to Work
New Deal job programs didn’t just absorb unemployment but allowed thousands of artists and writers to work on ambitious creative projects. Works Progress Administration funding allowed a golden age in US culture — but drew vicious anti-communist attacks, offering a foretaste of McCarthyism.
By Ellen Engelstad
Jacobin, February 10, 2021

The New Deal’s Capitalist Lessons for Joe Biden
The most effective part of FDR’s programs wasn’t its direct spending. It was his use of  US financial might to reignite business.
By Louis Hyman
The New York Times, February 10, 2021

Biden’s Civilian Climate Corps comes straight out of the New Deal
President Biden recently signed an executive order to create a Civilian Climate Corps. The initiative, he wrote, will provide “good jobs” for young people and train them for environmentally friendly careers, putting them to work restoring public lands and waters, planting trees, improving access to parks, and of course, tackling climate change.
By Kate Yoder 
Grist, February 8, 2021

Photos show how Biden replaced Trump’s Oval Office decorations with symbols of American icons
Gone is the portrait of populist President Andrew Jackson that Trump so admired, replaced by a grand portrait of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the man who once guided the country out of troubled times — a task that President Biden now faces.
by Erin Snodgrass
Insider, January 21, 2021

When Biden Becomes…Rooseveltian
Using a crisis to reduce child poverty and make America more truly a land of opportunity.
“Mr. President, if your program succeeds, you’ll be the greatest president in American history,” the visitor told FDR. “If it fails, you will be the worst one.” “If it fails,” Roosevelt responded, “I’ll be the last one.”
By Nicholas Kristof
The New York Times, January 16, 2021

The Arts Are in Crises: Here’s How Biden Can Help
A critic offers an ambitious plan.
By Jason Farago
The New York Times, January 13, 2021

The Next New Deal Must be for Black Americans, too
Democratic leaders including President-elect Joe Biden often harken back to the New Deal. But for Black Americans, the New Deal left an ambivalent legacy.
By Willow Lung-Amam
Bloomberg, January 18, 2021

Theaters Seek a New Deal
Theatermakers want a modern-day version of the Great Depression’s Federal Theatre Project.
By Soraya Nadia McDonald
The Undefeated, December 30, 2020

UCSF makes an about-face to save New Deal-era murals from destruction
In a surprise reversal, UCSF announced it will save and store artist Bernard Zakheim’s famous series of murals in medical school building slated for demolition.
By Sam Whiting
San Francisco Chronicle, December 21, 2020

Enduring lessons of a New Deal writers’ project 
At its peak, the WPA’s Federal Writers’ Project employed more than six thousand people. Some of its hires—Zora Neale Hurston, John Cheever, Richard Wright, Saul Bellow, and Studs Terkel, among others—were celebrated, or would become so, but most qualified by dint of their economic circumstances. The result was an eclectic staff—as Time magazine put it, of “unemployed newspapermen, poets, graduates of schools of journalism who had never had jobs, authors of unpublished novels, high-school teachers, people who had always wanted to write.” 
By Jon Allsop
Columbia Journalism Review, December 22, 2020

FDR: The real modern populist
FDR showed that populism per se is not wrong. What matters is how and for whom it is deployed as a political strategy.
By Richard Heydarian
Inquirer.net, December 1, 2020

Black party allegiance, southern strategy traced to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
Until the 1930s, Black civil rights were not a high priority for the Democratic Party. Eleanor Roosevelt changed both progressive priorities and Black political allegiances by using the power of the White House for advocacy, hastening powerful changes.
By Robert Wack
Baltimore Sun, December 1, 2020

A historian on the perils of chaotic White House transitions
An interview with Living New Deal advisor Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California Davis and the author of Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal about the key lessons from Herbert Hoover’s disastrous transfer of power to FDR in 1933.
By Sean Illing
Vox, November 24, 2020

Biden Becomes First Presidential Candidate To Receive 80 Million Votes
Biden is the first presidential challenger to capture more than 50% of the popular vote while running against an incumbent since Franklin Delano Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover in 1932. “It’s just a lot of noise going on because Donald Trump is a bull who carries his own china shop with him,” Douglas Brinkley, says presidential historian at Rice University. “Once the noise recedes, it’s going to be clear that Biden won a very convincing victory.”
By Tommy Beer
Forbes, November 24, 2020

No modern presidential candidate has refused to concede. Here’s why that matters.
The formal concession speech has played a vital role in even the most divisive U.S. elections, from the Civil War to Bush v. Gore. 
By Amy McKeever
National Geographic.com, November 8, 2020

Biden’s defeat of Trump is the most important win since FDR
Biden is the first challenger to beat an incumbent president in a true two-person race in nearly a century—since Franklin Roosevelt beat Herbert Hoover in 1932.
By Paul Bledsoe
The Hill, November 7, 2020

How President-elect Joe Biden will govern—if he can govern at all
The son of Scranton, Pa., predicted, again and again, that the pandemic would be for him what the Great Depression was to Roosevelt: the challenge that supersized his presidency.
By Andrew Romano and Alexander Nazaryan
Yahoo News, November 7, 2020

“Moderate” Joe Biden has become the most progressive nominee in history
 Biden is no FDR, you say? Well, FDR wasn’t FDR—he had run as a moderate before  the Depression and war demanded massive responses.
By Dana Milbank
The Washington Post, Oct. 27, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Revives Talk of Court Packing
The idea, recalling a plan by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is increasingly popular among progressives, but faces roadblocks among members of both parties.
By Astead W. Herndon and Maggie Astor
The New York Times, September 19, 2020

Meet the National Parks’ ‘Ranger of the Lost Art’
Doug Leen has made it his life’s work to discover, restore and reproduce WPA-era posters of America’s parks.
By Erin Berger
New York Times, Aug. 25, 2020

A Green New Deal Needs a 21st-Century Civilian Conservation Corps
The health and economic crisis has amplified the discussion of what jobs, especially “green” jobs, might look like. Almost every proposal harkens back to the New Deal.  A bill introduced by Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), the “21st Century Conservation Corps for Our Health and Our Jobs Act,” has a hundred cosponsors.
By Paul J. Baicich
Jacobin, August 11, 2020

The Future of American Liberalism
We’re not going to have another Roosevelt. But in a time of crisis, in an ideological age, he showed it’s possible to get a lot done if you turn down the ideological temperature, if you evade the culture war, if you are willing to be positive and openly experimental.
By David Brooks
The New York Times, July 31, 2020

The Republican Narrative—No New Deal in Sight
If the end of the New Deal state is going to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity, it should be now.
By Heather Cox Richardson 
Moyers on Democracy, July 27, 2020

Joe Biden Is Campaigning on the Green New Deal, Minus the Crazy
In substance and spirit, the Democratic nominee has signed on to the concept’s most important pieces, while doing away with some of its more controversial, and less essential, trappings.
By Jordan Weissman
SALON, July 15, 2020

In the Face of Mass Unemployment, We Need a 21st Century WPA
The central reasons for a 21st century WPA are the material improvements it would bring to the lives of workers and their communities. But we should not undervalue the long-term importance of a project like this. As historian Eric Foner has argued, the New Deal brought about a new definition of social citizenship, whereby “freedom” was now understood to include economic security for every citizen.
By Max Page
Labor Notes, July 9, 2020

Students’ Calls to Remove a Mural Were Answered. Now Comes a Lawsuit.
As many predominantly white institutions are being forced to answer for their history of racism, the University of Kentucky announced it would remove a 1934 fresco depicting slavery. Author Wendell Berry, a native son and alumnus, is suing to stop them.
By Julia Jacobs
The New York Times, July 6, 2020

If You Like Laughing, Thank FDR and the New Deal
An incredible amount of the development of American comedy can be traced directly back to the 1930s, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal provided government support for the arts at a level never to be repeated.
By Bob Harris and Jon Schwarz
The Intercept, July 4, 2020

The Lessons for Today from FDR’s New Deal
We should be suspicious of modern-day politicians who lay claim to FDR’s mantle. Roosevelt’s presidency transformed American democracy — his civil service reforms and the force of his personality created what we think of as the job of the president. None of his successors as US president have been able to fill his shoes or come close to achieving what he did.
The Editorial Board
Financial Times, July 3, 2020

Civilian Conservation Corps Bill Unveiled
The aggressive climate action plan includes the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH) that would reestablish the historic Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
House Committee on Climate Crisis, June 30, 2020

Roosevelt’s New Deal offered hope in desperate times. We can do the same now.
His nation-building work programs are an unsurpassed example of what governments can do when markets collapse.
by Eric Rauchway
The Guardian, May 20, 2020

The Lessons of the Great Depression
In the 1930s, Americans responded to economic calamity by creating a richer and more equitable society. We can do it again.
By Lizabeth Cohen
The Atlantic, May 17, 2020

FDR and the Re-Creation of America
Black-and-white pictures from the Great Depression echo America in the COVID era. The virus is new; the struggle is not. 
CBS Sunday Morning, May 10, 2020

The Virus Won’t Revive F.D.R.’s Arts Jobs Program. Here’s Why.
by Julia Jacobs
New York Times, April 22, 2020

Stimulus isn’t enough. Our cities need a post-pandemic New Deal
by Patrick Sisson
CURBED, April 16, 2020

“The Coronavirus Crisis In The 1930s, Works Program Spelled HOPE for Millions Of Jobless Americans
by Ron Elving
NPR, April 4, 2020, Special Series

Should America Consider Restarting the Civilian Conservation Corps in Response to the Economic Crash? 
Appalachian Magazine, April 3, 2020

The Lost History of FDR’s Court Stacking Scandal
FDR’s court-packing battle is one of the best-known constitutional struggles in U.S. history. Almost no one understands what really happened.
By Judge Glock, Senior policy adviser, Cicero Institute, a nonpartisan think tank
Politico, February 24, 2019

The Green New Deal Is What Realistic Environmental Policy Looks Like
In the 21st century, environmental policy is economic policy. Our carbon emissions are not mainly about the price of gasoline or electricity. They’re about infrastructure. You cannot change the climate impact of Americans without changing the built American landscape.
By Jedediah Britton-Purdy
The New York Times, February 14, 2019

The Case for a New WPA
When the government pays for people to work, they get out of poverty, a new study finds. The social worker Harry Hopkins was convinced of one thing during the Great Depression: It did not benefit a man to sit around waiting for work. “Give a man a dole,” he famously said at the time, “and you save his body and destroy his spirit.”
By Alana Semuels
The Atlantic, April 14, 2016

FDR’s Losing Battle To Pack The Supreme Court 
Even before Roosevelt took office in 1933, he knew a conflict with the high court was inevitable.
LISTEN: Interview with historian Jeff Shesol, author of “Supreme Power.”
Fresh Air, April 13, 2010 (37 minutes)

New Deal Map — Washington, DC

New-Deal-DC-map-cover

Check out our new 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.