Mon
7

History HiJinks Book Club: American Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA by Nick Taylor

Monday, May 7, 2012

7:00 PM-8:15 PM

Cost: Free

Providence Public Library
150 Empire Street
Providence, RI 02903

Trustee's Room (3rd Floor)

American Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA by Nick Taylor 

If you've traveled the nation's highways, flown into New York's LaGuardia Airport, strolled San Antonio's River Walk, or seen the Pacific Ocean from the Beach Chalet in San Francisco, you have experienced some part of the legacy of the Works Progress Administration (WPA)--one of the enduring cornerstones of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.  Four years into the Great Depression, a staggering 13 million American workers were jobless and many millions more of their family members were equally in need. Desperation ruled the land. What people wanted were jobs, not handouts: the pride of earning a paycheck; and in 1935, after a variety of temporary relief measures, a permanent nationwide jobs program was created.

This was the Works Progress Administration, and it would forever change the physical landscape and the social policies of the United States.  Even today, more than sixty years after the WPA ceased to exist, there is almost no area in America that does not bear some visible mark of its presence. Politically controversial, the WPA was staffed by passionate believers and hated by conservatives; its critics called its projects make-work and wags said it stood for We Piddle Around. The contrary was true. We have only to look about us today to discover its lasting presence.

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