Here’s another narrative snippet that accompanies the maps show at the Carco Theatre in Renton, reception April 23 (I’ll have an invite with directions/time as the date gets closer).
The Work Projects Administration or the WPA, came about in response to the financial disaster of 1929 that led to the Great Depression.
The WPA was then what we call now a “stimulus package” and a big one at that: when it ended in 1943, it was the nation’s number one employer.
The Administration was involved in a wide variety of projects that would be unthinkable today. The goal was simple and clear: keep America working. In line with that directive, the projects spanned every conceivable trade and endeavor, from theatre and music, to roads and bridges, to murals and parks, to municipal buildings and even movies.
Nearly every city in America today has some structure or installation that was funded with WPA grant money. Some of the projects in our region still resonate today: the Northwest School of artists founded by Mark Tobey with WPA funds included Morris Graves and Guy Anderson.
In my own West Seattle neighborhood, not a week goes by without a jog past the WPA logo embossed on the seawall where Lincoln Park meets the Puget Sound.
In the summer we walk to The Junction for an ice cream cone at the Husky Deli, a local favorite that survived the Depression thanks to a WPA grant to supply ice cream sandwiches to local public schools.