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Works Progress Administration

From Academic Kids

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WPA Graphic

The Works Progress Administration (later Works Projects Administration, abbreviated WPA), was created on May 6, 1935 with the signing of Executive Order 7034. It was the largest and most comprehensive New Deal agency. Headed by Harry L. Hopkins, it was a "make work" program that provided jobs and income to the unemployed during the Great Depression. WPA projects primarily employed blue-collar workers in construction projects across the nation, but also employed white-collar workers and artists on smaller-scale projects, and even ran a circus.

According to author Nick Taylor, "The WPA built 650,000 miles of roads, 78,000 bridges, 125,000 buildings, and seven hundred miles of airport runways... It presented 225,000 concerts to audiences totalling 150 million, and produced almost 475,000 works of art. Even today, almost sixty years after it ceased to exist, there is no part of America that does not bear some mark of the WPA."

With unemployment figures falling fast due to World War II-related employment, Franklin D. Roosevelt shut down the WPA on December 4, 1943.

Famous WPA projects include

Some who experienced work in the WPA have been known to refer to it as "We Poke Along", "We Piddle Along" or "We Putter Around". This is a reference to WPA projects that sometimes slowed to a crawl, because workers often had no knowledge of when the next job was coming.

When major league baseball expanded from 16 to 20 teams in the early 1960s, one of the new clubs was the New York Mets, whose first few seasons were demonstrably futile. According to the book, Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?, former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Billy Loes, who once booted a ground ball and told reporters he "lost it in the sun", made the following grammatically questionable observation: "The Mets is a good thing. They give everybody jobs. Just like the WPA!"

See also


Federal Writers' Project | Historical Records Survey | Federal Theatre Project | Federal Art Project | Federal Music Project

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