Work can seep into a vacation, but sometimes in a good way. A few years ago, I spent a lovely weekend in Bisbee, Arizona.
Bisbee showcases a lot of cultural landscape history, but in an artistic sort of way. The town prominently features all sorts of WPA public works, both art and infrastructure. The photos in this post focus on the sidewalk curbs’ official embossings and unofficial graffiti.
Graffiti with soul.
I love WPA impressions for many reasons.
- The WPA had soul. – It allowed millions of artists and artisans to leave their creative marks on useful items all over the country: hiking trails, parks, irrigation systems, roads, everything. All those items from the WPA, even the mundane, exhibit the creativity of members of this country during that time.
- The embossings define an element to a time and place in our country.
- Some etches include graffiti by the WPA workers.
- I love the New Deal.
A Little Background
New Deal: The United States (U.S.) implemented the New Deal from 1933 through 1936 in response to the Great Depression. It included a variety of programs contributing to the country’s infrastructure and betterment, while providing jobs. Some of these, like the WPA, lasted beyond 1936. The New Deal’s purpose was relief, recovery, and reform.
- Reform: of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.
- Relief: for the unemployed and the poor.
- Recovery: of the economy to economic levels.
Federal legislators enacted several laws and programs to boost the country’s economic situation during this time. They included:
- improving housing opportunities for the poor,
- enhancing workers’ rights, and
- combatting rural poverty
Other acts of legislations created economic safety nets to prevent a re-occuring depression. Also, the U.S. implemented programs to document the country, improve infrastructure and create jobs. One of these programs was the WPA (Wikipedia[a] n.d.).
WPA: The WPA was one of the programs under the umbrella of the New Deal during the Great Depression. Starting as the Works Progress Administration, it was renamed the Works Projects Administration in 1939. It began in 1935. It provided 8 million jobs by its end in 1943. These jobs were mainly public works projects, including construction of roads, irrigation systems and public buildings, operation of large arts, drama, media and literacy programs.
It also redistributed food, shelter and clothing, and fed children (Wikipedia[b] n.d.).
Vestiges of the WPA are all across the U.S.: the public buildings and parks, of course, but also graffiti on or near various public works.
Bisbee is a town filled with WPA reminders, some bold, some you have to look for, like graffiti on the sidewalk. I wonder what those workers lives were like after the Great Depression.
WPA Graffiti (Official and Not): Bisbee Examples by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.