If you live or have lived in Oklahoma you have been around the many New Deal structures or projects that were completed during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The amount of work accomplished during the period between 1933 to 1942 included roads, bridges, ditches, schools, lakes, armories, and many other structures that we still use to this day. Most of the citizens of Oklahoma had already been living in a depression since 1920, since Oklahoma was providing more than 50% of the exports of oil, cotton, and wheat during the First World War, when the prices dropped so drastically starting in 1921. Then with the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the bank closings of the early part of the 1930s, Oklahomans just like the rest of the country were demanding action and work to help alleviate the hopeless feeling felt by many in the state. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, during his first 100 days, made true his pledge to the people he gave in his acceptance for the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, July 02, 1932.
I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people. Let us all here assembled constitute ourselves prophets of a new order of competence and of courage. This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people.
He established first the National Recovery Act (NRA) that put people and business back to work and established fair practices in business and labor, then the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that put people back to work and would conserve the nation’s national resources. With the NRA came the Public Works Administration established to provide work through the construction of different types of projects such as buildings like the Civic Center in Oklahoma City and Tulsa Union Station.
Many more agencies of what was called the Alphabet Soap of agencies help the nation as a whole but especially help Oklahoma in establishing programs and structures that are in good condition and in use today.
Within the pages of this website are just some of the many structures that according to Dr. David Baird, who developed a thematic survey of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) structures of Oklahoma, stated in his final report “Among other things, they were mute reminders of the emotional distress and physical pain many Oklahomans suffered during the 1930s and of an Enlighted relief effort by the Federal Government that alleviated much of the suffering.” Throughout this research project it has been discovered that we still use 25% of the structures and over 3/4 of the roads, bridges, airport runways, park structures, and lakes. We therefore must be thankful for those who were suffering, yet would not give up and push forward for us today to have a better state.
Start here to follow view some of those structures.