President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the WPA with an executive order on May 6, 1935. It was part of his New Deal plan to lift the country out of the Great Depression by reforming the financial system and restoring the economy to pre-Depression levels. The unemployment rate in 1935 was at a staggering 20 percent. The WPA was designed to provide relief for the unemployed by providing jobs and income for millions of Americans. At its height in late 1938, more than 3.3 million Americans worked for the WPA.
The WPA – which in 1939 was renamed the Work Projects Administration – employed mostly unskilled men to carry out public works infrastructure projects. They built more than 4,000 new school buildings, erected 130 new hospitals, laid roughly 9,000 miles of storm drains and sanitary sewer lines, built 29,000 new bridges, constructed 150 new airfields, paved or repaired 280,000 miles of roads and planted 24 million trees.
A local WPA example project is Island Park's Village Hall.
As weapons production for World War II began ramping up and unemployment dropped, the federal government decided a national relief program was no longer needed. The WPA shut down in June of 1943. At that time, unemployment was less than two percent. Many Americans had transitioned to work in the armed services and defense industries.
Island Park Village Hall, 1936
Island Park Village Hall Preservation Society is a tax exempt nonprofit. Tax identification number: 83-1153262