Tuesday, March 01, 2011

WPA bricks

The WPA is something that I have heard a lot about during my lifetime. But, those of you who are a generation or two removed from family members who lived during the "Great Depression" of the 1930's and the following war years may be unfamiliar with the work of the WPA, so here is the Wikipedia cliff notes.

Created by order of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Works Progress Administration (renamed during 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA) was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. It fed children and redistributed food, clothing, and housing. Almost every community in the United States had a park, bridge or school constructed by the agency, which especially benefited rural and Western populations.
Many beautiful buildings, walls and other structures were built in our area by the WPA. Since most of the sites were constructed from stone, brick and concrete they were made to last a lifetime. The WPA built hundreds perhaps hundreds of thousands of miles of brick roads across this country. I doubt if there is a small town anywhere that did not have, at one time, a Main Street constructed of bricks by WPA workers.

I also suspect that most of those miles of brick are still there, hidden under tons of asphalt paving. For many decades cities began paving over the bricks claiming they were not suitable for modern day automobiles. Blaming the bricks for became slick when wet on the rise in traffic accidents instead of the heavier vehicles and increased speed limits of growing towns.

I was excited to read recently that quite a few old cities are starting to chip away all that asphalt and dig up the bricks and turn them over, placing the unworn side up as part of their revitalizing of their downtown districts. Wanting to bring back the charm and character of yesteryear to the old business areas that have become overlooked by big box stores on the city edge.

That is something I hope our city fathers can be convinced to do as well. As the following photos will show those seventy something year old WPA brick on our Main Street are in better shape than the asphalt covering them.

I am linking this post to Ruby Tuesday and Rednesday.

Mary at "Work of the Poet" hosts Ruby Tuesday. Rednesday is a Wednesday meme hosted by Sue at "It's a Very Cherry World." Both memes are dedicated to the color red. To join the fun or just check out what Red others are excited to share visit Mary and her friends at Ruby Tuesdayand Sue and her friends fromRednesday


  1. a beautiful shot^^ happy ruby tuesday enjoy your day and have a blessed time. here is my quote for you today
    Courage doesn’t always roar.
    Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
    at the end of the day saying,
    “I will try again tomorrow.”

  2. Hi Rita ~~ This is sooooooo good. And yes, I remember those days really well.

    While I was in grade school, a one roomer in Nebraska, those folk brought us two (2) new out houses. That was another of their projects, making and installing community outhouses. I think though, that CCC labor put ours in. After all it did involve digging holse too.

    Before we just had one for both the boys and the girls. Most times there were eight or less students so we were doing great with having two!

    Happy RT! It's been a while since I have done this for Mary and her bunch.

  3. Our Main St up north has some side streets that are brick but they made the phony type because cars are driving over them. They look real though.

  4. This is such an interesting post. Thanks for the history lesson. Here we have a good many CCC buildings from the same time period. Happy Rednesday.

  5. I didn't know about the brick sidewalks, but over the years we have see many stone bridges and buildings and structures in nat'l parks etc made by WPA == and lately, every time we talk about why something like that couldn't work nowadays.

  6. Those look like the bricks in the front of my house where the mortar is just barely hanging in...

  7. I also love the idea. The bricks are so much better looking than asphalt, and what a great way to use whats already there.

  8. My, but you really opened up my memory bank today. Trust me, I know all about those days. I was born in 1929 and grew in up in depression days. I wonder how I survived the life we lived.

  9. Hi Rita Sweetie...
    Hope you are doing well. I love your share today. How interesting to read about the bricks. You learn something new every day, and it always amazing me how we always go back to what we used to have, when the new fangled stuff quits working. (Somebody is always trying to change or fix things that aren't broken.)

    The House of Brick stood against the Big Bad Wolf didn't it? Love it.

    Have a beautiful day sweetie. Always a pleasure to stop over and say hello. Many hugs and much love, Sherry

  10. I like the idea of flipping bricks! I'm a brick girl, myself, and have them all over my yard as paths and garden edging.

    Reminds me of my younger days when I worked in Boston proper, trying to maneuver my disco heels over the cobblestone streets!


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