Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The East Bay and the New Deal

The New Deal, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's massive rolling out of federal funds to kick start both local and national economies in the wake of the Great Depression and the Stock Market Crash of 1929, had a profound effect on the country at large, but had a particularly important and lasting effect right here at home in the Bay Area.  I won't even try to encompass the history of the New Deal here; there's simply too much information there and I could not do it justice.  Instead, please check out Wikipedia's entry on the New Deal and learn all about it.

When we consider the New Deal here in the Bay Area, the first important thing to realize is that federal involvement was not localized, small-scale, or inconsequential.  There are 516 listed New Deal projects within the immediate Bay Area, all of which were the result of federal money and work programs that poured money and resources into the area. What kind of projects you may ask?  Below is a short list containing some of the more important or recognizable projects that were completed, either in part or in whole, with New Deal funding.  I've limited the scope to the immediate East Bay, meaning Alameda, Oakland, and Berkeley, in order to get a better handle on the size of the list.
  •  Highland Hospital, Oakland
  • Alameda County Courthouse
  •  Lake Merritt Dock 
  •  Joaquin Miller Regional Park
  •  The Caldecott Tunnel
  •  Lake Temescal
  •  The San Francisco Bay Bridge
  •  Skyline Blvd.
  •  The Park St. bridge, Alameda
  •  The High St. bridge, Alameda
  •  Alameda Public Library building, West Branch
  •  The Port of Oakland
  •  Tilden Park
  • Oakland International Airport
  • Berkeley Aquatic Park
  • The Berkeley Marina
  • Oakland Municipal Rose Garden (Morcom Rose Garden)
  •  Twelve elementary and high schools in Oakland and Berkeley
  •  Eleven city parks in Oakland and Berkeley
All of these projects are still in use today.  Without waving my personal political flag, I would question anyone who claims that federal investment in local infrastructure is either unwise or inconsequential.  I'm planning on exploring the history of many of these sites in weeks and months to come and I'm excited to continue to learn about such a vital part of the Bay Area's history.

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