Saturday, February 24, 2007

WPA: the Evolution of an Issue

When your political juices are running especially hot, do consider how time can transform yesterday's contentious issue into today's nostalgia. Collectible, at that. In part, anyhow.
This old WPA sign was displayed in the window of an antique shop on Cortez Street. One more small piece of history for sale. I am old enough to recall my fiery and domineering California grandfather pounding the kitchen table as he expounded about "That Man in the White House" and his shenanigans. The time was the 30s. The Depression.

Today, FDR's Works Progress Administration is a forgotten and perhaps quaint piece of our past. But there are remnants throughout the country, including Prescott. Look for those symbols in older sidewalks -- or remains (above), such as the fragment which I found in the landscaping at the Prescott College Crossroads Center.

Here is a more robust version in a sidewalk still in use after 70 years.

This stamp on the concrete below the Smoki Museum represents a really substantial project. Many unemployed Prescott men were put to work building what was at the time Prescott's Armory on Gurley Street (below.) Today, it's the Grace Sparks Activity Center, named after the lady who spearheaded WPA activity in the area.

The wonderful rock masonry at the Smoki Museum was also part of the project.

We can even wax nostalgic about the well built stone staircase (and a stone-faced curb) that leads up to the Smoki. I wonder if there are any stone masons left who could do this sort of work today.

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