Built by the New Deal

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Updated Dec 14, 2009

Five former Civilian Conservation Corps members, all in their 80s and 90s, attended their annual reunion at Maryland’s Gambrill State Park, reports iThe Frederick News-Post in this story.

How does this pertain to trucking? As Americans debate how best to get our 21st-century roads and bridges built, it may be worth remembering that a lot of the national infrastructure we now take for granted was built during the Depression by thousands of workers mobilized and inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A new book by Robert D. Leighninger Jr. is titled iLong-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal (University of South Carolina Press, $24.95). In the Nov. 8 issue of iThe New York Review of Books, Benjamin M. Friedman describes Leighninger’s catalog of “>long-term physical contributions” built by the CCC and other emergency agencies

They include hospitals, schools, auditoriums, museums, courthouses, city halls, fire stations, waterworks, parks, fairgrounds, farmers’ markets, and countless other facilities, many of which are still in use today. He not only describes many of these projects but supplements his written account with photographs (many that he took himself) of such well-known sites as Hoover Dam, San Francisco’s Cow Palace, Washington’s Reagan National Airport, and Houston’s City Hall, as well as lesser-known ones like San Antonio’s River Walk, Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, the Mountain Theater on California’s Mount Tamalpais, and the Eighteenth Precinct police station in New York City. Especially in view of the tragic collapse in early August of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, first opened in 1967, it is all the more impressive that earlier, depression-era contributions to America’s transportation system like New York’s Triborough Bridge and the San Francisco Bay Bridge are still in place, carrying traffic every day.

Who’s mobilizing and inspiring Americans to build needed roads and bridges today?

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