Berkeley and the New Deal (Images of America)
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Berkeleys 1930s and early 1940s New Deal structures and projects left a lasting legacy of utilitarian and beautiful infrastructure. These public buildings, schools, parks, and artworks helped shape the city and thus the lives of its residents; it is hard to imagine Berkeley without them. The artists and architects of these projects mention several themes: working for the community, responsibility, the importance of government support, collaboration, and creating a cultural renaissance. These New Deal projects, however, can be called hidden history because their legacies have been mostly ignored and forgotten. Comprehending the impact of the New Deal on one American city is only possible when viewed as a whole. Berkeley might have gotten a little more or a little less New Deal funding than other towns, but this time it wasnt Bezerkeley but very much typical and mainstream. More than history, this book shows the periods relevance to todays social, political, and economic realities. The times may again call for comprehensive public policy that reaches Main Street.
Architects. The school was completed in 1939 in classic PWA Moderne style. Onefifth of the $226,000 building cost came from the Public Works Administration. (BPL.) The interior of the school now known as Berkeley Arts Magnet was gutted and remodeled in 1994. Note the geometric patterns above the windows and atop the walls. Whittier School was built as the University Elementary School, a demonstrations school for UC Berkeley. It was designed as the most up-to-date educational facility for 500 to
fixtures grace both sides of the main entrance to the library. 59 The ornately painting ceiling of the main central hall of the library is seen without the original chandelier. A replica replaced it during the recent restoration. The painted beams and turned support posts of the children’s and adult reading rooms give an additional flourish to the building. The lavish architectural detail in some New Deal buildings relied on the talented craftspeople whose trades were threatened by the
insurance. 8 The first federal art program, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), was started in 1933. Later, the Treasury Department established two programs to adorn federal buildings by commissioning artists through a competitive process (known as the Section) and by directly hiring artists on relief (known as the Treasury Relief Art Project). Under the Section of Painting and Sculpture, artists signed contracts under the direction of the secretary of the treasury for the United States
improve public health in all dimensions and did so for generations. This book is a toast to the forgotten men and women whose innumerable gifts we have for so long unwittingly enjoyed. —Gray Brechin, author of Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin and founder of the Living New Deal 6 Acknowledgments This book started with my 2010 exhibit at the Berkeley Historical Society, The 75th Anniversary of the WPA in Berkeley. Just as the New Deal was a collaborative effort, so was putting
elaborately finished proposed hall of justice building designed by architect James W. Plachek. Because the completed building would face a residential street, perhaps it was thought that more ornamentation was not needed or funds were less than necessary. (Both, BPDHU.) 45 Attendees gather for the November 29, 1938, ground-breaking ceremony for the Hall of Justice. The palm tree across the street is now gone, but the house to the right and the two to the left still stand on McKinley Avenue.