"Now once more the belt is tight and we summon the proper expression of horror as we look back at our wasted youth…and it seemed only a question of a few years before the older people would step aside and let the world be run by those who saw things as they were — and it all seems rosy and romantic to us who were young then, because we will never feel quite so intensely about our surroundings any more."
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Echoes of the Jazz Age (1931)
Debates on issues like climate change, migration, and certainly the current COVID-19 pandemic suggest a divide on the merits of making sacrifices today for a better tomorrow. This is not unprecedented. The early years of the Great Depression saw one in four Americans without work and economic activity nearly halved. In its midst of this calamity, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) created under the Roosevelt administration hired more than 8.5 million people to work on 1.4 million projects. Nearly a century later, over 15,000 sites nationwide, and over 300 in New Mexico alone, remain and many still operate, including schools, government facilities, parks, and murals.
These images comprise the early stage of a documentary survey of selected extant and abandoned WPA sites in New Mexico. The intent of this project is to illustrate at least two benefits, namely, near-term job creation that helped people back then, and the longer-term transformation of place evident today.
Carrizozo Women’s Club, Carrizozo, New Mexico, March 2, 2019
Arch Hurley Conservancy District Building, Tucumcari,
New Mexico, February 23, 2019
New Mexico Public Welfare Building, Santa Fe, New Mexico,
March 17, 2019
Corona Public School, Corona, New Mexico, March 9, 2019
Albuquerque Little Theatre, Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 22, 2019
City Hall (originally a High School), Santa Rosa, New Mexico, February 23, 2019
Harwood Art Center Building, Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 22, 2019
City Hall Building (now vacant), Tucumcari, New Mexico, February 23, 2019
New Mexico Supreme Court Building, Santa Fe, New Mexico, February 16, 2019
Carlos Gilbert Elementary School, Santa Fe, New Mexico, April 14, 2019
Heights Community Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 22, 2019
Marshall Junior High School, Clovis, New Mexico, March 24, 2019
Quarai Mission Structure, Mountainair, New Mexico, May 9, 2019
WPA Wall, Melrose, New Mexico, March 24, 2019
School Building, St. Vrain, New Mexico, March 24, 2019
Cedarvale School, Cedarvale, New Mexico, March 9, 2019