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New Mexico Works Progress Administration (WPA) Sites

Give a man a dole, and you save his body and destroy his spirit.
Give him a job and you save both body and spirit.

Harry Hopkins, WPA Administrator

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.

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