Created in the mid-1930s in response to the Great Depression, parts of the Works Progress Administration were focused in part on providing artwork for public buildings while assisting struggling artists. Artists were tasked with creating posters that promoted the landscapes and wildlife of America’s parks. 

Illustration courtesy Library of Congress

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    On April 8, 1935, Congress approved the formation of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA was created to combat the Great Depression, which left nearly 25% of Americans unemployed.
    Under the inspired leadership of Harry Hopkins, the WPA put more than 8 million Americans to work building public facilities: bridges, roads, buildings, parks, airports. Some of the projects supported by the WPA include the Grand Coulee Dam, Washington; Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California; and the Dock Street Theater in Charleston, South Carolina. A smaller WPA program employed entertainers and artists, such as Jacob Lawrence and Jackson Pollock.
    Employment in the WPA and other New Deal agencies decreased as more people went to work for the defense industry in the build-up to World War II. The WPA was suspended in 1943.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    combat Verb

    to fight.

    Congress Noun

    legislative branch of the government, responsible for making laws. The U.S. Congress has two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    forest Noun

    ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

    Great Depression Noun

    (1929-1941) period of very low economic activity in the U.S. and throughout the world.

    industry Noun

    activity that produces goods and services.

    inspire Verb

    to influence to act.

    mural Noun

    artwork painted directly on a wall.

    national park Noun

    geographic area protected by the national government of a country.

    New Deal Noun

    (1933-1938) series of U.S. government programs intended to provide economic "relief, recovery, and reform" to Americans during the Great Depression.

    public Adjective

    available to an entire community, not limited to paying members.

    survive Verb

    to live.

    Works Progress Administration (WPA) Noun

    (1935-1943) federal agency formed during the Great Depression to create public work for the unemployed. Also called the Works Projects Administration.

    World War II Noun

    (1939-1945) armed conflict between the Allies (represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) and the Axis (represented by Germany, Italy, and Japan.)