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Reporter Catherine Winter was surprised to find that one of the poor families that benefited from the New Deal was her own. Support for Bridge to Somewhere and the public television project Blueprint America was provided by the Rockefeller Foundation.
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The Public Works Administration (PWA) was a New Deal agency in the United States headed by Secretary of the Interior Harold L. The PWA spent over $6 billion, and helped to push industry back toward pre-Depression levels. Frances Perkins had first suggested a federally financed public works program, and the idea received considerable support from Harold L.
The PWA headquarters in Washington planned projects, which were built by private construction companies hiring workers on the open market. More than any other New Deal program, the PWA epitomized the liberal notion of "priming the pump" to encourage economic recovery.
Streets and highways were the most common PWA projects, as 11,428 road projects, or 33% of all PWA projects, accounted for over 15% of its total budget. The PWA became, with its "multiplier-effect" and first two-year budget of $3.3 billion (compared to the entire GDP of $60 billion), the driving force of America’s biggest construction effort up to that date.
The PWA was the centerpiece of the New Deal program for building public housing for the poor people in cities.


Reeves (1973) argues that the competitive theory of administration used by Roosevelt produced inefficiency and delays. The PWA should not be confused with its great rival the WPA, the Works Progress Administration, though both are part of the New Deal. The text of the above Wikipedia article is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Millions of young men who could not find work signed up to be part of Roosevelt's "forest army." They planted trees, fought forest fires, and built trails and buildings we still use today.
It put millions of people to work doing things like painting murals, sewing clothes, running nursery schools and serving school lunches.
PWA workers built projects in all but three counties in the United States, but many of the structures they left behind have no plaque mentioning the PWA. It lowered unemployment and created an infrastructure that generated local pride in the 1930s and remains vital seven decades later. Between July 1933 and March 1939 the PWA funded and administered the construction of more than 34,000 projects including airports, large electricity-generating dams, major warships for the Navy, and bridges, as well as 70% of the new schools and one-third of the hospitals built between 1933-1939.
By June 1934 the agency had distributed its entire fund to 13,266 federal projects and 2,407 non-federal projects.
The competition over the size of expenditure, the selection of the administrator, and the appointment of staff at the state level, led to delays and to the ultimate failure of PWA as a recovery instrument. The WPA, was headed by Harry Hopkins, and was ensnarled in debates about political patronage.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to put people to work by building roads, bridges, dams, sewers, schools, hospitals and even ski jumps. It was created by the National Industrial Recovery Act in June 1933 in response to the Great Depression.
As director of the budget, Lewis Douglas overrode the views of leading senators in reducing appropriations to $3.5 billion and in transferring much of that money to other agencies in lieu of their own specific appropriations. It concentrated on the construction of large-scale public works such as dams and bridges, with the goal of providing employment, stabilize purchasing power, and contribute to a revival of American industry.
For example it provided funds for the Indian Division of the CCC to build roads, bridges and other public works on and near Indian reservations. The PWA accomplished the electrification of rural America, the building of canals, tunnels, bridges, highways, streets, sewage systems, and housing areas, as well as hospitals, schools, and universities; every year it used up roughly half of the concrete and one-third of the steel of the entire nation. Political competition between rival Democratic state organizations and between Democrats and Progressive Republicans led to delays in implementing PWA efforts on the local level. Ickes instituted quotas for hiring skilled and unskilled blacks in construction financed through the Public Works Administration (PWA). Resistance from employers and unions was partially overcome by negotiations and implied sanctions.



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