President Barack Obama wants to create jobs by building infrastructure. So did another president. Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to put people to work by building roads, bridges, dams, sewers, schools, hospitals and even ski jumps. The structures that New Deal agencies built transformed America.


The Civilian Conservation Corps was the first and most popular New Deal program. 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.


The WPA was one of Roosevelt's most controversial programs. It put millions of people to work doing things like painting murals, sewing clothes, running nursery schools and serving school lunches. But most WPA workers built things. Their legacy is all around us.


The Public Works Administration left an enormous legacy of public works. 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. Americans use these structures every day without realizing where they came from.

You can download the radio program or read the transcript.

Reporter Catherine Winter was surprised to find that one of the poor families that benefited from the New Deal was her own.

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Support for Bridge to Somewhere and the public television project Blueprint America was provided by the Rockefeller Foundation.

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