Finding Depression-era history on an old sidewalk

wpa second photo2I was in my old neighborhood in Mount Vernon, Washington, and I wondered if I could still find the old marking etched in wet concrete from long ago.

I had told my son the sidewalks had historic marks because they were built by workers who got jobs with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. The sidewalk linked Lincoln School and Hillcrest Park Lodge, two of several big civic projects the city took on in the late 1930s with help from FDR’s programs.

My son scouted the sidewalk past our old house and found a well-worn mark that had been left in wet pavement: “WPA 1939.”

It was a New Deal then, and it seems like a great deal 77 years later. The sidewalk is still going strong, with few cracks and no buckles.