Sunday, February 22, 2009

Texas Wouldn't Be The Same Without The New Deal
Before you bash the idea of New Deal-style government spending, take a look around. Some Texans have been "agin" federal projects since 1933 and the beginning of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s original New Deal. Nothing wrong with watching pennies. But, if you want to see the New Deal in action, you don’t have to go very far. . .
Start at Dealey Plaza.

Those oak trees were planted with Washington money. The columns were sculpted with New Deal dollars.

Back before freeways were built, and before President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade made its fateful turn onto Elm Street, Dealey Plaza was known as the "Gateway to Dallas."

In today’s dollars, that project cost $1.5 million.

The Children’s Aquarium in Fair Park and the Museum of Nature & Science were New Deal projects. So was the lagoon — and the drainage system, built quickly before Dallas hosted 6 million visitors for the 1936 Texas Centennial state celebration and fair.

In Fort Worth, our parrots and Komodo dragons in the Fort Worth Zoo live in shelters built for monkeys and alligators during the New Deal. (The zoo didn’t make the cut for projects this go-round.)

Federal money helped build the Will Rogers Memorial Center and plant roses in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Same for its counterpart in East Texas, the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden.

The New Deal also built not one but two roads between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Texas 183 from Love Field to Fort Worth eventually became Airport Freeway, paving the way for our cities’ single greatest success, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

Spur 303 — Pioneer Parkway — still connects Oak Cliff with Grand Prairie, Arlington and Fort Worth.

Government money built Fort Worth’s art-deco high school football stadium, Farrington Field. The New Deal built the county hospital, the downtown municipal courts building, a now-gone library and college classrooms in Arlington.

College history professor J. Todd Moye mentioned a few of the projects Monday on the opinion page. He wrote: "Imagine for a moment what Fort Worth would look like had the government not made those investments." Yes.

Not only that, but imagine San Antonio without the River Walk.

Imagine Texas without the $350 million in federal projects — $5 billion in today’s dollars — delivered by the New Deal through the Works Progress Administration and the park-building Civilian Conservation Corps.

Imagine North Texas going through the 1930s without 250,000 working-class jobs.

Maybe those weren’t "real jobs." But they paid real money that Texans spent on real rent, real groceries and real clothes. And saved real jobs.

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