rhe Record of PWA \
From the collection of the
San Francisco, California
SINCE THIS REPORT WAS PREPARED
FOR PUBLICATION, THE PUBLIC WORKS
ADMINISTRATION ON JULY I, 1939, IN
ACCORDANCE WITH THE PRESIDENT'S
REORGANIZATION PLAN, WAS TRANS-
FERRED TO THE FEDERAL WORKS AGENCY
HEADED BY JOHN M. CARMODY,
THE RECORD OF
PUBLIC WORKS ADMINISTRATION
PREPARED IN THE DIVISION OF INFORMATION
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE WASHINGTON 1939
FOR SALE BY THE SUPERINTENDENT OF DOCUMENTS
PRICE 70 CENTS
.N JUNE 1933, this Nation undertook to test whether
public works, carried out through the normal channels of
private enterprise, could be made effective as a medium of
reemployment and economic recovery. The Congress en-
trusted stewardship of this colossal task to the President,
and as his agent established the Public Works Administra-
tion, familiarly known as PWA.
For almost 6 years, with funds appropriated by the Con-
gress at irregular intervals, PWA has carried on a Nation-
wide program of construction, in cooperation with the various
departments of the Federal Government, and with thousands
of State, county, city, and other local governments. In
carrying out its duties, PWA has acquired a wealth of ex-
perience and has accumulated factual records and data by
which an objective and definitive appraisal of its activities
now may be made, and in the light of which the whole
theory of public works may be reexamined.
At this time, when national recognition of this 6 years'
endeavor has been accorded by the President's action in in-
cluding PWA in the new Federal Works Agency, it is ap-
propriate that a record of PWA's work be made available.
Therefore, I have had this publication prepared in order to
present in a single, comprehensive report, such essential in-
formation regarding the history, experience and activities of
PWA as may be of interest to citizens generally as well as
to students of the theory of public works and its efficacy in
helping to bring about economic recovery.
WASHINGTON, June i, 1939.
FOREWORD By the Administrator v
CHAPTER I Theory and Facts I
II Men and Materials 17
III Mandate of Congress 33
IV Legal Framework 49
V Loans and Bonds 61
VI Engineering Blueprints 73
VII Honest Dollars 83
VIII The Federal Programs 95
IX Electric Power 1 1 5
X For Better Education 127
XI Aids to Health 141
XII Sewage and Stream Pollution 155
XIII Water Is Life 169
XIV Land, Sea and Air 181
XV For Government Business 195
XVI Public Housing 207
XVII Summary 219
XVIII Case Histories 225
Project maps, type and summary tables, miscella-
A iM ERICA BUILDS
ON THE 1 6th of June, 1933, PWA
In the White House, the executive offices in the west wing
were crowded. Members of Congress, Government officials,
and newspaper men, alert and expectant, reflected the hope
of a Nation which had undergone more than 3 years of deep
depression. On the President's desk rested a mass of
weighty legislation the last bills passed by a Congress which
had labored and sweated for 100 days of a history-making
At 5 minutes before noon the press photographers lined
themselves up in the President's old l office. They raised
1 The executive offices were later remodeled as PWA Federal project No. i.
their cameras and focused their lenses on the President
seated at his desk, and on the two Senators and four Repre-
sentatives arrayed behind him against the windows over-
looking the south lawn. Smiling and confident, the Presi-
dent lifted his pen. The flash-bulbs flared. The camera
shutters clicked. With bold strokes, the President signed
"Franklin D. Roosevelt" to the National Industrial Recovery
Act, Title II of which provided for the largest program of
public works construction ever entrusted to a single agency.
Thus, the Federal Emergency Administration of Public
Works, soon to be popularly known as PWA, was launched
on its career.
In the rain-swept streets of Washington as well as in the
stately offices of the White House, in homes and business
offices throughout the Nation, people knew that their Gov-
ernment had embarked at last on a program of action to cope
with a major problem of the depression. The radio and
newspaper headlines carried the story to the myriad workers
who had been normally employed in the construction trades
carpenters, bricklayers, masons, plumbers, cement mixers,
drillers, pipe fitters, truckmen, and steel workers. The mes-
sage reached laborers in the iron, coal, lead, and copper
mines, in the steel, lumber, and cement mills, in the factories
making brick, tile, glass, hardware, linoleum, sheet metal,
doors, bathtubs, radiators, derricks, and excavators.
Here was an army of about 6% million skilled men who
had participated from 1922 to 1930 in the largest construc-
tion boom this country had ever known. During those
buoyant, optimistic 8 years, they had worked with private
and public capital to build and furnish materials for an
average of well over 10 billion dollars worth of structures
annually. For private individuals and firms they had built
apartment buildings, homes, office buildings, and factories;
for public utilities they had built dams, power plants, and
telephone exchanges and had laid cables, pipes, wires, and
rails; and for Federal, State, and local governments they had
built bridges, roads, city halls, courthouses, schools, hospitals,
and administration buildings.
Then came a certain i6-million-share day on the stock
exchange. The shattering of the ticker heralded depression.
Construction slowed down. Expenditures by private indi-
viduals declined. Expenditures by public utilities dwindled.
Expenditures by State and local governments staggered to a
standstill. Only the Federal Government, whose normal
expenditures for construction accounted for a mere fraction,
less than 3 percent of the total, continued its activities. All
in all, by 1933 total expenditures for construction of all types
trickled down to less than a third of that of peak years.
Urgent appeals were made by high Government officials
for business to continue its building activities. Special
appeals were directed to the public utilities. They were of
no avail. The bread lines grew longer and longer. But
there is no need to dwell on this story of the anguish and
despair that prevailed. The memory of man is not so short.
Voices from the dim past now began to make themselves
heard the voices of men who had long advocated expansion
of public works in times of depression. These men were not
gloomy Jeremiahs. They were hardheaded realists busi-
nessmen, industrialists, practical economists, and foresighted
legislators in various State assemblies and in the National
Congress. They were men who knew that since earliest
times public works had been used in all countries to take up
the slack in unemployment.
When it finally dawned on the Nation that here was no
mere fluctuation in the business cycle, that the country was
really in a major depression, these ideas began to gather
weight. Modern protagonists of the theory urged action by
the United States. In the United States Congress, Senators
Wagner, La Follette, Costigan, Cutting, and others advo-
cated the immediate launching of a Nation-wide program of
public works. Bill after bill was introduced in Congress.
They were all pigeonholed, defeated, or vetoed. Finally in
1932, a compromise measure, the Emergency Relief and
Construction Act, reached the desk of President Hoover and
PUBLIC WORKS GENERATE EMPLOYMENT
WORK AT SI
WORK OFF SITE
; = i = =
THE ACT OF 1932
This act provided $329,660,000 for Federal public works
and authorized the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to
lend up to i% billion dollars for construction to States,
counties and cities, and, in some instances, private corpora-
tions. But there were strings tied to this measure. The
non-Federal public works had to be "self-liquidating" in
character. They had to be projects that would earn an
While sponsors of the bill were proud of it, feeling they had
made a step forward, other advocates of real public works felt
the act did not go far enough. They felt that the sum of
money appropriated for this program was too small a force to
cope with a major depression. The quantity of Federal
works authorized was small. The amount authorized for
loans, even if local governments availed themselves of the full
amount permitted, was negligible compared with the needs at
As it turned out, the program exerted little effect. What
benefits it did create were more than offset by the defla-
tionary policies in vogue with Federal and local governments.
While public bodies on the one hand were trying to create
increased employment and increased purchasing power, on
the other hand, they were cutting salaries, stopping many
normal activities, curtailing many services, avoiding as much
borrowing as they could, and in many instances increasing
property taxes and installing sales taxes. All of this aggra-
vated rather than ameliorated the situation. Chicago was
flat on its back; it was not paying its school teachers, its
policemen and firemen. It stopped all building. Cincinnati
could not float a bond at a decent rate of interest. Boston was
facing a crisis. San Francisco had scores of baffling problems.
From coast to coast, municipalities were in financial distress.
It was not until the middle of 1933, with the advent of
PWA, that the United States after years of discussion and
after many false starts embarked on a program approaching
sufficient size and scope to test the theories which had long
What were these theories ? They were based on the premise
that recovery could not be achieved by pep talks. Industry
could not be stimulated solely by slogans of "confidence."
Here was a country with a great and growing need for more
schools, more highways, more bridges, more waterworks,
more services of all kinds. Here was an army of men willing
and able to build them. Here was industry hungry for orders
for the needed materials. The idea was to bring all of them
together. The job would have to be done some time, why not
To do the job, everyone knew, would require a lot of money.
It would require the immediate outlay of a lump sum that
would normally be budgeted over a period of years. It would
require billions, not millions of dollars. But the alternatives
were also considered: the cost of maintaining this additional
army of unemployed ; the cost of bankrupt factories unable to
get material orders; the cost of failure to distributors and
small-business men engaged in the wholesale and retail
trades, suffering from the repeated shocks of decreasing pur-
chasing power. These are economic costs. To them must be
added the incalculable cost of lost technical skill, of lost
morale, of lost opportunity.
The basic objective was to restore purchasing power to
bolster a sagging national income. By providing jobs and
material orders through the normal channels of business a
whole segment of the economic structure could be aided. Exist-
ing enterprises contracting firms, engineering firms, architec-
tural firms, material and supply dealers, fabricating plants
and mills could be sustained. Workers in the construction
and allied trades the third largest group of workers in the
Nation 2 (exceeded in size only by the farm group and the
retail and wholesale trade group) could fulfill their consumer
needs. The whole economy could be stimulated.
PWA was set up to provide jobs, to stimulate business, to
2 See Construction Activity in the United States, U. S. Department of Commerce, Govt.
Printing Office, Washington 1938.
increase the national purchasing power, and to help fulfill the
needs of the people for permanent and useful public services.
Congress gave the PWA the powers to carry out such a
program through public works, and provided the agency with
an initial fund of $3, 300,000,000 the largest sum of money
ever appropriated for such a purpose. Later, under succeed-
ing acts, 3 which extended the life of PWA and clarified its
authority, Congress appropriated additional sums of money
amounting to 31,655,000,000 4 and also authorized it to use
some of the proceeds from the sale of bonds obtained by the
Government as collateral for PWA loans. The authority
granted PWA by Congress was of wide scope and the re-
quirement that projects be "self-liquidating," a provision
contained in the 1932 act, was absent.
Despite the lack of precedent for a program of such magni-
tude, PWA plunged into its task with a determination to
carry out the mandate of Congress with as much speed as
prudence would allow. In the years since its establishment,
PWA has financed the construction of 34,508 projects with
an estimated cost of $6,086,000,000. Public works of every
type and description from airway beacons to giant bridges
and dams have been undertaken in all but 3 of the 3,071
counties in the United States through cooperative efforts
with other Federal agencies and with thousands of local
From July 1933 to March 1939, PWA aided in the con-
struction of approximately 70 percent of all the educational
buildings built in the country during the same period; 65
percent of all the sewage treatment plants; 65 percent of all
the courthouses, city halls, and other nonresidential public
buildings; 10 percent of all the roads, streets, bridges, via-
ducts, subways, and other engineering structures; and 35
percent of all the hospitals and allied public-health facilities.
3 For authority and power of PWA see Principal Acts and Executive Orders pertaining
to Public Works Administration, Government Printing Office, Washington, July 1938.
4 For appropriations to and obligations of PWA see table I in the appendix.
Various factors contributed to the ability of the program
to accomplish its objectives in large part. In the first place,
PWA was coordinated by the Administration with certain
other recovery measures. And in the second place, PWA was
established by the Congress as a Nation-wide cooperative
program. The ability of PWA to assist State and local gov-
ernments in meeting their requirements for public service
was a vital element in executing a public-works program of
wide scope. The mere expansion of Federal works, it has
been shown, would never have had the same results.
BENEFITS OF PUBLIC WORKS
The public works constructed by all branches of Govern-
ment has produced three salutary effects. Through wages,
material orders, and other business contracts carried out
through the normal processes of private business, the public-
works program has created an effective demand for consumers
goods and services, for so-called capital goods, and for financial
1. The wages paid out of funds for PWA projects to the
men employed in the construction and allied trades went for
the purchase of food, clothing, shelter, entertainment, and
other services and products. Billions of paralyzed dollars,
which might not otherwise have gone into circulation, were
traded for consumers goods.
2. The nature of PWA construction required considerable
expenditures for so-called durable goods. Buildings, ships,
dams, power plants, and other structures created a demand
for pumps, heating plants, motors, tanks, elevators, and simi-
lar goods. At the same time contractors and manufacturers
with part of the funds obtained from PWA contracts were
placed in a position to buy capital equipment and so-called
producers goods, such as dredges, tractors, excavators, bull-
dozers, trucks, jackhammers, compressors, and hoists. While
the exact amount of such goods used on PWA projects has
not yet been accurately determined, it is estimated that PWA
accounted for a considerable part of the total industrial goods
produced during the last several years.
3. In many cases where businessmen did not have to
utilize funds to maintain their enterprises they actually
registered profits over a period of years. PWA contracts
and material orders served as valid types of security and
created a demand for loans from private banks and other
lending agencies. Thus PWA activities have acted as an
outlet for private credit resources.
The funds released to a public works program, the experi-
ence of PWA has shown, have a regenerative effect. PWA
dollars continue to be used over and over again, creating a
powerful and beneficent effect time and again, alternately to
buy goods and to supply the wherewithal to pay men to
produce more goods. A worker gets a PWA job. He
receives his first pay envelope. He needs a suit of clothes,
so he spends a part of his pay at the clothier. The clothing
dealer takes part of the money and pays the jobber. The
jobber takes part of the money and pays his manufacturer.
The manufacturer pays his workers and buys more cloth
from the mill. The mill owner, in turn, takes part of the
money and buys wool and cotton, and perhaps more ma-
chinery, and so on. A large part of such expenditures repre-
sents a net increase in demands.
It has also been considered important that PWA projects
themselves do not compete with other products of industry.
They do not enter on the market for sale. Rather, the
buildings, bridges, sewer systems, roads, and other public
works often serve to stimulate additional purchases and
further employment of labor. The PWA buildings at the
San Francisco Golden Gate Exposition, for example, help
to stimulate tourist trade. Later they will serve as facilities
for an international airport.
The ability of a public-works program to take up some of
the slack of the decline of the construction industry has been
impressively demonstrated by PWA. It has established in
the minds of people not only its capacity through democratic
procedure to stimulate recovery, but also its possible value
as a means of stabilizing our national economy. The
experience of PWA indicates that public works can be
utilized with great advantage to help keep the business cycles
from dipping too low or going too high. It advances the
probability that various local governments can curtail public
construction to a great degree in times of economic prosperity,
and can reserve such works as are not essential at the moment
for periods of economic depression. By timely action, public
works can assist greatly in halting a deflationary movement
before it has gone too far. Or it can speed up recovery when
the upswing begins.
Advocates of public works have long urged their use for
such a purpose. They have deplored the traditional policy
hitherto pursued by the various local governments, namely,
that of expanding and contracting public works parallel with
expansion and contraction of business. In the past, public
works as a rule were undertaken in good times when funds to
initiate projects were easily available. As a result, govern-
ments competed in boom times with private industry for
labor, materials, and credit, thus raising the cost of public
On the other hand, when depressions came, funds and
credit were scarce. The public demanded a reduction of
expenditures, so new construction came to a standstill.
This curtailment coincided with the stoppage of private
building. It aggravated the situation by adding to the
problem of unemployment, idle goods, and unused capital.
The governments, in that way, acted so as to deflate not
only themselves but the economic communities dependent
For years outstanding statesmen 5 had argued for a re-
versal of this policy. As early as 1919 a bill was introduced
in Congress for the advance planning and control of public
works. In 1921 public works planning was endorsed by the
5 Such as Senator Kenyon who introduced a bill in 1919 carrying an appropriation of
#100,000,000, to create a U. S. Emergency Public Works Board.
President's conference on unemployment. Two years later,
Secretary of Commerce Hoover requested in a letter to the
President that "an Executive order be sent to all divisions of
the Government to have public works slow down until after
there is a relaxation in private demands for labor in con-
struction." Finally, in 1931, Congress enacted a bill which
provided that the Federal departments should prepare plans
for construction projects for 6 years in advance. (See ch.
VIII.) But this bill concerned only the Federal Government
and left the larger portion of the public-works field unpro-
PWA has shown how a public works program can be an
effective Nation-wide program, which could operate like a
peacetime army with a standing force under arms in the
manner of an organized National Guard available for prompt
action and with plans ready for larger mobilization. Even
if it never became necessary to issue "marching orders" the
Nation would still be in a position of economic preparedness.
With the National Government in a position to determine
through Congress when a Nation-wide program should be
undertaken, it could obtain the cooperation of local govern-
ments to reserve a share of their public works for future
periods of emergency.
The use of public works as an instrument for economic
stabilization, however, presupposes their advance planning.
All construction in a sense involves some planning. The
man who builds a bookcase for his library plans his job so
as to produce it when he has the time and with an eye to
the appearance and usefulness of the finished product. The
architect building a home or the engineer responsible for a
bridge also plans his work. Public works officials in towns,
cities, and States are always drawing up plans for projects.
But a collection of projects, worthy and well-designed in
themselves, does not make for full and proper planning.
One must consider public works in relation to the necessity
for them, and to their timeliness, particularly in connection
with other improvements which are contemplated. If Any-
town, for example, is limited by its finances as to the number
of projects it can build, then it must consider what is needed
most. Should it extend its sewer system first or build a new
hospital first? If it is laying out a new industrial area, should
it lay out its streets or build its water system first? Or
should it wait until it can build several works at once so as to
make full use of the new area?
Planning frequently involves the relationship of a given
improvement to similar needs in a whole area. If, for
example, Anytown wants to build a sewage disposal system
to abate pollution in the stream that runs through its resi-
dential area, should it not attempt to coordinate its projects
with those of other towns on the shores of the same stream?
Planning also involves a choice between building a project
of a size that would serve the present population or of a size
that would take into account future needs. These are some
of the aspects of planning which all Government officials
must keep in mind. They are interrelated with municipal
fiscal policy, and involve the long-range view, inasmuch as
the financing of permanent improvements is a matter which
nearly always extends over a long period of years.
BASIS OF ACTION
Today there are more than 1,50x3 towns, cities, and counties
with planning commissions trying to develop comprehensive
plans for the future of their communities and seeking to
coordinate action to carry out their plans. The idea is
rapidly spreading not only upon a local basis but also upon a
State, regional, inter-State and even national basis. Such
planning makes it possible to lay out a program of permanent
improvements not on a year-to-year basis as has been the
common practice in the past, but over a long period of years.
Such an accumulation of projects can be utilized to build up
a reservoir to be maintained during eras of prosperity, to be
released at the proper time during periods of economic
How a reservoir of projects permits action to be undertaken
with promptness was demonstrated by the Public Works
Administration in 1938. With a "backlog" of applications
on file, and with requests from municipalities for projects
coming in at the rate of a billion dollars a month within a
3-month period, PWA found that when it became necessary
to expand public works activities at a given time, it was able
to proceed with a minimum of delay. In many cases com-
munities had already secured authorization for their bond
issues, had drawn up detailed plans and specifications, and
had acquired sites so that within 2 weeks' time after the word
"go" was given, the dirt began to fly, and a vast Nation-wide
program was under way.
While PWA has shown that it has been able to create a
remarkable expansion of public works in a time of depression,
the task of creating a public works policy so flexible that
communities would also be able and willing to contract its
construction in boom periods and set up reservoirs of projects
for emergency use is just now being tackled. PWA has of
necessity had to contend with an emergency situation, but
during its lifetime it has acquired a vast fund of information
concerning public works of all sorts, Federal, State, and
municipal, throughout the country, and has set up a smoothly
functioning machinery containing expert personnel thoroughly
familiar with the problems involved.
WORKERS AT GRAND COULEE DAM ON THE COLUMBIA RIVER IN WASHINGTON
STATE LINE UP AT THE PAY WINDOWS TO RECEIVE THEIR WAGES. SOME
HAVE HAD STEADY WORK ON THIS GIGANTIC PROJECT FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS
EVERY person wants to
know what he is going to get
for his money. A prudent investor also likes to examine
carefully what he has bought so that he may determine
whether his investment has been a good one, and whether,
when the occasion arises, he would invest again in the same
way. PWA, as a prudent investor, has made a technical
examination of every local project proposed before it has
allotted funds, and has maintained a check on the public
works built with its funds. Every inventory it has taken
shows that PWA projects, on the whole, have been well built
and honestly built, and that the schools, hospitals, court-
houses, bridges, roads, waterworks and other public works of
a permanent nature have met definite community needs.
But PWA was established as a recovery agency, and has
therefore been interested in more than the end products of its
investment. It has been interested in determining how much
employment the building of these projects has created, how
much employment it has provided at the sites of construction
and in mills, plants, and factories supplying materials for the
projects; how much stimulus it has provided for industry; how
much business it has generated throughout our whole economy.
Such facts have not been easy to determine. If PWA
dollars could have been marked with a distinctive symbol,
their progress and speed from the mint to the Treasury, from
the Treasury to the local owners of public works, from the
sponsors to the contractors, from the contractors to the
workers and to the material manufacturers, and so on down
the line, might have been easy to observe. Such, however,
was not the case. Workers in factories making materials
had no way of knowing that their wages were paid in PWA
dollars. Brakemen and handlers on railroad lines shipping
materials had no way of knowing that their wages were paid
in PWA dollars. There was no simple way of determining
what was happening to PWA dollars.
YARDSTICK FOR INVESTMENT
PWA, therefore, turned to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
of the Department of Labor, an agency with a long-estab-
lished reputation for recording the facts with regard to con-
struction and employment, to make a study of the situation.
A substantial part of that study has been completed. PWA
can now tell for any one project or for any number of projects
the number of man-hours of employment and the amount of
wages provided directly at the site and indirectly in industries
supplying materials, and other important data. And these
figures can be used as a guide to future investment.
The study of the Bureau of Labor Statistics was based on
records showing the disbursement of PWA dollars. Each of
these dollars that was used for a non-Federal project was
made up of 45 cents from the Federal Treasury, and 55 cents
which came from the local government. 1 In the actual
building operations, the private contractors who performed
the work were the first to share in the disbursement of these
dollars. The contractors submitted a certified copy of their
pay rolls to the local sponsor, who in turn submitted it to the
PWA engineer on the job. This statement showed the
number of men employed on the construction site, how long
each worked and how much each was paid. The contractors
also submitted material orders, showing how much materials
had been used, where they came from, and how much they cost.
So the record began with the second shovelful of earth
turned on each project (usually some local official turned the
first shovelful gratis). This showed the visible employment
the jobs given to the bricklayers, day laborers, riggers, stone
masons, carpenters, plumbers, cement finishers, truck drivers
and all the technical, skilled, and unskilled men which a
public-works program calls into action.
To obtain the complete record of this one phase of employ-
ment, the contractors' pay roll forms for each of the thousands
of PWA projects throughout the country were passed along
and were neatly stacked in the Department of Labor. Each
sheet was fed into the receiving end of a huge electric calcu-
lating machine to be ejected as a small, punched card, looking
something like a well-worn meal ticket, which in a way it was,
for it had recorded the meals of millions of American citizens
throughout the Nation.
These cards were then fed one by one into another machine,
and out of the far end of that machine came the constantly
rising total of man-hours of employment on each site and the
total sum spent there.
As of March i, 1939, that figure had reached the grand
of work at the sites and represented in wages a total of
paid at the construction sites.
1 In the first PWA program (NIRA) the ratio was 30 percent of the cost of labor and
materials, and 70 percent loan.
While these are sizable figures, they represent, respectively,
only about one-quarter of the total employment created by
the public-works program, and about one-third of the total
PWA-recovery dollars. Out of the average dollar which
goes for labor and materials, 35.8 cents went for labor at the
site, while 64.2 cents went for materials. Of course, this ratio
varied with the type of construction. In the case of naval
construction, for example, as much as 48 percent went for
labor at the site, while in the case of railroad shop work, as
little as 25 percent went directly to labor at the site. These
men received the regular wages prevailing in private industry
for the kind of work they were doing. Their wages varied
from an average of 50 cents an hour on public-road jobs to an
average of 87 cents an hour on building-construction jobs.
The dollars placed in the pay envelopes of the carpenters,
plumbers, riveters, and other members of 307 different skilled
trades, as well as in those of the many classes of unskilled
workers, were used to buy goods and services. They started
to generate demands which multiplied the real recovery
effected by PWA.
DISTRIBUTION OF DOLLARS
The Bureau of Labor Statistics traced these dollars, undis-
tinguished by marks from millions of others, beyond the pocket
of the army of laborers working for contractors on PWA
construction sites. The Bureau estimated that, for the
Nation as a whole, the average PWA wage dollar is distrib-
uted approximately as follows:
32 cents goes to the local grocers for food.
1 6 cents goes to the landlord for rent.
12 cents goes for household operation.
1 1 cents goes to buy clothing.
9 cents goes for transportation.
4 cents goes for medical care.
4 cents goes for furniture and other equipment.
5 cents goes for amusements.
7 cents goes for other expenses (gifts, taxes, savings,
education, reading, etc.).
PAY ROLL AND MATERIAL ORDERS
TYPE OF PROJECT
WAGES AT SITE
WATER AND SEWAGE
ROADS AND STREETS
RIVER, HARBOR WORK
EACH SYMBOL REPRESENTS 10% OF TOTAL SPENT FOR
WAGES AND MATERIALS AT THE SITE OF CONSTRUCTION
Of course, this money circulates around the town, and helps
the grocer pay his clerks, who pay their doctors' bills, who pay
the garage men, and so on and on. This transfer of money is ^
labeled "business." When the transfer is fairly rapid, busi-
ness is good, and there is recovery. And when a PWA project
is being built, a lot of new pay envelopes are filled, and then
emptied into the community, and that speeds up business.
In studying the distribution of PWA wages for consumers'
goods, the Bureau of Labor Statistics based its estimates on
data obtained from a long series of studies on the cost of liv-
ing in various American cities. The Bureau found that the
distribution of consumer income varied in different sections
of the country, and to a lesser degree between different cities
within a given region.
Topeka, the capital city of Kansas, is one of the cities which
has participated in the public works program. The board of
education, for example, cooperated with PWA in construct-
ing several school projects, among which was the new East
Side Junior High School. This school is a two-story, fire-
proof, brick structure with a decorative tower, and contains a
library, clinic, shops and auditorium and gymnasium as well
as classrooms. The construction cost of the building (exclud-
ing land and other items not part of actual building costs)
amounted to $310,000. The workmen and clerical and super-
visory personnel at the site of the project received in wages
386,735. On the basis of the Bureau's studies of workers'
expenditures, the Bureau estimated that the workmen spent
their PWA dollars approximately as follows:
They spent $30,800 for food.
They spent $11,275 f r rent.
They spent $11,540 for household operation.
They spent $8,500 for clothing.
They spent $7,025 for transportation.
They spent $4,080 for medical care.
They spent $2,775 f r household equipment.
They spent $1,990 for amusements.
They used $8,750 for other expenses, gifts, education,
insurance, taxes, and savings.
The creation of pay rolls, because of this direct employ-
ment, had obvious secondary benefits. Workers previously
without jobs used their pay checks to purchase many items
long denied their families new clothing, new furniture and
household equipment, and dental care. Buying power was
put into motion.
All such purchases, wherever made, have a direct effect on
merchants. If their business improves measurably, their
shelves are cleared of old stocks, new goods can be ordered,
and additional help may be employed. Some of these pur-
chases would have been made anyhow, for if these workers
were unemployed they would still receive from relief funds or
other sources enough to buy the bare necessities. But the
workers on PWA projects buy beyond subsistence needs, and
in that way create a substantial increase in purchasing power.
This greater purchasing power reflects itself in increased em-
ployment in the retail and wholesale trades, the home-build-
ing field, and in industries making automobiles, radios, fur-
niture, refrigerators, and other quasi-durable goods, as well as
those producing so-called consumers' goods.
Up to this point, only one-third of the PWA-recovery dol-
lar has been accounted for. The Bureau also studied the ef-
fects of the other two-thirds. The East Side Junior High
School in Topeka may again serve to illustrate the findings
which the Bureau made.
MONEY FOR MATERIALS
The cost of materials for the school amounted to a little
more than $170,000, or about two-thirds of the total bill for
labor and materials. This ratio was the same as that which
was found to be true for all nonresidential building construc-
tion throughout the Nation. The money went for a great
variety of materials brick and tile, lumber and millwork,
iron and steel products, cement and concrete products,
heating and ventilating materials, plumbing materials and
electrical goods, sand and gravel and the like.
The record showed that approximately $70,000, or about
one-fourth of the total construction cost, was spent on mate-
rials right in Topeka. One bill, for example, was for $5,809
worth of sand and gravel purchased from a nearby producer.
Out of this, the firm that received the order was able to use
a portion toward meeting the cost of maintaining his plant,
making repairs, and paying salesmen, insurance and taxes;
and to pay the wages of its workers and the men who trucked
the materials to the site. Another bill, amounting to $26,-
283, was for bricks and other clay products, and this order
also went to a nearby producer, where more men were em-
ployed. Other material orders, necessary to supply a sub-
stantial share of the supplies needed at the site, also went to
local or nearby dealers and producers.
The result of all these local orders was to increase the
purchasing power in Topeka by many additional thousands
of dollars. The profits made by the material supply dealers
and producers, and the wages paid their employees for pro-
ducing and shipping the goods, found their way in large part
to the cash registers and tills of local merchants, and provided
the community with an increase in business volume that
might not have been achieved otherwise.
But Topeka, like all other cities, does not produce every-
thing it needs. Other supplies for construction of the school
had to come from other industrial areas, sometimes from
considerable distances. There were, for example, such
items as $11,341 worth of electrical goods that may have
come from Pittsburgh or Schenectady. And in order to
produce these products, the manufacturers in Pittsburgh or
Schenectady may have had to obtain copper from the Far
West, and insulating cotton from the deep South, and steel
tubing from the Midwest. Consequently, a share of the
PWA dollar found its way to each of these regions, where the
producers in like manner used the money to pay for raw
materials, to pay the wages of workers, to pay for transpor-
tation, overhead, taxes, and set a portion aside for surplus or
WIDESPREAD SOURCE OF MATERIALS
FOR A PWA PROJECT
R o o fin g
G r a vet
Mill 1 1 HIM
Valves and Fitti
' Electric Motors
< E levator Doors
Structural Steel Sheet Metal
Sheet Copper Boilers
Wrought Iron Pipe
Electrical Goods Glass
Coppery Pipe 'Structural
profit. The net result was that the construction of a school
building in Topeka, Kans., brought wages, profits, and in-
creased business volume to communities hundreds of miles
away from the site of construction.
This widespread distribution of material orders has taken
place on every PWA project. The construction of Grand
Coulee Dam, in the State of Washington, has thus far called
for the shipment of materials from 46 of the 48 States of the
Union. The construction of the Alameda County Court-
house in Oakland, Calif., required materials that were manu-
factured in 1 8 States, ranging from the home State to as far
east as Massachusetts and Rhode Island. To realize the
full effect of the distribution of PWA dollars, one must add
together the material orders for nearly 34,500 projects.
To determine the total amount of supplies, the Bureau of
Labor Statistics turned to the records of material orders which
showed how much of each type of material was used, from
whom the materials were purchased, and how much they
cost. These records were made into punchcards, similar to
the ones made for direct employment and wages, and these
cards were duly fed to the huge calculating machines. Year
after year, these machines hummed on, and on March I, 1939,
the machines showed that PWA projects had called for a total of
$2,174,833,431 worth of materials
proving that the public works program had turned out to be
the Nation's best customer for almost all types of heavy
industry. Iron and steel products, machinery, and cement
and concrete products led the list of materials specified for the
projects. (A complete list of the major types of materials
purchased may be found in table 2, in the appendix.)
AIDS To INDUSTRY
In the early years of the public works program, when the
Nation was just beginning to recover from the depression
slump, PWA material orders were equivalent to as much as
three-fourths of the total output in some industries. In 1934,
for example, PWA orders amounted to a ratio of 74 percent of
the entire output of cement for that year, almost 40 percent
of the total output of fabricated structural and reinforcing
steel, 35 percent of the total production of cast-iron pipe and
fittings, and 38 percent of the total commercial production of
sand and gravel. As recovery continued, these percentages
generally declined, but for 1938, the ratio of PWA orders for
structural and reinforcing steel alone amounted to almost
one-fifth of the industrial production, and while recovery
took place in many industries, a general survey indicates that
the sharpest increases took place in the lines of business
supplying public works projects.
Materials purchased for PWA construction projects
Ratio of orders to total production 1934-37 1
Type of material
Brick and hollow tile
Structural and reinforcing steel
Cast-iron pipe and fittings
Sand and gravel
Estimates for cast-iron pipe and for structural and reinforcing steel from data supplied
by National Resources Committee; all others from Bureau of Labor Statistics.
1 PWA orders include certain distribution costs.
2 PWA expenditures curtailed.
After the Bureau had obtained the total value of materials
purchased, several questions arose. How many man-hours
of work did it require to produce these materials ? In other
words, what was the total of such indirect employment
created by PWA? And so, to obtain the answer, the Bureau
looked down the long lists of material orders on hand, and for
the selected industries made comprehensive studies of the
man-hours required to produce and distribute units of these
materials. In order successfully to complete these studies,
the Bureau sent representatives to the manufacturers in these
industries and from their records determined how many man-
hours of work were required to produce a given amount of
structural steel, cement, lumber, brick, plumbing supplies,
electrical equipment and supplies, sand and gravel, and so on
down the line of materials.
In these industries, the Bureau traced the various steps
required in the manufacture and distribution of the products
that went into the public works from the project to the
dealer, from the dealer to the manufacturer, from the manu-
facturer to the producer of the raw materials back to the
ultimate source in the mines where the ore was dug, and to
lumber camps where trees were felled. At the same time, a
survey was made of the amount of employment created in
transporting the various materials to the sites of construction.
Through all this research, the Bureau determined that the
indirect employment created by PWA material orders
amounted (as of March I, 1939) to approximately
In other words, for every 2 hours of work created at the
construction site of a local project, 5 hours of work were
generated in factories, plants, and mills manufacturing ma-
terials, and on transportation lines shipping the supplies to
the site. This ratio of 2 to 5 was a factor that had long been
indeterminate and had been the matter of conjecture on the
part of economists for many years.
By adding the total number of man-hours of indirect em-
ployment to that of direct employment which had been
SPREAD OF CONSTRUCTION DOLLARS
|l SO, 000.
CEMENT AND CONCRETE
LUMBER, WOOD PRODUCTS
SAND AND GRAVEL
MASONRY, CLAY PRODUCTS
PLUMBING, HEATING EQUB?
i4i v 60o.
previously obtained, the Bureau determined that, as of
March i, 1939, PWA had provided a total of 4,894,000,000
man-hours of primary employment. For this figure to have
any value to the Government for future planning, it was
necessary, however, to determine not only the total, but to
obtain a yardstick which would measure the amount of
employment for every different major type of construc-
tion. It was found that each million dollars of expendi-
tures should create the following number of man-hours of
Type of project
Streets and roads _ _ _
, 143, 700
, 137 900
, 080, 000
, 046, 800
, 025, 000
, 024, 500
Diesel power and light
Steam power and light _ _ _
This study also showed the amount of material each indus-
try could be expected to furnish for every million dollars'
worth of contracts awarded for various types of construction
(see table 3 in the appendix), and the number of man-hours
of employment each industry would provide in producing
materials for every type of construction. For example, in
the case of a nonresidential building costing $1,000,000 to
erect, 1,001,000 man-hours of employment would be created,
of which 657,000 would be indirect. The latter figure would
be made up of the following: 202,700 in the industries fabri-
cating iron and steel products; 51,900 in the lumber mills and
camps; 37,800 in the brickyards; 31,000 in the sand and gravel
pits; 28,800 in the plants making heating and ventilating
supplies; 27,000 in the factories making electrical equipment;
25,700 in the cement mills; 21,900 in the plumbing supply
factories; and 230,200 in other industries for fabrication,
transportation, and administration.
THROUGH PRIVATE ENTERPRISE
All of these men, who have been given work as a result of
PWA contract awards, have worked, not for the Government,
but for private enterprise at prevailing wages and under
working conditions common to American workmen.
In making these studies for PWA, the Bureau of Labor
Statistics also learned that a substantial portion of the funds
invested in public works has resulted in profits to private
enterprise and in an inestimable number of instances has
contributed to the ability of individual firms to remain in
business. When this factor is also taken into consideration,
it is obvious that the public works program has increased the
volume of business and the national income by a substantial
There are other factors which are essential to an under-
standing of the full effect of the public works program. How
much work was generated as a result of wages earned by men
working directly or indirectly for PWA projects? How
much work was generated as a result of expenditures of pay
rolls created by the purchase of durable goods, such as steam
shovels, lathes, ventilation motors, and machines ordered by
contractors and manufacturers who filled PWA orders?
As yet, there is no complete measure for this type of em-
ployment. Perhaps, further studies will provide the answers
to these questions also.
But the surveys so far completed have yielded a practical
yardstick for the future. Six years ago, facing a crisis in
the national economy, PWA had to start without any
definite knowledge as to what its investments in public
works would mean in terms of employment, wages, and
material orders for industry. Today, however, the Govern-
ment can estimate with accuracy the returns it may expect
from expenditures for all kinds of public works. And in the
future, it can utilize this knowledge to aim directly at its
IT IS no simple task to build
34,500 public works across 3
million square miles of America, to provide millions of man-
hours of work in private industry in depression times. The
building up of the greatest construction agency of modern
times is a story of pioneering noteworthy in itself. It is the
story of transforming a 6,ooo-word law of Congress into an
organization that has affected 130 million Americans in their
Tried and tested by 6 years of service, the PWA organiza-
tion is made up of a group of seasoned technical experts plus
a force of stenographers and clerks at work in every section
of the country and in the Islands and Territories.
But this organization did not arise phoenixlike from the
ashes of a depression. Starting with 39 men, serving without
pay, in the black days of 1933, it has been built up gradually
and painstakingly over a period of years.
PWA started as several pages of paper unemotionally
labeled Title II of H. R. 5755.*
That act of Congress said: To effectuate public works and
construction projects the President is authorized to create a
Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works all powers
of which are to be exercised by an administrator.
Not long after signing that bill the President called in
Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, and appointed him
Administrator of Public Works.
It was as simple as that. One man said to another, "You are
to be Public Works Administrator." With the appointment
went the responsibility of overseeing the honest and efficient
expenditure of billions of dollars to help bring about recovery.
There was no time then to reflect on the magnitude of the
task. It called for action and immediate action. It called
for courage as well as caution.
Congress had laid down the broad outlines in the law.
That is all it could do. That is all the Constitutional Con-
vention could do back in 1787, when it wrote the Constitution
and left to early Executives and Congress the task of creating
a government and making it work.
The first job was to collect a staff. It required executives
who could think clearly and act quickly and who would be
right. It required men who would be willing to work long
hours for the low wages which the Government could pay,
and stand the abuse that is often heaped on the heads of
those who hold public office.
Some of the ablest technical men in the country volun-
teered. They were men on whose judgment the Administra-
1 Title I of the act provided for the establishment of the NRA. For complete powers of
PWA see Principal Acts and Executive Orders Pertaining to the Public Works Administration,
Government Printing Office, Washington, July 1938.
tor could depend. They made up the board of strategy to
guide the course of battle against the depression.
They brought other men with them engineers who had
built world-famous bridges, lawyers who had guided the
destinies of great corporations, young men who wanted to
devote themselves to Government service, and old hands at
finance, who saw an opportunity to contribute to the welfare
of the Nation.
There was plenty of work. There were a thousand ques-
tions to be answered, and a hundred possible answers to each
question, but there was no time for fine philosophical dis-
cussion. The problems of the moment called for practical
and speedy solution. Millions of unemployed people were
tired of waiting for "prosperity to come around the corner."
They wanted jobs. They wanted jobs in private industry.
The law outlined the first task with the statement that,
The Administrator * * shall prepare a comprehensive
program of public works. The law went on to describe
public works as the construction and repair of public high-
ways and parkways, and public buildings; the conserva-
tion and development of natural resources including the
control, utilization, and purification of waters; prevention of
soil or coastal erosion; development of water power; trans-
mission of electrical energy; and construction of river and
harbor improvements and flood control; and also the con-
struction of any river or drainage improvement; construction,
reconstruction, alteration, or repair under public regulation
or control of low-cost housing and slum-clearance projects.
And just to make sure, Congress added, Any projects of the
character heretofore constructed or carried on either directly
by public authority or with public aid to serve the interests
of the general public.
The Administrator and his staff went to work. In a short
time they established the criteria that PWA was to follow,
without deviation, up to the present.
These were the yardsticks by which an application of the
local community was measured :
1. The social desirability of the project and its relation to coordinated
2. Its economic desirability; that is, its relation to unemployment and
the revival of industry.
3. The soundness of the project from engineering and technical stand-
4. The financial ability of the applicant to complete the work and
"reasonably secure" any loans by the United States.
5. The legal collectibility of the securities to be purchased or the
enforceability of any lease entered into.
The nucleus of men started to sort out the available projects
according to this formula. In each State a board of out-
standing persons was drafted to advise on local projects to be
presented. But municipalities were unprepared. The ex-
pected rush of sound applications failed to materialize.
Projects were just being thought of. But thoughts were
not enough at the moment. Construction had to be started;
men had to be put to work.
The Federal Government, however, was ready. The
Federal Employment Stabilization Board, created in 1931,
had laid out a 6-year program of construction. Many
projects had been planned, and the Congress had in many
instances already given authorization. But no funds had
been available. The act, however, took cognizance of these
works. It set aside funds for use of various bureaus. For
example the law stated: For the purpose of providing for
emergency construction of highways * * * to make grants
* * * $400,000,000 in accordance with the provisions of
the Federal Highway Act approved November 9, 1931. The
Bureau of Public Roads of the Department of Agriculture,
which had supervised road construction for 20 years, and
had supplanted the chaos of independent unconnected roads
with uniform highways, could put such construction into
high gear at once through the highway departments of the
The President, under authority to construct, finance
* * * projects included in the program ordered 2 that
this sum specified in the law be set aside for public roads at
once, and also transferred $238,000,000 to the Navy Depart-
ment "for construction of certain vessels." Later, other
Federal allocations of funds were made.
THE NON-FEDERAL PROGRAM
That was the start. The real test of PWA was still ahead.
The PWA law posed the problem in a few simple words:
With a view to increasing employment quickly (while reasonably
securing any loans made by the United States) * to
make grants to the States and municipalities or other public
bodies for such projects, but no such grant shall be in excess of
30 percent of the cost of labor and materials.
There had been no precedent to guide a partnership of
national and local governments on such a great scale.
Bound by antiquated legal safeguards, most communities
could not immediately undertake the necessary construction.
In reply to appeals for aid from a hundred fronts, the Admin-
istrator dispatched PWA lawyers to help work out new laws,
codify, speed the process up so men could go to work. Courts
were asked to test the powers of these new laws, to clear the
way for construction that would follow.
The collapse of municipal credit provided another stum-
bling block. PWA's financial experts advised, consulted,
devised new methods of financing. They laid a firmer
groundwork on which to build the program. In doing this,
the way was paved for reforms in the cumbersome financial
set-up of many of the Nation's municipalities, and they put
the tremendous resources of PWA's lending power at the
With legal and financial powers clarified in more and more
communities, the offices of the 48 PWA State engineers were
flooded with applications for aid. A school board tele-
graphed for a new building "so that children now attending
classes in an abandoned coal bin may be decently housed."
A mayor appealed for "immediate aid for a new water system
2 Executive Order No. 6174, June 16, 1933.
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to cut appalling death rate from water-borne disease."
Along with such requests came the demands of visionaries-
plans for hiring 10,000 men to kill corporeal snakes, plans for
building and operating rockets to the moon, plans for floating
platforms to bridge the oceans, plans for building moving
sidewalks to carry itinerant Americans at a dignified pace
from coast to coast. Each project was matched against the
criteria set up by the Administrator.
Even after such obviously ridiculous proposals were weeded
out, funds were not available for all applicants. Allotments
were made on the basis of the social desirability of the under-
taking, of the employment need of the community, and
according to population.
The President and the Administrator passed final judgment
on the reports of their technical experts. Every proposal
came up for discussion. Those that best suited the needs,
those that contributed most to the Nation's hard-hit economy
were chosen. Allotments were made. 3 Contracts were
drawn up. PWA was ready to put the Nation to work.
A POLICY FOR LABOR
A fair labor policy was immediately needed. The law
laid down the basis, saying, All contracts let for construction
projects shall * * * contain provisions * * * so far as
practicable * * * no individual shall 'work more than 30
hours in any 1 week, and all employees shall be paid just and
reasonable wages * * * sufficient to provide * * * living
in decency and comfort * *.
PWA amplified this, establishing the following policies:
1. Opportunities for employment shall be equitably distributed among
the qualified workers who are unemployed, not among those who
merely wish to change one good job for another.
2. Opportunities shall be distributed geographically as widely and as
equitably as possible.
3 Because municipalities were unprepared to put men to work immediately an allotment
of $400,000,000 was made to the Civil Works Administration to tide the unemployed over
the severe winter of 1933-34-
3- Qualified workers who, under the law are entitled to preference,
shall be given such preference.
4. The wastefulness and personal disappointments resulting from unwar-
ranted migration of labor in quest of work shall be avoided.
5. Local labor shall, so far as practicable, be selected from lists of
qualified workers submitted by local employment agencies desig-
nated by the United States Employment Service. Organized labor
shall not be required to register for work at such agencies, but may be
secured in the customary way through recognized trade union locals.
6. No convict labor shall be employed.
The contracts let, men were ready to go to work. Some-
body had to see that it was done properly, according to speci-
fications, see that 100 cents value was delivered for every
dollar spent, that there was no chiseling on the Nation's
As the projects were built by local authorities, local
inspectors were, of course, required. But the tradition of lax
local inspection was intrenched in American practice. Too
often local inspectors winked at substandard materials or
wage "kick-backs." The practice had grown to be accepted
in a number of communities.
PWA, however, had decided that steps and measures should
be taken to protect the Federal Government's interest, and a
resident engineer was assigned to each project. He was the
direct liaison between the Federal Government and the local
authorities. He was instructed to be of service to the local
authorities, and to see that no halts occurred that would
throw men out of work.
During the early policy-forming period, PWA's staff was
largely concentrated in Washington, where it could be
developed under the watchful eye of the Administrator. But
as more projects got under way, an increasing portion of the
work could best be done in the field. When there were more
experienced men available at headquarters, it was possible to
decentralize the organization.
While the so-called non-Federal program was starting
there were certain highly specialized tasks that had to be
performed. For example, the law authorized: The construc-
tion, reconstruction, alteration, or repair under public regula-
tion and control of low-cost housing and slum-clearance projects.
This was a wholly new problem in this Nation. There was
no local authority capable of carrying on this work. The
Administrator set up a semi-autonomous housing division to
start this work.
PWA also was called on to help private industry directly by
refurbishing the Nation's railroads and a clause in the act
stated : * * * to aid in the financing of such railroad main-
tenance and equipment * * *. A railroad division was set
up to make loans to help the hard-pressed carriers buy
modern rolling stock and certain improvements.
In addition, the law specified a program for: '* * * the
development of water power, transmission of electrical energy.
The unique problems of constructing public power projects
involved so much controversy that a special power division
was set up. This division struggled with the involved tech-
nical problems that attended the efforts of the Nation and
its communities to build their own public utilities.
How good were the chances for graft? The economic
welfare of millions of people depended on the proper use of
the billions of dollars involved in this program. The Ad-
ministrator was determined that public works could be
carried on without the traditional graft and waste. He
decided that PWA, like Caesar's wife, should be above re-
proach. An investigations division, responsible only to the
Administrator, enforced the rigid code of PWA standards of
honesty. A few malefactors behind bars evidenced that
PWA was in earnest. At the cost of occasional delays, the
fight for this ideal of honesty in public works was won.
MECHANICS OF EXPENDITURES
While the battle for honesty was going on, the Adminis-
trator faced a horde of critics who complained that the
money was not being spent fast enough. These complaints
were based on Treasury statements of PWA disbursements.
The Administrator pointed out that Treasury statements
of PWA expenditures lag a long way behind actual wages
paid and materials manufactured. If the critics had bothered
to look into the. matter, they would have found that the
movement of funds generally takes place somewhat as follows :
The contractor, who is awarded the job, frequently borrows
from the bank or other credit source to finance his operations.
From such funds he pays his men. The community then
repays the contractor generally once a month. Later, after
an auditor has checked the books and found everything in
order, PWA repays the community.
Thus it may be a month or months after the worker took
his pay envelope home to buy a week's groceries, before the
Treasury issued a check that made that pay envelope possible.
Meanwhile, money had been put into circulation and business
had received its stimulus far ahead of the time the Treasury
check was cashed and the Treasury statement made public.
Of course, the organization of PWA was never static.
From the time it started, it evolved, refined, expanded here
and contracted there, adapting itself to changing needs.
PUBLIC WORKS ADMINISTRATION
By 1935 the advantages of this new type of recovery agency
were so apparent that Congress extended its life, sending to
the President a bill To increase employment by providing for
useful projects * * * loans and grants * * * $900,000,000.
Under this emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, the
amount of the outright Federal grant was increased by
Executive order to 45 percent of the total cost of the project,
instead of "30 percent of the cost of labor and materials" as
under the first program. The increase provided for architects
and engineers, the cost of necessary land, legal and adminis-
trative fees. In operation it meant better planned and better
executed projects. More communities were able to partici-
pate in the recovery program.
Congress made no mention of wage rates to be paid by the
contractors under this law. The President, however, issued
an order that "customary local rates for all trades and
occupations" be paid. This started PWA's policy of pre-
vailing wage rates on all projects.
Congress called upon PWA again in 1936, authorizing it to
use $300,000,000 from funds already on hand or to be raised
from the sale of securities purchased under previous programs.
PWA approved allotments of $179,642,771 under this act.
This law was the first one to put public works on a "time-
table," stating, * * * no part * * * shall be granted
for any project unless * * * completion thereof can be sub-
stantially accomplished prior to July 1, 1938.
From the very start PWA has been thought of as a recovery
agency. In an experiment to make PWA a relief agency
instead of a recovery agency, some grants were made on the
cost of relief labor employed plus 15 or 33% percent, as long
as the total grant did not exceed 45 percent. This did not
work. In the case of the north tube of the Lincoln Tunnel
in New York, for example, the criterion of being on relief
did not prove the best method of selecting men for the diffi-
cult "sand hog" jobs. The same was true of other highly
In 1937 Congress appropriated $144,695,914 under the
PWA Extension Act, which specified July i, 1939, as the date
for completion of the projects. The act also specified that
the organization which had carried on the program was to be
liquidated. Personnel was drastically cut. The former
State offices were regrouped into the present seven regional
offices as a matter of economy. The virtual suspension of
PWA recovery funds in 1937 proved to be too sudden.
As a result, Congress put the problem of reversing the
downward spiral to PWA. On June 21, 1938, the President
signed the law calling on PWA to supervise the expenditure
of $965,000,000. Confidence that PWA was prepared for
the job was expressed in the clause: No funds appropriated
* * * j or an y p ro j ec t * * * which cannot be com-
menced prior to January 1, 1939, or the completion accomplished
prior to June 30, 1940. This was the greatest construction
program ever undertaken in such a short time.
In liquidation when the law passed, PWA personnel was
down to a nuclear basis. But that nucleus of 3,700 was able,
experienced, trained down to a fine point. Without the ex-
perienced, trained personnel it would have been impossible to
expand the force to a point necessary to review 20,000 appli-
cations, make 7,000 allotments, and get men to work on these
projects in 187 working days.
But on December 27 the Administrator wrote: "My dear
Mr. President: I am happy to report the program is on
schedule. Six thousand one hundred and eighty projects are
under way." PWA had met the challenge. It had done the
job, and in doing so had demonstrated the value of a smooth-
Today, as then, the work of that organization starts and
ends with the engineer on the construction site. He is the
man on the firing line, the man who sees to it that the policies
of a Nation-wide public works program are carried out, that
projects are well built, and that the contractors, workmen on
the job, and the material manufacturers receive equitable
pay for honest work performed.
He is linked to one of the seven 4 regional offices by a
traveling engineer responsible for the smooth running of a
score or more projects. The regional offices are complete
miniature organizations of consulting engineers, lawyers,
auditors, financial experts all of these under the supervision
of regional directors who coordinate the construction program
over a group of States.
Behind these officers, acting as a final board of review,
setting up basic policy, keeping the program on an even keel,
stands the central office in Washington. Here, 15 major
divisions prepare decisions for the Administrator's final action.
Among these are three technical sections : First, there is a group
of engineers who review the applications of local communities
and the recommendations of the engineers in PWA's regional
offices; second, a group of legal experts who check the powers
of the community to build projects; and third, a group of
financial experts who aid local authorities to raise money, and
arrange loans where necessary. The reports of these techni-
cal sections are condensed and analyzed by an administrative
nucleus which matches the desirability of each project
against other applications, and reports to the Administrator
who recommends to the President what allotments shall be
The Administrator's assistant on labor relations helps to
determine the wage rates that the contractors' men will be
paid on the job. A division of investigations, responsible
only to the Administrator, checks any allegations of graft or
waste. A committee certifies to the Administrator the
amount of grant earned by each community for work com-
pleted under the recovery program.
There are also groups of advisers who aid the Administra-
tor in handling special problems. There is a division which
aids local authorities in constructing publicly owned utility
plants and advises the Administrator on power policy. An-
4 New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Omaha, Fort Worth, San Francisco, Portland. See map.
other section passes on the eligibility of other Federal agen-
cies for PWA funds, which have been set aside by Congress
for the construction of Federal projects. There are several
groups of specialists who aid the Administrator in settling
any labor disputes which may possibly arise. A statistical
division keeps check on the general progress of the program,
and an information section keeps the contractors, the indus-
tries, the communities, and the public informed on all actions
of PWA which affect the recovery program.
That is the organization that has carried on American
democracy's answer to the economic crisis. It is the group
which has carried out the Nation's first-planned public works
program and has kept men at work.
The organization has made possible more than the erection
of a multitude of useful and desirable structures and the
creation of millions of man-hours of work, with honesty and
efficiency. It has also, coincidentally, made possible notable
contributions in the fields of municipal finance and law, and
in the improvement of engineering and construction practices.
THE NEW ALAMEDA COUNTY COURTHOUSE AT OAKLAND, CALIF., WHICH
CONTAINS COUNTY OFFICES, A LAW LIBRARY, AND THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY S
OFFICE AS WELL AS NUMEROUS COURTROOMS. THE STRUCTURE WAS
COMPLETED IN 1936
THE American Nation consists of a
Federal Government, 48 Sovereign
States, 3,071 counties, 24,734 cities, towns, and villages, about
127,000 school districts and upward of 100,000 other duly
constituted public bodies such as sewer and water commis-
sions, irrigation districts, bridge commissions, and similar
Most of these thousands of government bodies are con-
trolled by a Federal and State constitution and a variety of
charters granted by the State government; and, in addition,
most of them are governed by their own local laws. Each
year new situations have arisen calling for new laws to deal
with them. These situations are usually met, but the laws
enacted to cope with them remain in force, embodied in the
statute books that grace any law office. One result of this is
that the people of today still are governed by many laws
eminently suited to customs and needs of the middle nine-
teenth century. Another result: Even Caspar Milquetoast,
the epitome of civic virtue and integrity, cannot get out of
bed and go to work each day without breaking a round dozen
of the thousands of laws governing the citizen's daily life.
When Congress appropriated $3,300,000,000 to aid the local
governments to put men back to work, it created a new situa-
tion. The communities needed the money for the projects,
the men needed the work, the Federal Government was ready
to help, but the majority of the local governments found
themselves in a morass of "left-over" laws that prevented
them from immediate participation.
It seemed that years might pass before the muncipalities
could go through the stereotyped and frequently obsolete steps-
of the legal ballet necessary to enable many of them to coop-
erate in the public works program. In order to expedite
action, PWA undertook to aid communities, at their request,
to "find a clear legal path out of the jungle of contradictory
PWA lawyers worked with local lawyers, reviewing, dis-
cussing, drafting, and suggesting. Communities needed
broader legal powers to help themselves. Disheartening,
time-consuming legal impediments had to be eliminated.
The whole legal procedure had to be shortened. Before long,
concrete proposals took form.
Most of the Governors of the States were aware of the
problems. They cooperated, and called State legislatures
into special sessions. New laws were drafted and passed.
Authority was granted for work to begin. In New Mexico,
the legislature met in special session and enacted a new law
which would enable the State to overcome existing handicaps.
This act, typical of the new type of legislation, provided that,
Any municipality may issue and sell at private sale to the Federal
Government, bonds for the financing of any public works projects
* * *, may enter into agreements or contracts with the Federal
Government, and may do any and all other things necessary or advisable
in connection with any grant or loan of money by the Federal Govern-
ment in connection with any public works project, * * * and may
issue and sell at private sale to the Federal Government in connection
with any public works project notes, temporary bonds, interim certifi-
cates, or other negotiable instruments. * * *
The statute specifically exempted PWA projects from any
requirement of public elections other than as required by
the State Constitution:
notwithstanding the provisions of any general, special, or local law it
shall not be necessary for any governing board to submit to the people
any public-works project nor shall such public-works projects be subject
to vote at any election unless and to the extent submission or such
election is required by the constitution of the State of New Mexico.
* * * If the governing board shall determine to submit the author-
ization of any public- works project or the issuance of bonds therefor, or
the levying of a tax to pay such bonds, to vote at an election, whether or
not required by the constitution, such governing board may provide
for such vote on notice published in a newspaper circulating in the
municipality and posted in at least 10 conspicuous places on any day
at least 7 days prior to such election; and no other notice shall be required.
* * * The issuance of bonds * * * may be authorized by
resolution which may be finally adopted on the same day at which it
is introduced by a majority of all the members of the governing board;
and such resolution need not be published before becoming effective.
That statute operated to shorten the time, facilitate the
procedure, and remove many of the difficulties which usually
attended municipal bond issues in the State of New Mexico.
In a test suit, the supreme court of New Mexico acknowl-
edged the validity of that law. It recognized that its pur-
pose was to enable political subdivisions of the State to
avail themselves of the Federal Government's lending pro-
gram in aid of industrial and economic recovery, and to
suspend certain restrictions in the general law which would
unduly delay or prevent the exercise of the municipalities'
powers of borrowing.
This law did what was necessary, and did it very simply.
It provided that duly constituted public bodies could enter
into contracts with the Federal Government, and gave them
the power to issue necessary bonds to finance their share of
the project, and to begin work.
A score of States, alert to the necessities of those strenuous
days, similarly reorganized and accelerated the creaking
machinery which seemed inadequate to meet the emergency
situation. New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, Colorado,
Idaho, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland all
joined in this movement. Red tape and arbitrary delays
began to dissolve before the resolute attack of this new
type of legislation. The problem was not to evade the
laws, but to lop off antiquated and inconsequential restric-
tions, and this was done.
But even with this new-found authority the process was
slow and cumbersome in the communities. There remained
literally hundreds of steps necessary to issue local bonds
after the taxpayers had approved them. The ritual was
often confusing, and in many cases, the inadvertent omission
of a single step somewhere along the line might have made
the entire procedure illegal and the bonds therefore worth-
less, necessitating a new start. To handle these bond cases,
a special type of legal experience was required. Conse-
quently, the lawyers for many local governments consulted
PWA, and hundreds of communities, particularly the smaller
ones which were not able to afford full-time lawyers especially
versed in this field, appealed to PWA for legal aid.
PWA tackled the problem by devising bond procedures which
were widely applicable to the different States and their public
bodies. The governing body could start on page i of this
syllabus, debate and vote on local action, report the vote,
follow the outlined procedure through to the last page, and
thus take every step necessary to issue valid bonds for sale.
Every point had been anticipated. Legal snarls were dras-
tically cut. An energetic governing body could get through
the essential legal steps in a real businesslike way.
But in some States, the lawgivers of a bygone generation
legislated "too well." Instead of setting down simple, guid-
ing statements of fundamental principles, they wrote into
their constitutions highly restrictive provisions that made
every detail of a bond-issue procedure a stumbling block.
In the main, these solons intended not to be obstructive or
arbitrary; reflecting the spirit of their times, they merely
sought to protect taxpayers from outlandish extravagance.
In the South particularly, they were primarily interested in
preventing a recurrence of the wildcat public financing of the
carpetbagger and post-Civil-War days.
While this may have had a beneficial influence on the credit
of the States and their municipalities, it hampered the ability
of the States to make full use of their credit. And when the
contemporary public-works program was launched, these
constitutional provisions challenged the utmost ingenuity of
the legal profession. Because of the zeal of the Constitutional
Convention of 1877, the State of Georgia, for example, en-
joyed a high credit standing, but found its ability to share in
the emergency public-works program severely limited.
Other States were more or less hampered in the same way.
Consequently, a pathway had to be pioneered to enable the
Nation to go to work. PWA called the attention of the
States and their municipalities to the new-born concept of
the "public authority" (a special unit of government created
to perform municipal services) and the modern technique of
Buffalo, N. Y., was among the first cities to utilize the
public authority to solve a complex problem. For years
Buffalo has been pouring its sewage into the Niagara River,
the source of the drinking water supply of the towns beyond
the Falls. The State board of health ordered Buffalo to
cease and desist. Buffalo found that the cost of correcting
the situation would be $ 15,000,000. The State constitutional
debt limitation allowed it to raise only $6,000,000 by taxes.
No one doubted that Buffalo was financially able to raise
more, but the constitutional restriction admitted of no argu-
ment. Therefore, to meet the constitutional objection, it
raised the funds, not by additional taxes, but by setting up
an authority, similar to a business enterprise, which could
charge the public for services rendered.
It was an emergency. Buffalo lawyers, the Governor's
own counsel, and PWA lawyers sat down together, and drew
up a bill creating the Buffalo Sewer Authority. This au-
thority was designed as a public benefit corporation and was
empowered to build a sewage system to stop pollution of the
rivers. The authority was authorized "to issue bonds for
any of its corporate purposes." To repay those bonds, it was
empowered "to fix and collect rate rentals and other charges
for service * * * in accordance with * * * agree-
ments with holders of bonds." The bill also provided that
"the bonds * * * shall not be a debt of the State of
New York or of the city (of Buffalo) and neither the State
nor the city shall be liable thereon, nor shall they be payable
out of any funds other than those of the authority." 1 After
the bonds were paid off, the property was to be turned over to
the city without cost. The authority was completely sepa-
rated from the city government controlled by commis-
sioners who served without pay. The authority received a
$7,000,000 PWA grant, sold its bonds without trouble to
private investors, built the sewer, reduced pollution in the
river, and the once baffling problem was solved.
The creation of this and other authorities was not an
evasion of the law. It was the legal path for rendering an
essential service to the public which had in theory always
existed, but which merely had to be "discovered." As the
court stated in one case dealing with an authority, similar to
the Buffalo Sewer Authority and also organized in order to
obtain PWA aid: "It is never an illegal evasion to accomplish
1 See ch. 349 of the laws of New York, 1935, "An act creating the Buffalo Sewer
Authority * * *."
a desired result, lawful in itself, by discovering a legal way
to do it."
Laws creating authorities have been passed with PWA's co-
operation in New York, Texas, Minnesota, California, Penn-
sylvania, and many other States. Today authorities are
providing electric power; furnishing gas and water; operating
bridges, tunnels, schools, highways, and public institutions;
in fact, rendering nearly every service that a modern com-
munity must supply to its citizens. (Indeed there is even an
authority operating the sun and stars in New York City's
planetarium! 2 )
REVENUE BOND LEGISLATION
PWA assisted communities in developing and using another
legal process to enable existing bodies to finance projects
from the revenues they would derive by operating the proj-
ects. This legal process was the revenue bond; and PWA
rendered notable assistance in the framing of revenue bond
Under these acts, bonds may be issued which are payable
only from the net income of the project, and which are not
a debt of the public body issuing them, or of the municipality
or State. A water system demonstrates this principle.
Under the revenue bond system, each user pays for water
received; the householder for a small amount, the big industry
for a far larger amount. The public body renders its service
for a charge, just as a private business charges for its service.
Under the old system, the debt caused by constructing such
a project could be paid off only by means of a tax on all the
Hundreds of water systems and the like were built by means
funds obtained through the issuance of revenue bonds. 3
These are now being used throughout the Nation testi-
monials to the efficacy of this revenue bond procedure. Ken-
tucky needed new schools, but could not incur any new debts.
2 Not a PWA project.
3 An outline of the characteristic provisions of a revenue bond law may be found in the
appendix, preceding the tables.
That did the school children no good. However, cities and
counties could issue revenue bonds. They applied to PWA
for a loan and grant. They built the schools with such aid.
These schools were leased to the school districts, which paid
the rent out of school taxes, and the rent is paying off the
revenue bonds. The result is Kentucky children are going
to school in 276 modern, safe buildings, which they would
not have had otherwise.
The enormous value of these legal devices cannot be meas-
ured solely in terms of past PWA programs. Today they
enable communities to meet other current financial needs, as
well as to combat future economic crises.
It was obvious from the start that these new types of legis-
lation would have to be sustained in the courts if they were
to be worth the paper they were written on. Until the
courts upheld these new PWA laws, a citizen might drink
unconstitutional water, or cross an unconstitutional bridge,
or be operated on in an unconstitutional hospital. There-
fore, as soon as these new laws were passed, test suits were
started. And the local lawyers said to PWA's lawyers,
"You helped write these laws, now you can help defend
them." PWA welcomed these tests, so that the validity of
these measures would be clear.
Working side by side with local counsels in preparing the
cases, PWA lawyers rendered valuable aid in defending their
handiwork. Very few cases were decided against the new
laws. Those decisions which suggested changes were strictly
followed, and the changed procedures were duly tested in later
of the suits were test cases brought to establish a
clear legal basis for the bonds issued under the new laws.
However, in some cases the actions were far from friendly.
In fact they were definitely brought to hinder the program.
The climax came in the suits challenging the legality of PWA
itself. Almost all of these suits were started by the power
companies shortly after PWA made allotments for power
projects, and dragged on for 4 years before the Supreme
Court settled them once and for all. These suits spared no
time on small matters. They challenged the constitutionality
of PWA, the delegation of powers to the President and the
Administrator by Congress, the right of a public body to
build the project, and the right of a public utility to be free
from competition. A few of these suits involved gas or water
works, but the great majority were brought by power
Over 100 suits were brought in scores of courts. The
charges of unconstitutionality were similar in all of them.
Injunctions were granted with a unanimity that reflected the
legal philosophy of the time.
Of course, the injunctions brought work to a standstill.
Sixty million potential man-hours of desperately needed em-
ployment were tied up in the courts. Additional millions of
man-hours on construction sites and in the Nation's indus-
tries hung in the balance.
PWA lawyers went into action. Although the Depart-
ment of Justice actually defended the suits, and ably carried
on the 4-year legal battle, PWA bore the brunt of preparing
the cases. Up and down through the Federal courts the
battle raged. Test cases were selected from the scores avail-
able. On the outcome of these test suits, the future of the
Nation's recovery program rested. The case brought by the
Alabama Power Co. against Harold L. Ickes reached the
Supreme Court first on its merits, and it was this case which
decisively settled the matter.
The Alabama Power Co. claimed in a suit brought in the
District of Columbia courts:
1. The law creating PWA was unconstitutional.
2. Even if the court found the law constitutional the Administrator was
exceeding his power under it.
3. The Administrator was conspiring with municipalities to help them
build publicly owned plants unless the power companies reduced
4. If the plants were built, the power companies would be deprived of
their property without "due process of law."
The Administrator in his reply to the charges stated :
1. PWA was authorized by the Constitution which states "Congress
* * * may appropriate funds for the purpose of promoting the
general welfare * * *." PWA was being administered accord-
ing to the terms of the law.
2. The communities were authorized by State law to build the plants.
The Government made no distinction between power plants and any
other authorized project.
3. Since the cities had power to build and operate plants in competition
with the power companies, the companies had no standing in court
to question the source of the funds.
The Federal court of the District of Columbia granted a
preliminary injunction, but, after hearing the case, dismissed
the suit against the Administrator. That was back in 1935.
Undaunted, the power company tried the court of appeals.
That court reexamined the complaint, and decided that the
case should be sent back to the district court for trial.
In the meantime, the court of appeals granted an injunc-
tion. The district court again dismissed the case, and so the
power company tried the court of appeals a second time, but
this time the court of appeals also dismissed the case.
The power company did not give up. It appealed to the
United States Supreme Court to take an interest in the
company's plight. The Supreme Court heard the case in
December 1937. On the first decision day in 1938, on Janu-
ary 3, the Supreme Court settled the case for good and
all, on the ground that the power company had no legal right
to complain that the municipalities were receiving PWA aid.
Mr. Justice Sutherland who wrote the Court's opinion, said:
* * * these municipalities have the right under State law to engage
in the business in competition with petitioner, since it has been given no
exclusive franchise. If its business be curtailed or destroyed by the
operations of the municipalities, it will be by lawful competition from
which no legal wrong results.
John Doe, let us suppose, is engaged in operating a grocery store. Richard
Roe, desiring to open a rival and competing establishment, seeks a loan
from a manufacturing concern which, under its charter, is without
authority to make the loan. The loan, if made, will be ultra vires. The
State or a stockholder of the corporation, perhaps a creditor in some
circumstances, may, upon that ground, enjoin the loan. But may it be
enjoined at the suit of John Doe, a stranger to the corporation, because
the lawful use of the money will prove injurious to him and this result is
foreseen and expected both by the lender and the borrower, Richard Roe?
Certainly not, unless we are prepared to lay down the general rule that A,
who will suffer damage from the lawful act of B, and who plainly will have
no case against B, may nevertheless invoke judicial aid to restrain
a third party, acting without authority, from furnishing means which will
enable B to do what the law permits him to do. Such a rule would be
opposed to sound reason, as we have already tried to show, and cannot be
Every court of appeals had found the PWA law constitu-
tional, and the Supreme Court 4 did not even rule on that
point. There has been no further attack on this ground.
One by one the injunctions were dissolved, and by the end
of 1938, the communities which had been tied up in these
suits were proceeding with their projects. The PWA
defeated or successfully coped with every attempt to challenge
the validity of its work in this way.
In the meantime, while enabling legislation was being
perfected, PWA was faced with a tremendous task of legal
administration on works which were already under way.
Several billion dollars worth of projects had to be built in
accordance with the hundreds of thousands of laws appli-
cable to the thousands of legal bodies throughout the country.
And care had to be taken that every cent of that money
would go for the purpose for which it was intended by
From the time the application was first made, when PWA
had to determine whether the applicant legally was able to
build the project and issue the bonds, PWA's job was to see
that every legal safeguard was met, and to simplify and
codify the rules and regulations so that men could be em-
ployed expeditiously, lawfully, and justly.
PWA lawyers, in each of the regional offices, familiar with
4 At the same time the Supreme Court took parallel action in a similar case, that of
Greenwood County v. Duke Power Co.
local laws, were able to help communities with their legal
problems as fast as they arose, and oftentimes to ferret
them out before they arose, so that construction might flow
smoothly along its way. Under this phase of the work,
PWA drew up 16,697 agreements with the local governments,
helped to prepare 3,187 bond proceedings, reviewed 66,000
principal construction contracts, and checked all the legal
steps along the way, besides providing the legal basis for the
actual disbursements of funds by PWA disbursing officials.
As each new problem arose, detailed recommendations for
necessary changes in local legislation were made, so that the
same stumbling block would not hinder the program twice.
Over 1,000 drafts of local laws have been prepared by PWA,
and nearly 500 have been used as the basis for legislation.
The new laws and the standardized procedures with which
many a municipality is now familiar, enabled the PWA to
get under way in 1938 with record speed. The broader
scope of social service that a modern municipality gives to
its citizens is due in good part to the uses of the new tech-
niques such as the public authority and the revenue bond acts.
PWA has acted as a pioneer in the development of a new
field of enlarged municipal service. But the legal Utopia
has not been attained. To meet any future emergency with
minimum delay and with maximum success, local govern-
ments may have to continue to consider additional amend-
ments to various laws.
WHEN the factory in Anytown
closed and the workers lost their jobs,
things began to happen to the very life of the community.
The factory not only disappeared as the community's back-
bone of employment, but the workers, unable to pay the
taxes on their homes, deprived the community of revenue at
a time when it was most needed. As the depression deep-
ened, some of the workers forfeited their homes, and went to
other localities to search for employment. As a result,
property values in Anytown were further depressed and tax
income was lowered even more.
During such periods, virtually all communities "tighten
their belts," attempting to conserve their funds by various
operating economies. But there is a limit to how far this
process can be carried without serious consequences. A
town cannot discharge its policemen or firemen, or shut down
all its schools. If only to protect its capital investment, a
town must maintain its plant keep its streets, schools,
sewers, and other properties in good repair. Changing local
conditions may even make it necessary to undertake new
public construction. A variety of financing problems are
In the first place, the amount of money which a municipal-
ity can borrow is limited, nearly always to a certain percentage
of its property values. Consequently, when real-estate
values are depressed, the amount of bonds it can issue is
greatly reduced. In the second place, investors uncertain of
the outlook are loath to buy the municipality's bonds; and
communities which are in a position to issue bonds are forced,
therefore, to pay a high rate of interest if they can sell them
When PWA was organized, communities throughout the
United States which attempted to finance public works
found themselves in just such a situation. Some were vir-
tually bankrupt; others were severely hampered by Consti-
tutional and statutory debt limitations. Even those which
were considered "wealthy," and were able to issue bonds,
had to pay exorbitant interest rates. The leading cities
found it impossible to borrow money at less than 5 percent. 1
Some way had to be found to enable communities to raise
their share of the costs of public works. The ultra-conserv-
ative lending policy of bankers could accomplish little, but
neither could PWA throw its money away. PWA found
it necessary to establish financial criteria which would be
sufficiently elastic to permit cities to participate in the pro-
gram and yet meet the requirement of Congress that such
1 In June 1933, the Bond Buyer's index of municipal bond prices of 20 "standard" cities
stood at a yield at 5.7 percent, and its index of u "first grade" cities at 4.9 percent.
loans be "reasonably" secured. It was up to PWA to deter-
mine the terms of the loans, and the types of security and
rates of interest.
PWA therefore adopted two simple criteria :
1. The bonds had to be valid and enforceable; and
2. There had to be reasonable assurance that they could be repaid
with interest over a period of not more than 30 years.
At the same time, PWA decided not to compete with pri-
vate investors, but rather to encourage the private sale of
bonds and thus help to restore the municipal bond market.
It did not concentrate on "high-grade bonds" which would
be readily salable. Furthermore, it established an interest
rate of 4 percent, with the thought that this would be low
enough to help communities in need of assistance, and yet
high enough so as not to interfere with private investors in
a normal municipal market. The fact that good municipal
bonds were quoted at 60 or 70 had no influence on PWA. It
purchased companion issues at the full face value, paying
$100 for every bond having a redemption value of $100.
For example, New York City's 4 percent bonds were selling
at 77 in December 1933, but PWA bought a similar issue
at 100. And this faith was rewarded, for these bonds were
later resold to private investors at a profit.
POLICY IN PRACTICE
PWA took a liberal and helpful attitude, making full
allowance for the depression period, especially when these
difficulties appeared temporary and the community had a
good past record. It anticipated improved financial condi-
tions which would reflect increased values of taxable prop-
erty, better tax collections, and brighter prospects for revenue
from income producing projects. It granted loans unhesi-
tatingly where future stability and growth held promise.
In many cases, PWA worked actively with public officials
in smaller communities, suggesting ways of revamping their
financial structures. This not only helped them in qualify-
ing for a PWA loan, but established future dividends to the
taxpayers of the communities. Back in 1935, for example,
Union Free School District No. 28, Nassau County, N. Y.,
asked PWA for a loan and grant to build a high school at
Long Beach, Long Island. Its finances were muddled and
getting no better. PWA told the district it would like to
help, but that it must first help itself. PWA pointed out
that a more aggressive effort to collect taxes would cure
most of the troubles, and would stop a dangerous habit of
deficit borrowing. When the old high school was seriously
damaged by the hurricane in 1938, the district came back
saying that a new building was desperately needed. It also
reported that it had followed PWA's suggestions and sup-
plied evidence that it had put its financial house in order.
A PWA loan of $460,000 and a grant of $376,363 were allotted
and construction of a new high school was begun at Long
Beach. Later, the school district notified PWA that the
loan would not be needed after all, as it had received a bid
for its bonds at less than 4-percent interest.
At the same time, PWA discouraged communities from
improvident public works construction. It has made every
effort to avoid creating or increasing indebtedness to the
point where it was likely to prove excessive and a source of
financial difficulty outweighing the benefits derived from the
improvement. PWA wanted no part in loading a white
elephant on a community, and at times was forced to prick
the bubble of local superenthusiasm.
STANDARDS OF APPRAISAL
PWA concluded the majority of loan agreements without
the benefit of any personal contact between lender and
borrower. To send an expert to each of the thousands of
communities wanting loans would have required an enormous
staff, and might have delayed the program for years. So
the financial experts devised a new technique in the deter-
mination of municipal credit responsibility. This consisted
of a questionnaire which, if answered fully and correctly,
would give a reasonably reliable picture of the ability of the
community to repay the loan requested.
This method, in general, proved to be simple, expedient,
and efficient; but in the case of revenue-bond financing of
public works it presented many problems. There were no
existing examples of financing many of the types of projects
through issuance of revenue bonds. PWA was compelled
to start "from scratch" in developing bases of appraisal and
other standards for such obligations.
This was particularly difficult in the first 2 years of opera-
tion when financial analysis of local applications was handled
entirely in the central office. Success was possible only
because of the availability of a trained staff of engineers
familiar with the construction and operation of municipal
utilities and of finance examiners familiar with municipal
credit problems. Since standards of appraisal were of neces-
sity based on average conditions, it was only natural that
occasionally a community did turn out to be of a very differ-
ent nature from what it appeared on paper, and in many
surprising respects. But common, practical sense avoided
many pitfalls, such as the case where the entire population
of a community would have had to die three times to pay
out a revenue loan for a municipal cemetery, or where the
entire feminine population of a community would have had
to give birth to children on the average of once every 5 months
to pay out a loan for a municipal maternity hospital. PWA
found it difficult on occasion to sift out the true facts in decep-
tively glowing earning statements of water or sewer systems,
or harbor developments, as projected by enthusiastic appli-
cants. This task was made easier, however, when the PWA
technical staff was decentralized and came into personal
contact with communities, their problems and prospects.
PWA could not have answered the urgent needs of com-
munities for financial assistance merely by the development
of suitable financial criteria. PWA (as the preceding chapter
explained) also sponsored State and local legislation pro-
viding new means of financing public improvements and
simplifying the procedure for the issuance of municipal bonds.
This was necessary because the lack of flexibility in State
and local laws denied many communities the right to finance
works which were not only socially desirable but were eco-
nomically sound projects which were able to produce in-
come sufficient to support the cost of their construction and
This legislation provided for the issuance of various forms
of non-tax obligations through which revenue-producing
public enterprises could be financed. It thus served to set
up the services of the community on a businesslike basis.
The repayment of the cost of the projects came to depend on
the income they produced, rather than on the ability of the
community to collect property taxes.
In order to finance certain projects which were beyond the
scope of the bonding capacity of any single community, new
forms of quasi-municipal corporations, generally called
"Authorities" were created in many instances.
REVENUE BOND FINANCING
Through the purchase of revenue bonds, PWA has financed
many hundreds of waterworks, sewer systems, electric and
gas improvements, and various other public enterprises for
communities of all sizes, even down to villages of 400 to 500
people. In some cases, the problems of working out a basis
of financing a $ 15,000 waterworks system were no less com-
plicated than those involved in a $20,000,000 toll bridge or
tunnel, and received no less attention.
The need of the city of Fort Smith, Ark., for a new water
supply is a case illustrating the numerous problems worked
out with PWA applications. Originally, the Fort Smith
Water District requested $1,650,000 for a water supply sys-
tem, but PWA's lawyers found that the district had no legal
way of borrowing the money needed.
After numerous conferences between the city officials and
their representatives and PWA's representatives, a plan was
worked out for the construction of a waterworks system. The
money was to be raised by Waterworks Revenue Bonds.
It was arranged that the city sell water at wholesale to the
water district, which owned and operated the water distribu-
tion system in the city, and that the water district continue
to retail it to the residents of the city. Several legal snarls
had to be untangled, since the water supply system was to be
entirely outside of the city limits, and nobody was sure that
the city had authority to build anything outside its bounda-
ries. It was also necessary to work out a valid contract be-
tween the city and the water district covering the sale of
water during the life of the loan. All the difficulties were
ironed out, and the plan subsequently received the approval
of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Similar plans have been
used since in a number of other analogous cases.
PWA has made mistakes, of course, but surprisingly few
considering the vast amount of pioneering involved in such
financing. In its extensive experience with this type of
financing, the organization has made constant refinements in
its criteria of appraisal and has fully tested its scope in the
courts. These test cases not only have protected PWA's loan
transactions, but have served to lay the groundwork for such
financing so carefully that communities now find it possible
to sell such bonds to private investors upon very attractive
Revenue bond financing, according to PWA's experience,
is not only sound in theory, but also fosters a more equitable
distribution of the charges for some municipal services. In
other words, it makes it possible to charge some of the costs
of a project against the users according to the benefits each
user gets, rather than arbitrarily against the owners of real
estate. For that reason, new public projects in the future
will tend more and more to become self-supporting. (The
trend toward revenue bond financing of PWA projects is
shown in table 4 in the appendix.)
PROFITS AND LOSSES
Up to March i, 1939, PWA had made loans totaling
$822,139,340, of which more than half already had been
collected. The repayment of some of these loans, and the
sale or redemption of a majority of the bonds which PWA
had obtained as collateral for its loans, have brought $484,-
back into the Treasury. In selling these bonds,
PWA, 2 in a great many cases, received bids far above par
from the public. As a result, the Government has made a
profit of almost $12,000,000 on bonds resold thus far the
very same bonds that private investors previously had been
unwilling to purchase. PWA considered this especially
noteworthy in view of the fact that it had paid par for these
bonds when similar issues were selling at "distress" prices.
Naturally, PWA sold the best of the bonds in its portfolio.
It feels, nevertheless, that a very great majority of the issues
which it retained can be liquidated in full. It fully expected
at the time the loans were made that some of the issues might
be troublesome in the early stages, and that payments of
principal and interest might be late. This expectation was
based on the knowledge that it nearly always requires con-
siderable time for a water or sewer system to establish its
earning power. A community may find, for example, that
several potential customers are slow in using the municipal
services because they want to make their last payments on
their automobile, or pay the dentist, before they install con-
nections for the water system or sewer system or gas system.
But in such cases, careful nursing of the loan through the
organization period has been found helpful.
PWA found only a few instances (involving borderline
cases which received the benefit of the doubt) where the
loans seem to be definitely beyond the capacity of the com-
munity to repay. Out of the total of $704,930,097 of bonds
purchased, only $675,788 of principal and $1,570,887 of
interest were delinquent on March I, 1939. This involved
only 325 issues out of nearly 2,900 purchased. The vast
majority of these delinquencies can be corrected without
serious difficulty. Comparing the volume of delinquencies
with the total amount of bonds purchased by the PWA, the
Government may expect in the end almost complete recovery
of the funds loaned through PWA. Practically all borrowers
have shown a serious regard for their obligations.
2 Bond sales were for the most part made through the RFC.
Soon after PWA began buying municipal bonds, municipal
credit began to improve and interest rates began to decline
sharply. Consequently, an increasing proportion of munici-
palities found it possible to sell bonds more advantageously
in the general market than to PWA, at PWA's rate of 4 per-
cent. Communities turned less and less to PWA to obtain
the loan portion of their project costs. In the first program
initiated in 1933, local public bodies were able to provide
through their own resources only 35 percent of the total
cost of their public works. In the 1935 program, local funds
increased to 45 percent of the total cost. In the current
(1938) program the proportion reached 52 percent. 3
The trend is even more pronounced than is indicated by
the percentage figures, since PWA had in the meantime in-
creased the amount of outright grant which correspondingly
reduced the amount of money that had to be provided by the
An important factor in this shift from Government to
private financing has been the successful experience of PWA
with certain types of municipal obligations, notably revenue
bonds, previously regarded with much distrust by private
capital. The fact that PWA developed acceptable stand-
ards for these obligations, and clarified their validity and
enforceability through legislation and court interpretation,
has given them a more respectable standing in the financial
Is FEDERAL AID NEEDED?
Since economic conditions have improved and private
capital has participated more in the financing of public works,
PWA has attempted to determine the desirability or necessity
of continued activity on the part of the Federal Government
in this field. The 6-year experience of PWA with all types
of such projects suggests that even under favorable economic
conditions, certain useful and urgent public works projects
must continue to rely upon Government aid.
3 See table 6 in the appendix.
Predominant among this group are the major stream pol-
lution projects, involving the large scale construction of
sewage disposal facilities. Government sponsorship and
financial aid have been instrumental in attaining the coopera-
tion of the various municipal units along a stream. Without
such cooperation many of these ventures would have been
unsuccessful. In several instances these projects involved
conservation problems of national concern. PWA's part in
cleaning up the Raritan River, by aid to a number of munici-
palities (see ch. XII) is a case in point.
Large scale public works projects of the income-producing
classification, such as the Overseas Highway in Florida and
the Triborough Bridge in New York (see ch. XVIII), which
must be financed through revenue bonds, will most likely
also continue to require Federal assistance. Private capital
is traditionally reluctant to finance such projects because of
the prolonged construction period, the chance for unforeseen
developments to increase construction costs materially, and
the uncertainty as to actual revenues. All these factors
make such bonds speculative until the earning power of the
facilities becomes well established.
PWA's analysis of its financing has also shown that the
need of future Government aid is by no means confined to the
large scale public works. Many small communities today
have water or sanitation facilities because a PWA grant re-
duced the required bond issue to the point where the limited
resources of such communities could repay the indebtedness.
Then too, even the favorably considered general tax obliga-
tions of many smaller communities in certain sections of the
country enjoy only a local market. As a result the ability
of such communities to arrange for private financing of public
works is both limited and erratic.
In considering the future need of Government aid in
financing public works, it is well to remember that cycles of
economic depression have inevitably introduced collapses of
the municipal credit structure. This has disrupted private
financing of public works. If it is essential to economic
stability to maintain a balanced volume of public-works
construction with its collateral influences on employment
and heavy industries, it then follows that the Government
should be prepared to make available at such times a reservoir
of credit to aid in the financing of all types of public-works
HEALTH BUILDING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, SHOWING THE
APPLICATION OF MODERN ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN. THIS STRUCTURE IS
ONE OF 662 PWA COLLEGE PROJECTS
PUBLIC works of an enduring char-
acter, and of lasting benefit must be
carefully designed to meet the needs of each community
efficiently and economically. A modern mail-order house
performs a remarkable variety of services, but we have not
arrived at the stage where a mayor can open the catalog,
select a nice looking bridge, fill in the order blank, and have
the postman deliver it in a neat package ready to use. Every
bridge, every sewer system, every school, even the jails must
be tailor-made, designed for the site and the needs of the
community. This calls for engineering ability of a high
caliber. Too often in the past it has been a matter of coinci-
dence that municipal improvements turned out as expected.
But it is by no means mere coincidence that PWA projects
measure up to the finest standards of construction.
PWA from the beginning has insisted that public works
projects be designed to meet the needs of communities
intelligently, and has refused to take part in dissipating
taxpayers' money through extravagance or improvidence in
planning. In this effort, PWA has had the advantage of an
expert engineering staff, made up of outstanding authorities
in all the fields of construction. Among these have been
officers of well-known engineering societies, outstanding archi-
tects, men who have helped to build the Nation's railways,
men who have built water systems for European and South
American nations, men who were in charge of construction
at the Panama Canal, others who have designed and con-
structed outstanding buildings, and executives of great con-
struction companies. They were drafted for service not only
because of their knowledge in specialized fields of construc-
tion, but also because they had the additional capacity to
evaluate the social desirability of projects. They were able to
determine whether a project proposed by a community could
actually fill the purpose intended. That is still something
that a slide rule cannot do.
Thousands of our communities are intimately familiar
with the schools, hospitals, city halls, roads and bridges,
water and sewer systems constructed under PWA sponsor-
ship. These projects affect the well-being of millions of our
citizens, and are uniformly a source of civic satisfaction and
pride. Very few citizens, however, have any idea of the
painstaking role played by PWA in making these projects
satisfactory to the communities.
Suppose Any town needed a new school. For many years
Anytown mothers left their children at the door of the rickety
old school building in the morning, disturbed by obviously
great possibilities of fire. Their misgivings became an increas-
ing topic of discussion at the parent-teachers' meetings and
various women's clubs, and the movement for a new school
building gained increasing momentum. Finally, the matter
was made the subject of a local referendum. The town voted
overwhelmingly for the project.
At this point Anytown discovered that a new school build-
ing would place a heavy strain on the community's limited
finances. The town officials, therefore, applied to PWA for a
grant to ease the burden. The PWA traveling engineer
helped them to fill out a questionnaire which showed what
Anytown wanted to build and how the local citizens proposed
to finance this construction. The application contained a
local architect's sketch of the proposed building. PWA,
recognizing that each community has its own problems and
its own ideas, left the matter of design, as usual, to the com-
munity itself. While PWA would not dictate the choice
of architect or engineer, it did show a reasonable prudence in
assuring itself of the designer's ability to do a good job,
especially since the Government was to pay 45 percent of his
fee. 1 But in this case it was satisfied that the job would be
When this questionnaire reached the PWA regional office,
it was subjected to the customary legal and financial scrutiny.
The engineers then thoroughly analyzed the project for struc-
tural or planning defects. They searched the application for
answers to several questions: Is the school adequate for the
population? Will it take care of future growth? Is it too
big? Does it have ample space for playgrounds? Does it fill
modern school requirements? Is the building safe? Can it
be built for the money available ? In order to answer this last
question, costs were broken down item by item and compared
with similar buildings nearby. The engineer responsible for
the determination of these questions was an expert on school
buildings in the area, and before he was through with his
analysis he knew fairly well just how the project would con-
form with what the community had in mind.
1 PWA has always insisted that competent engineers and architects be provided by local
communities to take charge of their projects. It has realized the necessity for proper recom-
pense for these important technical advisers and has provided that they may be paid reason-
able fees for their work. Nearly 6,000 engineering and architectural firms and individuals
have participated in the program.
The plans were then scrutinized to determine whether the
standards of construction complied with the best and most
modern practices. Before he was through the engineer might
have called in other specialists for their advice on miscel-
laneous technical details. A structural engineer might have
been asked to go over the steel framework to see if it measured
up to the best practice. A mechanical engineer might have
made suggestions on the heating and ventilating system.
By the time this engineering staff had studied the project
item by item, consulted with the local architect, suggested
changes, and finally given their approval, Anytown was
assured of getting the most for its money. In this way,
PWA engineers all over the Nation have helped to raise the
standards of construction.
PWA's advice has saved many communities thousands of
dollars. In years gone by, some communities, for example,
plunged into the expense of constructing an elaborate water
system only to find that no water was available to operate it.
But PWA, except in rare instances, has not permitted its funds
to be expended for the construction of water distribution
systems until the availability of a sufficient supply of good
water had been clearly established.
In one case, an Alabama village had spent $4,000 to sink
a well which in the end proved to be dry. It abandoned all
hope of a modern water plant until a PWA engineer recom-
mended turning to a forgotten spring supply that proved to
be ample and perfectly good. On another occasion where
expensive drilling was producing poor wells, PWA suggested
using a river supply of water and cooperated with the town's
engineer to replan the project.
PWA has always helped to reduce health hazards. Before
construction on a water supply project is approved, it must
be satisfied that there are no health hazards in the source.
Furthermore, it makes a careful check of all sewage disposal
projects to see that no health hazard is removed from one
locality to become a menace in another. In areas where
fluorides are found in water supplies, it has brought to the
attention of the communities this danger to the health of
children and has required wherever possible the substitution
of another source of water supply. Many communities are
forced to depend upon a water supply which has a high iron
content. While this in itself is not a health hazard, the
presence of iron in water causes damage to plumbing fixtures
and textiles. In such cases, PWA has required that adequate
treatment for removal of iron be constructed.
In still other cases, PWA has enabled several towns to
build a common sewage disposal plant, resulting in substan-
tial savings to these communities. Carlstadt, East Ruther-
ford, and Rutherford, N. J., each applied for a separate
sewage disposal plant representing a total outlay of $931,000.
PWA suggested a single combined plant. After several
meetings at the PWA office, a joint plant was agreed upon
costing $887,000, or a savings of $44,000. This plant, with
its greater capacity, has been estimated to save over $14,000
per year in operating costs. Many a community has bene-
fited by such advice.
Once satisfied that a given project fits a community's
needs, and an allotment of funds has been made for that
project, PWA always has taken additional steps to protect
the public's dollars. Even prior to construction shortly
after a contract has been drawn up between the community
and the Federal Government PWA examines carefully
the detailed plans and specifications which give exact direc-
tions as to how the project is to be built from the time the
first shovelful of earth is turned up to the time the completed
job is tested for use.
PWA has found its precautions in that direction well
rewarded. By correcting the wording of clauses liable to
misinterpretation, it has prevented in many instances exces-
sive costs to the taxpayers. Some of these were easy to
detect and correct such as that found in the specifications
for the steel framework of a jail project. Tucked away
among the stringers, plates, and girders, were provisions for
four seven-passenger limousines at $5,000 per limousine.
Not so easy to detect have been those specifications that
prevent a reasonable number of contractors or manufacturers
of material or equipment from bidding on a particular item.
PWA has insisted on free and open bidding competition.
This keeps prices to a reasonable level; and serves as the
best and most equitable way of distributing Federal recovery
funds to all units of the industrial system.
PWA has approved specifications only after it has been
given reason to believe that they would tend to give the com-
munity what it wants in quantity and quality, and would
permit all firms producing the type and quality of article
desired to compete for the business. If, on the other hand,
there happened to be clauses that would unduly restrict com-
petition, or were not in line with the best construction prac-
tice, PWA has returned the specifications for changes.
PWA has also observed the press advertisements for bids,
and has always had representatives at the openings of bids.
The case of a bridge project in New York State is rep-
resentative. The sponsors advertised that sealed bids for
a bridge would be received at a specified time at the city hall.
After two weeks or so of careful estimating on the part of con-
tractors the time came for all bids to be sealed and filed.
The bids were opened in the presence of PWA and local offi-
cials, together with representatives of material manufac-
turers, who were on hand to sell everything from carpet tacks
to zinc to the successful bidder.
The X Co. was found to have offered to do the work for the
lowest price. The PWA representative began to check up
immediately to determine whether the lowest bidder was
''qualified." He found that the X Co. had had extensive ex-
perience in bridge construction, and in fact had just satis-
factorily completed a PWA job on schedule in a nearby State.
He also noted that the company had submitted a bank state-
ment showing that it was financially sound and able to finance
the preliminary steps in the project, and had also submitted
a certified check for 5 percent of the cost of the job as "earn-
est" money. As the bid of the X Co. was below the estimated
cost, there was plenty of money available to complete the
bridge. Local officials thereupon with the concurrence of
PWA awarded the X Co. the contract and ordered it to move
in its equipment, place its material orders, hire its men and go
Before work began, however, the company filed a perform-
ance bond as required by specifications. Such a bond guar-
antees that any PWA job started will be completed satis-
factorily. If the completed project fails to meet the re-
quired tests, or lags behind schedule, the bonding company
would have "to make good." PWA's requirement of the
performance bond has protected millions of dollars of public
money. PWA also requires every contractor to provide
insurance for his workmen.
With the actual start of construction, a PWA resident
engineer inspector is sent to help local officials, and to see that
PWA's rules and regulations are followed. This resident
engineer holds a unique position for he has no power over the
contractor. The contract for a non-Federal project is always
between the contractor and the local officials. All he actually
does is observe developments and suggest necessary changes
to the local officials, and also report to PWA. If he should
determine that any of the work does not conform with speci-
fications, PWA can withhold grant funds. The resident
engineer must see that PWA's labor regulations are carried
PWA has maintained representatives on all its projects.
One resident engineer often can handle several projects, if
these are located in one vicinity. On the other hand, large
construction projects such as the Chicago subway or the Los
Angeles schools require a project engineer with a staff of
specialists to patrol the various engineering features of the
work. Reputable contractors welcome PWA representatives
on their jobs, for the fact that PWA considers a contract a
document to be followed explicitly at all times, not just when
convenient, helps them to plan and carry out their work.
Many of them have stated that PWA requirements are a
guarantee of steady work for reputable contractors, since
"chiselers" find it impossible to operate under this rigid
DELAYS AND CHANGES
PWA has never permitted unjustified delays in construc-
tion and has endeavored always to impress upon communities
the necessity for prompt completion of work. It requires
that early in the prosecution of a project, a schedule be set
up, timing the various operations to completion, and exer-
cises close supervision throughout the succeeding stages of
construction to see that this schedule is lived up to as far
as possible. With very few exceptions, the communities
and their engineers, architects, and contractors, have coop-
erated to produce what is perhaps the fastest construction
program of its magnitude in history.
Since it is almost impossible to build a project without
some necessary and unforseen changes, PWA maintains a
degree of flexibility in its control to permit work to proceed
without undue delay. For example, in the construction of
a school building in Keyser, W. Va., it was found, after the
contractor had opened up the excavation, that the character
of the soil was different from that disclosed by the pre-
liminary survey. Water from springs was encountered. In
order to insure a stable structure, it was necessary to carry
a portion of the foundation walls deeper, and install tile
drains. The school board's architect presented a statement
of facts, together with the cost data, to the resident engineer
inspector, who reported upon the conditions to the regional
director. Satisfactory arrangements were concluded which
permitted the project to proceed.
Across the Nation, similar problems come up every day,
are dealt with, and construction goes on. In thousands of
communities PWA engineers are now helping local officials
with their troubles, keeping the job flowing along, keeping
men at work. Almost every day, some projects reach com-
pletion; the final grant check is paid; the contractors and
the workmen go on to other jobs, the PWA engineer moves
on to another project, the municipal bosom swells with pride
over the new civic improvement
SURVEY OF PWA STANDARDS
What have been the results of PWA's supervision and
assistance? Have the standards of construction been raised?
If the standards have been raised, have the costs gone up?
What do the communities throughout the Nation think
about the results?
The answers to these questions have long been the subject
of conjecture. The President's Committee on Architectural
Surveys has asked these questions of hundreds of com-
munities, architects, and engineers throughout the country.
Seven hundred and seventy-three local authorities, a repre-
sentative cross section of communities throughout the Nation
replied. Their replies to the questionnaires give the answers.
The first question was: Do you consider that PWA regu-
lations have resulted in higher standards of planning? The
answers were as follows:
Yes 512 70 percent
No 197 30 percent
Have they resulted in higher standards of design?
Yes 436 65 percent
No 231 35 percent
Have they resulted in higher standards of construction?
Yes 544 78 percent
No 155 22 percent
Of course, PWA could not have raised standards by an
equal amount everywhere. Some communities have long
had rigid standards of their own, and have built up staffs
capable of enforcing them. PWA regulations have tended
to bring other regions into line with the best.
Now it might be supposed that higher standards of plan-
ning, design, and construction would bring higher total costs
of construction. Always, of course, because of the PWA
45 percent outright grant, the cost to the community would
be less, but the question of total cost was unsolved. So the
question was asked: Do you consider that the construction
cost of your completed work was greater under PWA than
it would have been without PWA ? The answers came back :
Greater 369 54 percent
Same or less 319 46 percent
In those cases where the cost was said to be greater, the
question was asked: Were costs greater due to PWA provi-
sions for prevailing wages and other regulations pertaining to
labor? The ratio of replies was:
Yes 296 92 percent
No 33 8 percent
Thus, most of the extra cost was due to better wages.
Other surveys have indicated that, where the costs were
believed to be higher due to PWA regulations, the increase
amounted to only i to 4 percent.
Trying to find out how costs could be lower under PWA,
the committee asked the question: Have there been better
standards of competitive bidding? The answers showed:
Yes 425 70 percent
No 185 30 percent
Another question revealed an interesting point in relation
to cost. The communities were asked : Are your maintenance
costs greater or less as a result of PWA ? The survey showed :
Greater 58 18 percent
Less 269 82 percent
By the testimony of those who have built under PWA
regulations, PWA has contributed materially and definitely
to raising the standards of the construction industry through-
out the Nation. This contribution has been made primarily
by the PWA engineers which have guided the construction
program, and by the PWA investigators whose vigilance has
enforced the standards which have made the PWA sign the
hallmark of quality in the construction field.
EVERY construction job has its
quota of "sidewalk superintend-
ents." To realize the number of voluntary critics which
PWA has had, one must multiply by 34,500 projects, and
then add in those who have gathered their notions about
publics works from hearsay and newspaper reports. PWA
has been operated in the open, where everyone could see,
and has forestalled possibilities of error as much as possible.
It has maintained an organization and policy that were as
flexible as possible. Considering the vast number of legal,
financial, and engineering problems, not to mention broad
questions of public policy, the fact that it has satisfactorily
completed 26,508 projects and has initiated almost 8,000
more is a tribute to the American way of doing things.
Whatever the criticism, no charges have ever been brought
that PWA was unfair to labor, or that it has been negligent
in its duty of safeguarding the public purse. In supervising
the labor relations between thousands of private contracting
firms and millions of workmen of every description and skill,
PWA has been ever mindful of its duties to the workmen
who have performed the jobs, to the contractors who have
hired the men, and to the taxpayers who have paid for the
PWA's insistence on reasonable standards for workers and
for open and honest conduct in the construction of its projects
has not only resulted in a record unblemished by scandal but
also in a far more stable construction industry.
When the first spadeful of earth was turned on the first
PWA project, the Nation was suffering from the greatest
surplus of labor in its history. Labor, like any other com-
modity, is subject to the law of supply and demand if it
lacks cushioning controls. Whenever there is a surplus,
whenever hordes of men walk the streets looking for work,
the wages of labor tend to be driven down. And that de-
pression of wages cuts deeply into the workers' purchasing
power and lowers the national income.
PROTECTION OF LABOR
A democratic nation never could be a partner in any
attempt to limit the economic freedom of working men or
abet any efforts to drive their wages down. The Federal
Government would have defeated the whole purpose of
recovery by so doing.
Congress forestalled any such possibility when it provided
in the Recovery Act (NIRA) that "all employees shall be
paid a just and reasonable wage * * * sufficient to
provide living in decency and comfort."
To carry out this mandate in the face of a disorganized
and distressed labor market, created unforeseen problems.
There were questions of where to recruit labor, preferences
for local labor, and particularly what rates were to be estab-
lished. PWA made its start by creating a zone system of
minimum hourly rates, recognizing that wages varied in
different sections of the country. The Administrator estab-
lished the following:
Zone labor labor
Southern Ji.oo Jo. 40
Central __ i.io .45
Northern 1.20 .50
These rates were not as rigid as they seemed. For example,
PWA made allowances for different classes of workmen who
could not be considered unskilled laborers.
PWA made no pretense that these wage rates were perfect,
especially in view of the fact that it had to deal with differ-
ences between rural and urban labor, and local and nonlocal
labor. Adjustments constantly had to be made, but the
regulations served the purpose in the beginning of preventing
undue advantage being taken of workers. As employment
increased, and such controls were no longer necessary, PWA
undertook in 1935 a policy of setting wage minimums in
accordance with the rates prevailing in the locality where
the work was undertaken. At present, the sponsors of the
projects determine the rates for workers, and these provisions
are embodied in the contracts which are let, thus permitting
the bidder to know in advance just how much his labor
costs will be.
These requirements at first brought forth many protests.
Many communities tried to set the prevailing rate at the
lowest possible figure that any man in the community could
be induced to work for. PWA could not agree to this, and
requested that rates be the same as those paid for similar
work in the locality. When this was determined, a few
communities contended it would raise the cost of their
public works excessively. Yet in scores of cases, the bids,
with the higher labor rate, proved lower than originally
estimated on a cheaper wage scale.
The reason for this startling anomaly was easy to find.
Contractors found that paying good wages brings good men,
who do better work quicker, and therefore cost him less.
SELECTION, HOURS AND DISPUTES
In an effort to spread the benefits of construction jobs,
the recovery act required that a maximum 3O-hour week be
put into effect, insofar as practicable. But there were
various difficulties in the way. While the 3O-hour week
did spread work, it tended to raise the cost and to slow
things down where lack of daylight made it impossible to
operate two 6-hour shifts. And so, the policy was changed
to a monthly limit of 130 hours, and then to the standard
4O-hour week prevailing in the construction industry. Like-
wise, early attempts to require an arbitrary proportion of
relief labor created difficulties, especially in cases where
contractors had collective bargaining agreements with labor
PWA's current rules in this regard are simple: A union
contractor gets his men from the proper unions. Preference
is given to those on relief. If the union cannot supply a
man for the job within 48 hours, the contractor applies to
the National Reemployment Service. A nonunion contrac-
tor, on the other hand, applies directly to the National
Reemployment Service, which sends him qualified men from
its lists of unemployed or from those working on work relief
The whole question of labor rates and preference, as PWA
anticipated, was difficult to handle, and still requires con-
stant attention. Workers may demand one rate; owners
may demand another. The opposing views may lead to a
strike. While PWA is not involved in the strike, being
interested only in seeing that its regulations pertaining to
reasonable wages and working conditions are carried out,
it is determined that the recovery program shall not lag.
A strike not only means the two parties are at loggerheads,
but also hundreds of other trades, and many jobs in manu-
facturing industries supplying materials may slow down or
PWA handles its labor problems through a special assistant
to the Administrator. Experts in each PWA regional office
check wage scales prepared by local officials. In 1938 these
experts studied 5,452 wage rates, worked out changes with
local officials in 2,375 projects. The results brought guaran-
tees of increases of $22,512,724 in wages to labor. More
than $i 2,000,000 was added to minimum wage guarantees in
the South alone. At the same time, PWA's handling of dis-
putes has steadily improved.
THE "KICK-BACK" REGULATION
Setting proper wage scales in advance is one task. Seeing
to it that the right man gets paid the right wage is another.
The resident engineer inspector keeps an eye on these men
as they report for work, to be sure that those entitled to the
work get the job. He also checks to see that they are paid
according to the wage scale. In 999 cases out of a thousand,
there is no trouble. But back when PWA was starting, men
needed jobs so desperately that some dishonest contractors
sold jobs to those men who would "kick back" the largest
percentage of their earnings. A few dishonest contractors
would pay the wage scale, certify boldly to PWA that this
had been done, and the workmen would then be required to
pay back as high as one-quarter of what they had earned,
"or else - -."
PWA was determined that such practices would never be
allowed on its projects. The Administrator established a
Division of Investigations, responsible only to himself, to see
that anyone who preyed on labor or engaged in any other
improper or dishonest practices would be punished.
Manned by a crew of lawyers, engineers, and accountants,
the Division of Investigations watches over proceedings in
general. If a resident engineer suspects "dishonesty," if a
complaint from anyone is received, PWA investigates. If
criminal action can be charged, the Division of Investigations
collects evidence and affidavits, and presents them to the
Department of Justice and aids in prosecuting the case. In
less than 6 years, the Division of Investigations has brought
about the return of $644,000 "stolen" from workmen through
Prompt and thorough investigations have reduced the
number of cases in which workers have to pay levies to hold
their jobs. But other ways of obtaining workers at less than
stipulated wages occasionally make their appearance. On
the Grand Coulee Dam in the State of Washington an investi-
gation disclosed that the only workers receiving employment
from one subcontractor were those possessing certificates
from the National Reemployment Service and whose certifi-
cates had certain holes punched in them. The investigators
discovered that the distinguishing punches could be obtained
by payments to certain employees of this subcontractor.
CASES OF MISCLASSIFICATION
Prompt investigations also have practically eliminated a
dishonest device known as "misclassification." This is a
simple process but sometimes exceptionally difficult to detect.
It consists merely of hiring a worker at a low classification,
such as "common laborer," or as "apprentice," and then
having him do the work of a skilled craftsman who should
receive a considerably higher wage.
Failure of contractors and owners to maintain proper safety
devices for workers has also been subject to investigation.
On a Memphis, Tenn., sewer project workers were required to
labor under high air pressure, similar to that maintained during
the construction of tunnels under water. Workers taken too
quickly from the high pressure to normal pressure are subject
to a serious condition known as the "bends." Although the
contractor on the sewer project had agreed to proper pre-
cautions, 38 cases of the "bends," serious enough for hospitali-
zation, were reported on the job in a single month. An in-
vestigation showed that the contractor, in order to save
money, had installed antiquated chambers in which the pres-
sure was supposed to be lowered gradually, but which had
leaks that destroyed their usefulness. New equipment was
installed and no more cases of the "bends" were reported.
OPEN, COMPETITIVE BIDDING
Important as protecting the workers has been, PWA
investigations have covered a far wider scope. They also
have protected contractors and officials. One reason that
PWA projects have been worth every dollar of their cost has
been the maintenance of the principle of open competitive
bidding and the approval of contract awards only to the
lowest responsible bidder. By ruling out favoritism in the
award of contracts millions of dollars of Federal as well as
local funds have been saved
Regardless of PWA's strict rule against favoritism, efforts
have been occasionally made to "throw" construction con-
tracts to a particular bidder and more often to give a favored
firm orders for materials or equipment. Sometimes such
efforts are made by officeholders who want to pay a political
debt; sometimes they are made out of mere friendship for a
bidder; but probably most often because of a desire to see a
local man get the job. But such favoritism, if allowed, would
have resulted in higher prices, since few men will quote their
lowest prices when they think they will get the job anyway.
PWA has encountered all sorts of chicanery of the kind
that honest contractors and this means by far the greater
majority of them would have been unable to detect by
themselves. In one midwestern city PWA had made an
allotment for an auditorium. The building required a large
amount of steel work and most of the contractors received
quotations from a steel erection company covering the steel
work involved. These estimates from the steel erection
company were duly incorporated in every contractor's
bid. A few hours before the bid opening all of the contrac-
tors, with one exception, received telegrams from the steel
company asking that previous quotations be disregarded and
raising the price on steel work $14,500. Hurriedly, the
contractors changed their bids to include the additional
amount. When the bids were opened, it was apparent that
all of the bidders except one, who was low, had raised prices
314,500. PWA was a little suspicious and an investigation
was ordered. It developed that the low bidder, not the steel
company, had sent the telegrams to his competitors. As a
result the bid opening was held over again and another
contractor got the job.
INVESTIGATION OF "COLLUSION"
Collusive bidding has been considerably more difficult to
detect. In the case of the Brewster housing project in
Detroit, six contractors, four of whom were from Detroit,
submitted bids. Since the job was divided into four units,
each contractor was permitted to bid on any or all of the
four units. Each of the four Detroit contractors actually
submitted bids on only two units. Where one of the con-
tractors was low on one unit, he was high on the other.
Only on one unit did an outside contractor submit a low
bid. The trouble was that the low bids, divided among the
local contractors and the outsider, totaled three-quarters of a
million dollars more than PWA believed was a reasonable
In the face of a campaign of ridicule waged by local news-
papers which charged PWA with "governmental red tape,"
the contract awards were held up. An investigation showed
that a number of local subcontractors' associations, in con-
junction with labor unions, had operated under what they
called "voluntary trade agreements" by which the unions
could refuse to supply labor unless the subcontractors sub-
mitted bids within 10 percent of the average. Outside
contractors had been warned that they might expect trouble
if they submitted bids. It was intimated that either no
workers would be furnished, or if workers were furnished,
they would "lie down on the job." Since the bids of the
contractors were largely the totals of the bids of the sub-
contractors, the prices were held at a high level.
During the investigation, the local Building Trades Council
published a letter saying that outside contractors would not
be discriminated against. With this assurance, bids were
taken again. This time one local and seven outside con-
tractors bid. And the lowest offer was made by an outside
contractor, whose bid was $800,000 less than the previous
low bid. While no collusion was proven in this case, it serves
to illustrate the necessity for, and the benefits of, PWA's
In the summer of 1938, with a large new program under
way, PWA received inquiries from a number of California
cities asking whether it was advisable to employ a certain
man who had promised to see that their projects were allotted,
provided he received a percentage of any allotments obtained
from PWA. They were immediately advised not to employ
the man and an investigation into his activities was instituted.
It was found that he based his claims to "an inside track"
with PWA on the fact that he had once been employed by
the organization. The investigation resulted in recission of
allotments for projects in several cities 1 which had employed
Most of the investigations have involved no violation of
criminal statutes but in the some 400 cases, the evidence has
been turned over to the Department of Justice for prosecution.
In still another way does PWA guard the public funds.
This is through constant audits of project costs audits so
carefully performed that the possibility of the misappropria-
tion of funds or falsification of records has been reduced to
an absolute minimum.
Prior to PWA, because of widely fluctuating wage rates,
and because honest contractors were at the mercy of those
members of the industry with lower standards of business
conduct, the construction was about as much of a gamble as
it was a business. Today, with fewer variables, the industry
has more businesslike methods, methods more and more
applied in non-PWA as well as PWA construction. And the
public is assured that in PWA projects it gets its money's
1 Allotments for projects in San Gabriel, South Laguna, Santa Monica, Upland, El Monte,
San Marino, and Orange Counties were suspended pending investigation. All were later
reinstated with the exception of two allotments for Orange County.
HAT PWA has done to lay a firm basis for pre-
planned public works has been in large part incidental to its
task of administering an emergency program. Regardless of
the inestimable contributions it has made toward reemploy-
ment and business recovery, PWA's work is more likely, how-
ever, to be judged by the nature and quality of the public
These additions to the national wealth have been con-
structed both by the Federal Government and by State and
The Federal Government, through 70 different agencies,
has built or improved national facilities for conservation,
recreation, transportation, military and naval defense, and
administration of its business.
The local governments, through partnership with the Na-
tional Government, have undertaken an unlimited variety of
public works to render more adequately the service which
citizens expect. With the assistance of PWA funds, they
have built or expanded or improved schools, colleges, univer-
sities and libraries for better education; hospitals, sanitariums,
clinics, and sewerage and water supply systems for better
public health; roads, highways, bridges, subways, tunnels,
harbors, wharves, and airports for better transportation; and
city halls, courthouses, civic centers, jails, and hundreds of
other projects for better public service.
All these are end products of America's first large-scale
public works program.
MASONRY WATER TOWER AT BARKSDALE FIELD, LOUISIANA, WHERE PWA
FUNDS HAVE BEEN USED FOR EXTENSIVE ARMY HOUSING DEVELOPMENT
PEOPLE today are prone to
overlook the fact that the Fed-
eral Government has been building public works since the
founding of the Nation. It is the contemporary use of public
works as a means of counterbalancing economic depressions
and stabilizing business cycles that gives newness to the
term. But insofar as building by the Federal Government is
concerned, the new role is only "old wine in new bottles."
Ever since the First Congress authorized the taking over of
the lighthouses from the States, and a subsequent Congress
provided the first public grant of land for a road, the Federal
Government has steadfastly pursued a policy of promoting
and fostering, either through direct action or through grants
of one sort or another, the construction of public works in the
national interest. Navigation aids, military and naval equip-
ment, public buildings, river and harbor improvements, and
reclamation have accounted for a substantial portion of the
annual Federal expenditures.
Like practically everything else in our Government, public
works evolved from a small start. The first appropriation for
public works was $23,000 f or light stations and lighthouses.
That was in 1791. Later, as the Atlantic seaboard developed,
expenditures for defense and trade purposes during the early
part of the nineteenth century reached into the millions.
When the country beyond the Appalachians opened up,
requiring the aid of the Government in the improvement of
transportation facilities for internal commerce, further ex-
penditures for public works were made. By 1837, the Federal
construction budget was $4,226,000, and of this amount
$1,362,000 was spent for river and harbor improvements.
Public works, even in those early days, were advocated by
the country's leaders as a means to increase the national
wealth and further the interests of the individual citizens. 1
As the country grew with surging tides of immigration and
people looked toward the West for settlement, the Govern-
ment sought to open up and develop more and more of the
hinterland. It made grants of public lands for education,
canals, highways, and railroads.
The first day of the twentieth century found the United
States with a population of almost 76 millions and 45 States
admitted to the Union. In 1904, under Theodore Roosevelt,
the construction of the Panama Canal was undertaken. The
President had emphasized the need for reclaiming western
lands, and in 1902 Congress passed the reclamation act.
This marked the beginning of the Federal Government's
1 See report of Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury, on Roads and Canals, April
4, 1808, in which he stated: "Although some of those first improvements should not become
immediately productive, and although the same liberal policy, which dictated the measure,
would consider them less as objects of revenue to Government than of increased wealth and
general convenience to the Nation, yet they would all sooner or later acquire as productive
property, their par value."
sponsorship of reclamation by irrigation. The act created a
revolving fund by setting aside and appropriating funds
received from the sale and disposal of public lands in 16
GRANTS-IN-AID FOR HIGHWAYS
A new policy of financing public works came in 1916 when
the Government supplied funds for highways which would be
owned and controlled by State governments upon completion.
Although a highway is a local project, the sum total of roads
make up major arteries for the Nation's commerce and for
the national defense. In 1916 the truck and automobile
were emerging as carriers of importance. It was necessary
to create some unified system of national highways. And
with this program the Federal Government, its available and
useful public lands practically exhausted, set up the present
system of cash grants-in-aid on a matching of funds basis.
Through the I92o's the public demanded more Federal
services. Scientific farming required experiment stations;
commercial aviation required airways. Conservation and
added leisure time called for new forests, parks to be added to
the resources of the Nation. By 1 932 the expenditures for Fed-
eral public works had risen to almost a half billion dollars. 2
But this amount had no appreciable effect on the total of
public construction because the States, cities, and other local
governmental units abandoned nearly all new construction
when the depression struck. In 1925, all public construc-
tion amounted to $2,141,000,000, of which 9.6 percent was
Federal. In 1933 Federal construction had more than
doubled but the total of all public construction had dropped
In 1931, the advice of men who had long pleaded that the
Government do something toward the scientific planning of
permanent works over a period of years began to be heeded.
Congress passed the Federal Employment Stabilization Act.
This law provided for the advance planning and regulated
2 The highest annual amount up to that time except for the World War years.
construction of public works by the Federal Government and
for aiding in the prevention of unemployment during periods
of depression. The stabilization board was also to encourage
advance planning on the part of the States, cities, and other
public and private agencies.
The act proposed planning public works so as to assist in
stabilizing employment through the proper timing of con-
struction. For this purpose, each construction agency of the
Federal Government was directed to prepare a 6-year advance
plan, with estimates for each year. The board set about
cooperating with the various agencies of the Government in col-
lecting a program of construction to cover the ensuing 6 years.
When PWA was created, the immediate problem was the
distribution of funds to put men to work where jobs were
most needed. So, naturally, the new agency turned to the
stabilization board with its 6-year program, which, while the
legislation was pending, revised and supplemented its lists.
This planning enabled the PWA to begin the recovery
movement with a minimum of delay. It made possible the
letting of contracts on millions of dollars' worth of construc-
tion promptly after the President signed the bill. In the
meantime, the States, cities, and other local governments
were preparing themselves for the non-Federal program. Al-
together, PWA has allotted $1,768,668,097 for the construc-
tion of 17,831 Federal projects to 70 Federal agencies.
In the building of these projects, PWA made no attempt to
take over the construction functions of the various agencies
involved. Federal agencies were well-equipped to design
and superintend their own work. PWA in cooperation with
the Bureau of the Budget acted as a clearing house to see
that the various programs were kept in step and that the
individual projects comprising these programs were properly
selected and coordinated.
Allotments were made under the first program with the
advice of a subcommittee of the special board for public
works. The Bureau of the Budget cooperated in order to
keep allotments in line with budgetary policy and procedure.
In selecting the projects, they were separated into cate-
gories, placing in the preferential group those which were
considered "highly desirable public works, not adding to
The replacement of necessary facilities that were obsolete
and would soon require replacement under normal procedure,
and the reconditioning of existing facilities to put them in
first-class condition, were considered to be desirable projects.
The objective was to accomplish that which would have had
to be done under normal conditions within the next few years,
with the consequent result that necessary expenditures for
such projects in future years by regular congressional appro-
priations would be reduced.
Projects were scrutinized to determine whether they would
entail recurring expense for operation, maintenance, and in-
creased personnel. Such projects which in the future would
place an unjustified burden on taxpayers were eliminated.
Since preferred projects might have fallen within a com-
paratively small group of States in which the necessity for
emergency employment was not so pressing, geographical
distribution was considered.
All applications were subjected to careful examination.
The same standards were also applied in making allotments
from the $400,000,000 appropriation contained in the Emer-
gency Appropriation Act of 1935.
Subsequent to the NIRA appropriations and the appropria-
tions contained in the Emergency Appropriation Act of 1935,
no funds were made available for the construction of Federal
projects until the enactment of the Work Relief and Public
Works Appropriation Act of 1938, which set aside $200,000,-
ooo for useful Federal projects which would increase employ-
ment. Here, advance planning, carried on by PWA, again
made a list of projects readily available, and within 4 days
after the act became law, allotments totaling $154,740,000
were made. Within 60 days contracts were let, or Govern-
ment forces put to work, on projects costing more than
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International Boundary Com-
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Secretary's Office _ _
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Air Corps _ .
Corps of Engineers
All other bureaus. _
Public Health Service
FEDERAL AND NON-FEDERAL WORKS
The Federal projects differed from the non-Federal prin-
cipally in two respects: First, they were constructed by
Federal agencies; and second, they were financed solely out
of Federal funds. They differed not at all from the stand-
point of social desirability. The projects did just as much
to raise the standard of living and provide as much employ-
ment per dollar, as local projects. Agricultural experiment
stations which develop new and better farming methods have
a wide influence, just as the building of roads by the Gov-
ernment helps everyone.
Because of the obvious desirability of roads, and because
there was a long-standing comprehensive plan for improving
our national highway system, the NIRA act itself made a
statutory allocation of PWA funds to roads, 3 most of them
built by the States and administered by the Bureau of Public
Roads in accordance with past procedure. But additional
allocations for roads were made directly to Federal agencies,
like the National Park Service, which is building the 483-
mile Blue Ridge Parkway stretching along the Appalachians
from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great
Smoky National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina.
This parkway is a good example of cooperation between
various Federal and State agencies with PWA funds. The
direct cost of the highway was paid by a PWA allotment to
s See ch. XIV.
TWO VIEWS OF THE ALL-AMERICAN CANAL BUILT BY THE BUREAU OF
RECLAMATION TO INCREASE IRRIGATION IN THE IMPERIAL AND COACHELLA
VALLEYS IN CALIFORNIA. THE CANAL CARRIES COLORADO RIVER WATER
80 MILES ACROSS THE STATE. UPPER PHOTO SHOWS SECTION OF CANAL
RUNNING THROUGH ARID LANDS WHERE IT IS CROSSED BY 4 BRIDGES AT
ARAZ JUNCTION IN CALIFORNIA, 6 MILES WEST OF YUMA, ARIZ. THE BRIDGES
ARE A DRAINAGE BRIDGE TO PROTECT THE CANAL FROM DAMAGE BY IN-
FREQUENT BUT SEVERE STORMS; U. S. HIGHWAY NO. 80 BRIDGE AND BRIDGES
OF THE SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD AND THE INTER-CALIFORNIA RAILROAD.
LOWER PHOTO SHOWS A CLOSE-UP OF TWO OF THE BRIDGES PRIOR TO THE
TIME WHEN WATER WAS TURNED INTO THE CANAL
the State highway departments for connections, making the
parkway and the parks accessible to the public.
Many other Government agencies, with roads under their
jurisdiction in bad shape due to lack of maintenance funds,
turned to PWA for help. Recovery funds helped the Office
of Indian Affairs, The Alaska Road Commission, the General
Land Office, and the Forest Service to bring their road sys-
tems up to date.
In the same way, hundreds of other PWA Federal allot-
the National Park Service. The Bureau of Public Roads
ments have integrated the development of the widespread
building activities of the Government.
In 1933 many of the properties of the Federal Govern-
ment were in poor shape. In a number of cities, post offices
were in disrepair, Federal justice was being dispensed in
buildings with sagging floors and leaky roofs, and in scattered
courthouses along our far-flung borders, customs men in some
instances had to work in poorly heated and equipped build-
ings. Federal prisons failed to live up to the standards set
by the Government's own penologists. There was a shortage
of post offices, prisons, veterans' hospitals, and other facilities.
In the San Francisco mint, a billion and a half dollars of the
Nation's assets were insecurely stored behind ordinary
wooden household doors.
Taking as a criterion, whether the projects were necessary
for the protection of life, to sustain the physical property of
the Government, or to replace obsolete facilities, PWA
recommended hundreds of building projects to the President
for allotment. The result was 3,174 building construction
projects costing $303,795,615. Post offices 4 are perhaps the
most typical and most commonly used of these building
projects, but a few other types of buildings financed with
PWA funds are widely known. Among these is the United
States Gold Depository at Fort Knox, Ky.
4 Allotments of #43,607,8 14 were made for a total of 406 post offices.
The 3560,000 two-story basement and attic building is of
granite, steel, and concrete based upon a lo-foot mat of
concrete. Its exterior dimensions are 105 by 121 feet and
the height is 42 feet above the first floor level. Within the
building is a two-level steel and concrete vault, 40 by 60 feet,
for the storing of gold. The vault door weighs more than
20 tons. Roofs to the vault as well as the depository are
bombproof. The structure was virtually completed in 1936,
and the first gold was moved in by railroad in January 1937.
National defense is a major function of the Federal Govern-
ment and of course many PWA allotments were made for
this purpose. There are new fighting ships like the U. S. S.
Fincennes, aircraft carriers like the U. S. S. Enterprise,
cruisers, destroyers, submarines, airplanes, and ordnance
for the Navy. There are new barracks for the Army, new
flying fields for the air arms of both services. One of the
greatest of these projects is the expansion and development
of Scott Field in Illinois to provide the new home for the
GHQ air force, a more strategic location than the old head-
quarters at Langley, Va. In order to provide accommoda-
tions for the vastly expanded activities, a PWA allotment of
^4,403,400 will provide new runways, aprons, night lighting,
ONE OF THE HIGH SPEED WIND TUNNELS AT LANGLEY FIELD, VA. THIS
TUNNEL IS USED BY THE NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON AERO-
NAUTICS FOR TESTING LARGE SCALE MODELS AND FULL-SIZE AIRPLANE
PARTS AT AIR SPEEDS FROM 85 TO MORE THAN 500 MILES PER HOUR.
THE RESULTS OF THE TESTS MADE IN THIS TUNNEL ARE APPLIED TO THE
DESIGN OF MODERN HIGH SPEED AIRPLANES
hangars, warehouses, and gas and oil storage tanks for the
field; officers' quarters, barracks, administration building,
guard house and hospital, for the personnel; as well as
numerous other buildings. The total for all these national
defense projects amounted to $8 24,670, 870.
Coupled with national defense and yet of great help to
the aircraft industry and to air safety were the allotments
made to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
for the three wind tunnels at Langley Field, Va. Making
possible experiments on a scale hitherto impossible in this
country, each of these tunnels serves a different purpose.
One takes complete, moderate-sized airplanes. Another,
probing into the performance of tomorrow's airplane, tests
models in wind speeds up to $00 miles as hour. A third,
looking still further ahead, develops speeds as high as 750
miles an hour. These wind tunnels have already been of
inestimable value to aviation both civil and military, and
the research that has gone on has shown the need of even
greater facilities along this line.
The wind tunnels are just one example of the research
activities made possible by PWA funds in depression years.
In PWA-financed buildings, scientists of the Biological
Survey of the Department of Agriculture, the Soil Conser-
vation Service, and the Bureau of Mines, are exploring the
frontiers of science with the latest technical facilities, work-
ing for methods and products that will lead to a better use
of our resources. Meanwhile, scientists of the Coast and
Geodetic Survey aboard the survey ship Explorer, built with
PWA funds, are searching and mapping the frontiers of the
ocean. And PWA funds have provided for mapping of
hitherto uncharted sections of our own country, indicating
new resources in minerals, oil, and timber.
HOUSING AND INDIANS
In a totally different field, PWA explored a new frontier
in public works in this country. The NIRA Act provided
for a program of low-cost slum clearance housing. Local
communities lacked facilities and authority to embark on
the program at once so the Administrator created the PWA
Housing Division, which built 51 projects at a cost of $136,-
669,759, providing low-rent homes for 70,000 to 80,000
people. (See ch. XVI.) 5
The Federal Government through PWA took care of its
responsibility toward its Indian wards. The Government
has a definite responsibility to provide for housing, education,
health, administration, and conservation for the American
Indian. PWA provided $7,017,143 for educational buildings,
$4,577,758 for health, $1,685,117 for shelters and living
quarters, $1,060,000 for a new capital for the Navajo tribes,
and more than $4,000,000 for new roads and bridges. A
great deal of conservation work was carried out by the Office
of Indian Affairs. Neglected for long periods, Indian lands
had suffered from deterioration through overgrazing;
$11,284,560 provided for conservation projects for rehabilitat-
ing this land. These projects on the reservations, like most
throughout the West, provided for soil conservation, flood
control, and irrigation. They will make for greater self-
sufficiency on the part of the tribes.
CONSERVATION OF RESOURCES
PWA has enabled the Government to expand the work of
conserving all our natural resources. The largest part of the
work has been through flood control, water power, and
reclamation projects, to which PWA has contributed more
than $262,535,655, in addition to the work of building forest
roads and trails to open timberlands, to fight fires, and for
One of the primary purposes of these projects is the
preservation of life and property from floods, in such projects
as the Muskingum Valley undertaking in Ohio, where the
building of 14 dams has given security and opportunities for
better economic life to an area comprising a fifth of the State
and in which live 675,000 people. 6
5 PWA also made allotments to the Subsistence Homesteads Division of the Department
of the Interior for construction of rural-urban self-help communities. This division was
later transferred to Farm Security Administration, Department of Agriculture.
e See ch. XVIII.
Floods on the Mississippi River, like those on its tributaries,
have brought disaster to the lower valley at frequent intervals.
Crops, transportation facilities, homes, industrial plants, and
other property have been destroyed. To help control the
waters of the Mississippi River, the Mississippi River Com-
mission was set up in 1879, and since that date, especially
in recent years, much work has been carried on by the
United States Army Corps of Engineers. PWA has provided
funds to assist in the construction of dams and locks, levees,
and other control work.
THE ARID AND SEMIARID WEST
While the eastern United States frequently has been hit
by floods, vast areas in the West have remained just as
dry as they were when the Forty-niners died of thirst on their
long trek toward gold. Yet flying over the arid and semiarid
West today the air passenger sees verdant regions amid the
deserts. One of the largest of these gardens in the desert is
the million acres of cantaloupes and lettuce, alfalfa, and small
fruits watered by the All-American Canal. A PWA initial
allotment of $9,000,000 began construction of 80 miles of
main canal from the Colorado River to the Imperial Valley
and the I3o-mile branch to the Coachella Valley. From
these valleys for years to come fresh cargoes of fruits and
vegetables are expected to be grown for the dinner tables of
the Nation, crops that do not compete with established
farming areas already in use but rather give Mrs. America
new variety for her winter table. PWA has made allotments
of $123,229,500 for 57 irrigation projects throughout the
But many of these irrigation projects, like the All-American
Canal are not for irrigation only. The All-American Canal
is a part of the huge Boulder Dam conservation development.
From its discovery in 1540, until it was harnessed by
Boulder Dam, four centuries later, the Colorado River was
one of America's most dangerous streams. Like other
western streams this giant fluctuated through a cycle from a
roaring flood-swollen torrent when snows were melting, to
a sandy bottomed sluggish creek during the long dry sum-
mers and autumns.
Man's crying need for water caused him to turn early and
calculatingly upon the Colorado. Farmers, tempted by dry
fertile soil, in the Imperial Valley, tapped the river for irriga-
tion water. But the river taking vengeance sent floods,
created the Salton Sea. On the other hand in summer it
frequently faded to a trickle.
A great demand arose for the control and conservation of
this river whose waters were the most valuable resource of a
vast desert empire. Following a compact between the seven
States affected, Congress passed the Boulder Canyon Appro-
priation Act in 1930, for construction to begin the following
year. Completion was to take 8 years. PWA entered the
picture in 1934 with an allotment of $38,000,000 which speeded
up the work and enabled the project to be completed over 2
years ahead of schedule.
Many PWA Federal allotments enabled projects which
were scheduled to take years to complete, to be speeded up
so that the major stimulation of employment and orders to
industry would come in depression years. In the case of
Boulder Dam, not only did the revenues earned by this
project begin to come in 2 years sooner, but the early com-
pletion is estimated to have saved millions of dollars in
property and perhaps many lives. In 1934, the Southwest
suffered a severe drought. The levees which protected the
rich lands adjoining the lower river cracked and weakened.
In May 1935, the river began to rise in flood. With levees
weakened, this foretold disaster on the lower reaches.
But PWA funds pushing the work ahead of schedule,
enabled the huge control gates to be closed in 1935, and
Boulder Dam held back the water, releasing it as needed
during the following months.
Boulder Dam does many things in the field of water con-
servation. It provides a steady and trustworthy water
supply for the Ail-American Canal, for the Imperial, Yuma,
and other valleys. Through a 25o-mile aqueduct connected
to a diversion dam lower downstream, it provides domestic
water for Los Angeles, Long Beach, and 13 other cities.
Floods that raged with destructive force against the com-
munities far downstream are halted, and the water saved for
use. Lake Meade, created by Boulder Dam, provides a
new recreation area in a district formerly shunned. The
lake assumes new importance as a haven for wild fowl and
fish, where none existed before. And the lake provides 115
miles of new navigable waterways above Boulder Dam, and
improves navigation in the lower river.
Each of the great multi-purpose conservation projects has
a different major function. A PWA grant of $1, 125,000
enabled the Bureau of Reclamation to build Caballo Dam,
making the irrigation water stored by Elephant Butte Dam
available for power. The Kanawha Dam built primarily
for navigation provides flood control in West Virginia, and
will ultimately be developed for power also. The Ogden,
Utah, project is primarily designed to widen an area already
As a rule, PWA has not financed new reclamation projects.
In most cases, as in Ogden, the money has been used to aid
lands already reclaimed but endangered by too scant water
for the demands of a growing population.
It is generally overlooked that most of these great under-
takings are revenue projects. As soon as they are com-
pleted, revenues from the sale of irrigation water, and from
the sale of the irrigated land begin to flow in. The $38,500,-
ooo cost of the Ail-American Canal will pay for itself over a
period of 40 years.
And much of the cost of these projects will be repaid by the
sale of the great corollary product of water electric power.
Boulder Dam itself will furnish 1,835,000 constant electric
horsepower. From the sale of power, Boulder will repay its
investment with interest. Millions of horsepower are being
produced and sold at other projects. This means income
for these projects and cheap power for the public.
ELECTRIC POWER EQUIPMENT AT NORTH PLATTE, NEBR., PART OF THE
GREAT NEBRASKA POWER PROJECTS
SOMEONE presses a button and
electricity makes the breakfast toast,
lights streets and homes, turns factory wheels, pumps water
to thirsty farm lands, and performs a myriad of other tasks.
In a short space of years electric power has become an es-
sential of everyday life, relied upon by industrial, domestic,
and agricultural consumers. A cheap supply of power has
become as indispensable to farm, factory, and home as a
cheap supply of water, a factor to be reckoned with in the
problem of making a living and in living itself. It is also one
of the basic elements of national defense.
Yet, full use of this willing servant long has been denied
large areas of the country and large numbers of its citizens.
Lack of adequate supplies of power or the unavailability of
existing service has deprived many people of its benefits.
Often where electrical energy was available in limited amounts
the cost was prohibitive. But it can be plentiful, and it can
At Cascade Locks, Wash., for $i a month a housewife can
obtain 40 kilowatt-hours of electricity, enough to light an
average home, and operate a radio, a toaster, a vacuum
cleaner, washing machine, and iron.
For $2.25 a month, she can obtain 100 kilowatt-hours, or
enough to provide for electric refrigeration also. For a total
of $4.75, she can add the convenience of an electric stove, and
another $1.50 will bring her these conveniences, and in
addition a plentiful supply of hot water.
If she uses as much as $00 kilowatt-hours of electricity a
month, this Cascade Locks housewife would pay an average
rate of i% cents for each kilowatt-hour.
Living in Cascade Locks, she gets her electricity from a
municipal distribution system which, in turn, buys power at
wholesale from the great Bonneville Dam nearby.
Under the rates charged at Cascade Locks before Bonne-
ville power became available the housewife paid $2.80 for the
same amount of electricity which now costs her $i. And she
paid $11. 60 a month instead of 36. 75 for 500 kilowatt-hours,
and similarly higher amounts beyond.
Cascade Locks was the first community to buy power from
Bonneville Dam, built across the Columbia River at a cost
of $75,000,000, of which PWA furnished $42,950,000. Now
Bonneville's well-known "objective rate" is available to
thousands of other customers of municipally owned power
systems and cooperatives serving rural areas of the Pacific
Bonneville is providing abundant and cheap power. And
at the same time it, and similar developments financed in
part by PWA, have effected other far-reaching benefits.
Bonneville, for example, extended an inland seaway 188
miles from the Pacific to bring low-cost transportation to a
BONNEVILLE DAM (LOWER PHOTO) AND GRAND COULEE DAM (UPPER PHOTO),
GIGANTIC PROJECTS ON THE COLUMBIA RIVER IN WASHINGTON AND OREGON,
UNDER CONSTRUCTION. THESE PROJECTS, WHEN FULLY COMPLETED, WILL
PROVIDE CHEAP ELECTRIC POWER AND IRRIGATION IN THE COLUMBIA BASIN
AREA IN THE NORTHWEST, AS WELL AS PERMIT NAVIGATION ON THE RIVER
BoNNEVILLE AND GRAND COULEE
Bonneville and Grand Coulee which has been called "the
biggest thing on earth," will make cheap power available
throughout the Northwest. PWA furnished the initial
funds, $14,000,000, which started construction of Grand
Coulee, located approximately 235 miles northeast from
Bonneville on the Columbia River. Both projects are invest-
ments, eventually self-liquidating. Bonneville is scheduled
to pay off in 40 years with interest at 3% percent all that por-
tion of its cost allocated to power production.
While providing power, Grand Coulee will store enough
water to irrigate 1,200,000 acres of rich desert and farming
land. And on those irrigated acres, homes will be provided
for between 25,000 and 40,000 families, with as many more
in towns located in the area. These two major steps in the
Columbia Basin development should bring rich returns in
the way of increased production of profitable crops, added
land values, cheap, energy-saving power for every need, and
low-cost transportation to the markets of the world.
These, then, are multiple-purpose projects, serving more
than one function in the public interest. In the past, dams
were frequently designed for a single purpose. A power
dam, for example, was a power dam and nothing more. Now
it is recognized that a dam may be so planned as to have many
All in all, in providing $253,016,000 for use by the Bureau
of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers, PWA
has made possible the building of dams which will reduce
floods, provide irrigation for desert acres, create a source of
water supply for cities, make possible many miles of safe
waterways, and provide vast new recreational areas, while
bringing the benefits of low-cost power to millions of people.
These Federal projects (although several of them are not
yet complete) already have an installed hydroelectric capacity
of 3,852,500 kilowatts enough to supply electricity to
10,000,000 additional average residential consumers.
The output of these plants, in some instances, is being sold
to consumers in whole or in part through private companies.
Bonneville power is sold at the same wholesale rate to munici-
palities and private companies. Power produced by the
waters of the Colorado at Boulder Dam reaches the consumer
through both public and private channels.
NON-FEDERAL HYDRO PROJECTS
Works on the lower Colorado River, in Texas, reduce floods
as well as produce power. For years that river, one of the
Nation's most temperamental streams, had subjected the
area to its periodic rampages. Ordinarily the lower Colo-
rado flows, mild and harmless as a meadow brook, past
Austin and through the plains below. Then suddenly it
rises, striking at crops and settlements, doing an estimated
annual property damage of $4,000,000. Between floods,
the river is often too low. Droughts as well as floods have
taken their toll from the people who live along its banks.
Although there are about 600,000 acres in the valley suitable
for rice culture, water for less than one-tenth of that area
has been available. The Colorado River of Texas has also
been a poor source of drinking water for the communities
through which it flows. The problem on this river, as on
many others, is to conserve wasteful flood waters and make
them available when and where they are needed. To tame
this river and to conserve its waters, the Texas Legislature
created the Lower Colorado River Authority to construct a
series of dams which will reduce the floods and which will pay
for themselves by the production of power, and the sale of
water for irrigation. To aid in the construction of these
dams and for transmission lines to carry power at low cost to
more than a score of cities and rural cooperatives, PWA
made allotments totaling $33,600,000.
In Oklahoma, $20,000,000 was allotted for Grand River
Dam which was designed to provide both flood reduction and
power. In South Carolina $34,300,000 was allotted for Santee
Cooper project, to provide both an abundance of cheap power
and a navigable waterway from Columbia to the sea. As the
Colorado River water flows along the All-American Canal
irrigating the Imperial Valley in Southern California, it also
produces electrical energy to run machines and to conserve
In Nebraska, PWA-financed construction has made possi-
ble the production of power for widespread urban and rural
uses, while conserving flood waters of the Platte and Loup
Rivers for thousands of acres of rich farm lands, and reducing
floods. PWA made loans of $3 8, 900,000 and grants of
3^4,174,000 for works in Nebraska's three big public power
and irrigation districts and in two districts selling power and
using water for irrigation.
Altogether 32 non-Federal hydroelectric projects, 1 many of
them including flood reduction features and provisions for
irrigation and municipal water supply have been financed with
PWA assistance. These have a total installed capacity of
536,242 kilowatts enough to serve more than a million
1 See table 7 in appendix for list of Federal and non-Federal conservation projects which
include hydroelectric features. Also see map preceding.
PUBLICLY OWNED POWER STATION IN NEW JERSEY, WHICH HAS UNDERGONE
EXTENSIVE REMODELING AND IMPROVEMENT WITH PWA ASSISTANCE
STEAM AND DIESEL PLANTS
Where hydrodevelopment was neither possible nor feasible,
many communities wanting cheap electric power for their
citizens sought to build steam or Diesel plants. High rates
charged by some privately owned power companies frequently
was the reason advanced for seeking PWA assistance in
building municipal power facilities. These communities had
found that cheap power is a basic factor in their growth and
well-being. PWA considered these applications on the same
basis as those for any other type of permanent and useful
project. Objections were registered and various propaganda
campaigns were launched by utility interests to force PWA to
discriminate against public power project applications, but
the agency refused to discriminate. PWA allotted $22, 871,-
864 for the construction and improvement of 212 steam and
Diesel plants. Allotments also were made for 33 gas plants
and gas-system additions, both for natural and manufactured
gas. These cost $3,401,296.
Culpeper, Va., which in 1934 completed the first mu-
nicipal electric facility to be built with PWA funds, pro-
vides an example of PWA's assistance in the non-Federal
power field. With fewer than 2,500 residents, that city in-
creased revenues from power 6 percent although rates were
reduced during the period. In 1937 the city made more than
324,000 over and above operating and investment retirement
expense, with rates which were about 10 percent lower than
those charged by a private utility before the municipal plant
went into operation.
In Hoisington, Kans., although the municipal plant went
into operation in August of 1938, an addition was under way
less than 6 months later because the number of customers had
increased from 750 to 1,050. Estimated billings for the
plant's first year of operation were $55,000, sufficient to pay
expenses and retire outstanding indebtedness in a little more
than 5 years.
Danville, Va., which has owned its electric system longer
than any community in the United States, completed a
PWA project designed to bring its system up to date.
Power produced by two dams on the Dan River is brought to
the city by a high tension transmission line.
In areas where large hydroplants have been constructed,
many communities have sought to handle the distribution of
power by themselves, either by buying existing facilities
owned by private utilities or by constructing their own lines.
Numerous applications for allotments for the construction of
distribution systems in areas near large power developments
have been received by PWA.
In the TVA area, especially in Tennessee, Mississippi, and
Alabama, communities sought funds to enable them to use
the power generated at the TVA dams. The city of Memphis
started constructing, as a PWA project, the largst distribu-
tion system ever built at one time, to serve its quarter of a
million residents. First, however, it tried to persuade the
local power company to sell the existing facilities. It was
not until construction was well along that the company
agreed to sell. This made it unnecessary for the city to
build a complete distribution system, and allowed it to ex-
tend and improve its facilities to serve the greatly increased
load resulting from lower rates.
In the lower Colorado River area so many cities voted to
install their own distribution systems to use power generated
by the Authority that the private company decided to sell
all its properties in 16 counties to the Authority. This com-
pany, too, desires to purchase a portion of the Authority's
power for sale in other sections.
The interest of communities in public power systems is, of
course, not confined to the areas where public projects are
making available a supply of cheap wholesale power. A
great many cities owning or building their own power plants
have sought PWA aid for financing new distribution systems
or improving existing ones. Since 1933, some 750 applica-
tions for funds have been received from cities wishing to
build distribution systems which would compete with existing
systems privately owned. Of these, 80 received allotments.
Municipalities have received, all together, a total of $205,-
075,300 in loans and grants from PWA for the construction
of new plants or improvements to their own power plants,
transmission and distribution systems, and facilities of all
types. The total estimated cost of all these 340 non-Federal
projects amounts to $263,ooo,ooo. 2
PWA POWER POLICY
Despite the fact that State laws allow cities and other
agencies of the State to issue bonds and construct public
works of a competitive nature, and although in the case of
the Alabama Power Company vs. Ickes, et al. 3 the courts
cleared the way for PWA allotments to such competitive proj-
ects, PWA has made every effort to prevent a wasteful dupli-
cation of facilities for which the consumer, in the end, would
have to pay.
Under current policy, a city wishing to build its own elec-
tric distribution system with the help of PWA funds, must
first make a fair and reasonable offer to purchase the exist-
ing competing facilities. Only if this offer is not accepted by
the private utility will PWA make funds available to the
city. As a result of this policy, during 1938 and to date, a
number of cities arranged to purchase privately owned sys-
tems valued at more than 25 million dollars, exclusive of the
recent negotiations concluded between the Commonwealth
& Southern Corporation and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Municipalities borrowing PWA funds must charge rates
high enough to liquidate bonds and maintain their facilities.
As a rule they charge to their power plants a sum equivalent
to the taxes which would ordinarily be paid by a well-run,
properly capitalized, private utility. Nevertheless, many
communities have found their electric power operations to
be a means of preserving the standard of living through lower
rates to the consumers. Moreover, lower rates are creating
2 See table 8 in the appendix. These totals do not include 33 gas projects costing $3,401,-
296, for which PWA made loans totaling $1,227,000 and grants totaling $1,141,670.
* See Ch. IV.
new demands for appliances, carrying domestic consumption
of electric energy to new highs.
Holland, Mich., which is now increasing its power plant
capacity with a PWA allotment, has been operating its
municipal electric system for some 30 years. It charges low
rates for the power produced and furnishes a good example of
how domestic electric energy demand may grow. The aver-
age kilowatt-hour consumption per residential customer rose,
under the influence of lowered rates, from 896 in 1934 to
1,325 in 1937. The consumption of the average industrial
customer rose in the same period from 15,550 kilowatt-hours
to 28,600. Because it cost less, customers used more and
the over-all average revenue per customer including indus-
trial and municipal uses went up from $47. 60 in 1934 to
$63.30 in 1937 while the average rate per kilowatt-hour
dropped from 3.1 to 2.7 cents. In Holland, as in hundreds of
other communities, low rates are making electricity more
widely used than ever before.
The Nation's electric power resources have grown steadily
both through private and public enterprises. But the end
the saturation point -is far in the distance. There are still
millions of rural homes without an available source of elec-
tricity. There are new industries still forming and estab-
lished industries are moving to regions where cheap electric
power is available.
While public power projects have created a great deal of
controversy, it must be remembered that PWA's attitude
toward such projects has not differed from its policy with
regard to all other types of projects. PWA has always con-
sidered the need and social desirability of these projects and
applied to them the same criteria as it has toward other
classes of public construction. They were studied from the
standpoint of legal, engineering, and financial soundness,
and in total they comprised a small percentage of all PWA
projects, as contrasted with allotments for public health and
particularly educational facilities.
BUILT TO WITHSTAND EARTHQUAKES, THIS MODERN SCHOOL IN SOUTHERN
CALIFORNIA IS ONE OF HUNDREDS BUILT OR IMPROVED IN THE LOS
WHEN the public-school bells
ring, 30 million youthful Ameri-
cans respond. This army of young people more than one-
fifth of the Nation receive their education in structures
ranging from little, antiquated one-room schoolhouses to
huge, complex buildings containing auditoriums, gymnasiums,
laboratories, shops, and cafeterias as well as classrooms.
A few years ago America faced an acute shortage of school
facilities. Since two out of every five schools in the country
had been built before the turn of the century, a large number
of the buildings were obsolescent. Many of these were unsafe,
unsanitary, and dangerously susceptible to fire. Others, in
addition, failed to provide for recreation, vocational education,
and other needs of the modern curriculum. Moreover,
many buildings were overcrowded because enrollment had
increased by leaps and bounds during the preceding decades,
particularly in the high schools, where the number of students
rose by 178 percent in the span of a generation.
PWA has aided materially in efforts to overcome this acute
shortage of adequate school facilities. Since 1933 PWA has
made allotments for 7,282 educational building projects
costing $i, 1 6 1, 1 1 8,000. 1 These comprised over 40 percent
of all the non-Federal projects for which PWA made allot-
ments, indicating to some extent what the communities of
the Nation have considered to be their prime need in the
matter of public works.
Communities in every State of the Union, and in the
Territories and possessions, participated in this program of
educational building construction. The total number of
projects in some States reached into the hundreds, while in
no State were there fewer than a score. All in all, PWA
accounted for more than 70 percent of all school construction
carried on since 1933, adding about 60,000 classrooms with
seats for approximately 2,500,000 pupils.
In general, PWA allotments for school construction have
served four main purposes: (i) To provide new facilities to
meet the needs of shifting populations and growing enroll-
ments; (2) to replace unsafe and obsolete small buildings
with modern, consolidated schools; (3) to provide new struc-
tures with modern equipment to replace obsolete and over-
crowded buildings without proper heating, ventilation,
lighting, or sanitation; and (4) to provide needed additions
and improvements to existing buildings.
NEW SCHOOLS BUILT
Largely due to the Federal Government's willingness to
share the cost of local public works in order to put men to
work, a number of communities which had no school facili-
1 The sponsors of these school projects contributed 3588,068,908 of the total cost and
PWA the balance of #573,048,936, o f which 93,789,369 represents interest-bearing loans
repayable to the Government.
A MODERN SCHOOL
ties whatever for large groups of their children, undertook
to build schools.
Tucked away up in northern Vermont, plumb against the
Canadian border, sprawling across half a dozen islands and
peninsulas of Lake Champlain is the town of Alburg in
Grand Isle County. It is a hard country, but farming (and
frog catching), milking the cows, and work in the railroad
yards supports Alburg's 1,600 people and the 4,000 in the
With the tradition of free education for all, the Vermonters
of Alburg have provided primary schools for generations.
But the rocky Vermont soil (plus the water barriers of the
lake) made a high school too much of a financial burden for
them to start.
Parents who wanted their children to get the advantages of
a high-school education were faced with two discouraging
alternatives. They could bundle the youngsters up long be-
fore the cold winter dawn, take them to the railroad yards
and put them aboard a train to be taken across the lake to
Rouse's Point in New York State where there was a high
school. The returning train brought the children home after
8 o'clock at night. A 1 2-hour day for education!
The second alternative was to let the children walk the
railroad trestle across Lake Champlain. In blustery winter
weather, this was no pleasant adventure.
After years of discussion, the community leaders got to-
gether and found a solution. With the aid of a PWA grant of
$28,000 they were able to build a $63,ooo high school. It is
not a large or ornate building, but it is the first high school in
Grand Isle County.
Alburg is not an isolated example. At the other end of
the country, in Palm Springs, Calif., a new PWA high school
was constructed to save the children a daily bus trip of 50
miles to the nearest school in Banning.
There are many other instances of PWA aid in bringing
schools where none existed before, but far more typical is the
work done to bring modern, consolidated schools in place of
The little red schoolhouse, like McGuffey's Reader, is the
product of a bygone era. Yet, while the reader has disap-
peared, except as a collector's item, the little red schoolhouse
is present in many localities. There are 142,000 of them out
of a total of approximately 246,000 schools. In these little
structures, a single teacher most often teaches children of all
ages and all grades, and these children must prepare them-
selves under such handicaps for the future. Despite the ap-
pearance of economy, educators point out, the little one-room
schools are expensive anachronisms, for it may cost less to
do a better job in a centralized modern school.
Lyme, Conn., was one of the first communities to seek PWA
assistance in bringing its school facilities up to current times.
Lyme is an old town. In 1789, at the time a little band of
revolutionaries under George Washington had succeeded in
setting up a new Nation, Lyme built a one-room schoolhouse.
The town added four more one-room structures by 1847.
That completed the school program. They were good schools
by the standards of those times. However, they lacked
toilets, ventilation, and proper lighting. Heat was provided
by cast-iron stoves.
As the years passed, Lyme changed from an agricultural-
fishing village to a unit in New England's industrial set-up
a stop on the Boston Post Road, over which rumbles the
major traffic from New York to the Northeast.
Long before 1933, everyone was ready to admit that Lyme
had gotten its money's worth out of its century-old schools.
Something better was needed for the children. But it was
not until PWA was set up that the school districts could get
together with hope of a new building. An application to
PWA brought them an outright grant of 38, 400 for a $32,732
modern school plant. They built themselves a trim one-
story field stone and concrete structure with four classrooms,
an auditorium, and domestic-science and manual-training
facilities. The building, adapted to local architectural style,
accommodates 160 pupils, a few more than the five one-room
buildings it replaced.
Lyme offers a typical example of what PWA has been
doing to help in the movement toward consolidation. In a
number of instances, PWA has cooperated with State educa-
tion authorities and planning boards, as well, toward this end.
In Virginia, for example, progressive educators have urged
consolidation for a good many years, and in this they were
encouraged by the State planning board. Applications
received by PWA from individual school districts were
referred to the State department of education and the plan-
ning board, and as a result consolidations were effected. In
Charlotte County, a new modern school replaced six existing
By providing assistance for the construction of 791 con-
solidated schools throughout the Nation, PWA eliminated
1,582 obsolete structures. But PWA assistance, in actual
operation, consisted of more than loans and grants of money.
Legal experts helped to simplify the process of forming new
school districts and financial experts helped develop new
methods of borrowing funds and marketing bonds. More-
over, the movement has been given impetus by the construe-
tion of new and improved PWA-financed roads and highways
on which school buses 2 can travel.
The types of schools needed most vary as shifts in popula-
tion and age groups take place, and new methods of education
develop. America has a declining birth rate, and the ele-
mentary-school population has been decreasing for several
years. But more parents want their children to have the
advantages of a high-school education. High-school popu-
lation has more than doubled since 1920, and is till growing
at the rate of 300,000 pupils a year. Moreover, the tendency
toward urbanization has added to the problem of overcrowded
When PWA arrived on the scene, there were 2,700,000
pupils going to school in temporary shelters. Hundreds of
thousands of others were attending on the platoon system,
one set arriving very early in the morning and rushing
through their lessons by noontime to make way for a later
shift. In some extreme cases two and three pupils had to
share a single desk.
To overcome this deficiency and also to provide facilities
for modern education, such as laboratories, shops, and audi-
toriums, communities participating with PWA in the public
works program not only built new schools, but also built
additions and made improvements to existing structures.
It has been estimated that PWA projects have added to
the educational plant of the Nation 4,300 auditoriums, 3,500
gymnasiums, 1,800 libraries, 1,350 shops, 890 cafeterias, and
approximately 12,000 other units including laboratories,
study halls, and science and commercial classrooms.
Wherever existing buildings could be utilized, and thereby
save expense, PWA projects provided merely for improve-
ments. In Philadelphia, Pa., for example, the board of
public education received a PWA allotment for alterations
2 PWA also made various allotments for school buses. In Beckham County, Okla., for
example, an allotment was made for the purchase of 3 buses to pick up the farmers' children
and carry them to a well-equipped school. The State of North Carolina received a grant
of #197,000 to provide more than 750 buses (costing #655,000) for the school children.
A NEW CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL IN GLOUCESTER, R. I., WHICH HAS
REPLACED FIVE ONE-ROOM SCHOOLS AS SHOWN IN THE INSET
and additions necessary for installation of modern lighting
equipment in 175 of the city's schools.
School officials generally have felt that in order to provide
reeducation for adults, and training for young people between
the ages of 18 and 21 who are neither at college nor at work,
as well as for young persons who will have to make a living
in business and industry, schools should contain facilities for
technical training. Typewriting, bricklaying, farming, engi-
neering, and machine operations cannot be learned from
books. Special facilities are needed. Therefore, such facili-
ties have been quite common among PWA projects.
Perhaps one of the best illustrations of specialized facilities
is in the Industrial High School at Columbus, Ga. All day
long this two-story building is jam-packed with youngsters
and oldsters learning the textile trades. There are picking
rooms, spinning rooms, weaving rooms, dyeing rooms,
electrical shops, auto shops, manual-training shops, domestic-
science rooms, in fact all the facilities that young men and
women need to fit themselves for a place in local industry.
This building was designed for the needs of Columbus,
which is a textile town. In many other cities, industrial
schools specialize in crafts utilized in the particular com-
munity, or provide general vocational training. Also in
hundreds of general high schools built with PWA funds there
are shops provided on a smaller scale for those students who
desire a specialized type of training. 3
There is an interesting result of this new equipment and
better physical facilities for education. A school in Genesee
County, N. Y., built over 55 years ago, was staggering under
a load of 180 pupils. The PWA application called for a new
building to accommodate 300. Embodying agricultural
shops, laboratories, and industrial training, the new school
was completed in December 1936. When it opened its doors
for the next school term 300 pupils enrolled. New educa-
tional facilities had persuaded many students to go on with
their education. In addition several neighboring communi-
ties subsequently closed their schools and sent the children
to the new school, bringing the total enrollment close to 400,
again creating an overcrowded condition. Centralization of
school districts was carried out in the area, and the consoli-
dated school district undertook with PWA aid to build two
additions to the new school building to take care of an ex-
pected enrollment of 6oo. 4
The demand for more and better education continues
beyond the elementary and high schools into colleges and
universities. As a result, many cities have improved their
facilities for higher education, and the young men and women
seeking a better place in life have turned in increasing num-
bers to the new opportunities. In Brooklyn, PWA helped
build a complete new college costing $5,900,000. It was
dedicated by President Roosevelt, and shortly after the
ceremonies, 11,000 students were using it.
8 PWA has also allotted funds for handicapped children in many cities. For example,
a grant of $98,214 enabled Indianapolis to build the $218,000 James E. Roberts school for
crippled children. This two-story building has ramps and elevators in addition to stairs.
Extra wide corridors lead to the usual classrooms, and to the special physiotherapy rooms.
These contain special booths, a large hydrotherapy tank built up from the floor, sitz baths,
rhythm and exercise rooms, and on the roof is a sun deck for heliotherapy.
4 The centralized school district also undertook with PWA aid the construction of a new
school a few miles away.
Most land-grant colleges and State universities, long-
established, have sought PWA help for modernizing science,
mechanical, and technical facilities, and for housing students
and faculties. The University of Alabama is characteristic
of what a university has done with PWA help. Thirteen
separate projects costing $2, 566, 65 5, with an outright PWA
grant of 31,153,365, have provided a new science building
and several dormitories for men and for women.
At Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Va., a
widely diversified group of buildings were made possible by
an allotment of $2,069,338. These structures included two
dormitories; administration and utilities buildings; four
buildings of classrooms; and improvements to waterworks,
heating plant, and sewerage facilities.
In all, PWA has made allotments to 662 college projects,
with a total construction cost of 3198,164,000. Out of 69
land-grant colleges, PWA helped build new facilities on all
but 8 of them.
TRAINING FOR INDUSTRY. A TECHNICAL CLASS IN A READING, PA., HIGH
SCHOOL, LEARNING HOW TO HANDLE MACHINERY
It is interesting that many colleges are financing their 55
percent of the cost of dormitory projects by revenue bonds
based on the rents charged for rooms. They are self-liqui-
dating revenue projects.
Of course, adult education is not confined to colleges.
Most new schools are built to provide for service also to
adults seeking further chances to learn in the evenings, and
they are being used for that purpose.
And rounding out the educational facilities, PWA has
approved applications for 105 libraries, to provide reservoirs
of knowledge for all to use. In many cases private me-
morial funds had been left to the cities. These funds were,
in most cases, insufficient to construct a building and con-
sequently remained unused until PWA grants made up the
necessary amount to go ahead with construction in depres-
sion years. The beautiful Rundel Memorial Library in
Rochester, N. Y., was built in this way.
In addition to giving assistance to local communities for
schools, PWA made allotments for Federal projects. Uncle
Sam's service training schools at West Point and Annapolis
have been refurbished with PWA funds. The Military
Academy received allotments of $3,483,464 for 20 projects
which included new barracks, officers' quarters, a gymna-
sium, nurses' quarters, warehouses, stables, and shops. At
the Naval Academy, 36 PWA allotments totaling $5,324,057
provided new radio equipment, hospital facilities, a chapel
extension, officers' quarters, and repairs to a number of
services such as the power and heating plant, the mess hall,
roads, and in cooperation with the civil authorities provided
for a new sewage disposal plant. The famed snow white
uniforms of the cadets will be kept clean in a new laundry.
On the western reservations the Government has built
schools on the Federal lands reserved for the Indians. In
6 years, PWA allotted $6,141,000 for 90 projects on 45 reser-
vations. These included elementary and high schools, dor-
mitories, and laboratories. In the same way, PWA allot-
ments have materially helped in Alaska and the Canal Zone,
and have provided new buildings and equipment for Howard
University at Washington, D. C.
Non-Federal, as well as Federal, applications have re-
flected the Nation's growing concern over unsafe and un-
sanitary buildings and equipment. The President and the
Administrator have determined that these cases should
receive every consideration. A typical engineer's report
graphically shows conditions at Kanawha City, W. Va., at
the time they made application for PWA funds :
A cheap building poorly constructed. Walls are out of plumb. Many
families refuse to send their children to this school. Site is a swamp.
Insanitary toilets in basement that is flooded several times during the
year. Drinking facilities limited. Very poor lighting facilities. Some
rooms are so arranged that windows are on the right of pupils seated.
The new building will permit the establishment of an adequate junior and
grade school organization in this community.
Every day, every year, five schools burn. To eliminate
schools that are a daily threat to children's lives, PWA, in
providing funds for their replacement, required that every
new school, built with PWA funds, shall have sufficient
resistance to fire so that every child has plenty of time to
leave the building. This meant no dead-end corridors to
trap youngsters, and plenty of exits. Sixty percent of new
school buildings completed with PWA funds before 1939
replaced fire hazardous buildings.
Leading engineers throughout the country developed a
new type of earthquake-proof schools for Los Angeles which
should protect school children from disasters similar to the
one that occurred in 1935 (see ch. XVIII).
In assisting local school authorities, PWA has helped set
new high standards of construction and safety in the educa-
tional fields. One very important point must be remembered
in this connection. While PWA has made no attempt to
dictate to the local school boards what kind of a building
they should build, nor to control the curriculum, it has
insisted that the best common practices of the building and
safety codes should be met.
STANDARDS OF CONSTRUCTION
The results of this effort are shown in a survey by the Office
of Education which queried school superintendents who had
experience with both buildings constructed with PWA help,
and buildings without assistance from PWA. Answers were
received from 817 school superintendents.
These superintendents were asked, Were the school build-
ing standards for the PWA school buildings as compared with
other buildings higher, about the same, or lower?
Of the superintendents: 47.4 percent replied that they were
higher, 47.2 percent said they were about the same, 2.7 per-
cent found that they were lower, and 2.7 percent gave no
reply. A further break-down of this figure showed, as might
be expected, that PWA high standards were of more help to
rural schools than to those in large cities. Of the rural school
superintendents 53.7 percent found PWA standards higher.
In the larger cities, the school systems generally had com-
plete staffs specializing in school construction. Yet 32.9
percent of these cities volunteered that PWA standards were
higher, and 61.1 percent found them about the same.
The second question inquired whether construction of
school buildings under PWA regulations was better, about
the same, or poorer. Of the superintendents 48 percent
answered that it was better, 44.7 percent said it was about
the same, 4.4 percent said it was poorer, and 2.9 percent did
The next question asked, Were plans and specifications
for school buildings more complete, about the same, or less
complete? Of the superintendents, 48.1 percent answered
more complete, 46.4 percent said about the same, 2.9 percent
thought they were less complete, and 2.6 percent made no
The fourth question inquired if fairness in competition for
PWA contracts was fairer, about the same, or not so fair. Of
the superintendents, 22.4 percent thought it was fairer, 70
percent replied it was about the same, 4.2 percent said it was
not so fair, and 3.4 percent made no reply.
The last question asked if accounting methods developed
under the PWA were better, the same, or poorer? Of the
superintendents, 59.2 percent said they were better, 33.8
percent said they were the same, 2.9 percent replied that they
were poorer, and 4.1 percent did not answer.
Useful as PWA loans and grants have been, much as PWA
has done to raise the standards, school building construction
has nowhere near been restored to predepression levels,
which in turn was not enough to make up for the lag in
school construction during the war.
THE MEDICAL AND DENTAL COLLEGES LABORATORIES BUILDING OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, LOCATED IN THE HEART OF THE WEST SIDE
MEDICAL CENTER IN CHICAGO
Aids to Health
ALMOST a million people stay in
bed each day not because they are
lazy, or because they enjoy it, but because they are sick in
hospitals. On an average day, 4 million more Americans are
ill enough to stay away from schools or their jobs, or other
activities. While most of these have minor ailments such as
colds, many of them are disabled seriously enough to require
hospitalization or clinical treatment. But only a small per-
centage can receive such care, for the simple reason that
there is not enough space in public hospitals to provide for
There are only 1,100,000 beds at present to provide for all
kinds of patients general, tuberculosis, mental, and other
special cases. America needs a third more beds. The
United States Public Health Service estimates that the
country needs 400,000 additional hospital beds to meet
minimum professional standards of adequate care.
PUBLIC HEALTH NEEDS
The shocking shortage of health facilities in the United
States has been called to public attention many times by
medical welfare and health groups. In July 1938 the Presi-
dent called a National Health Conference, 1 at which the whole
grim picture was dramatically presented. A technical com-
mittee, composed of medical experts, reported after a Nation-
wide health survey that the health of thousands upon thou-
sands of Americans was in jeopardy through lack of pure
drinking water and sanitary sewage systems; that millions of
people have no ready access to clinics, hospitals, and other
modern facilities for treatment of illness; and that thousands
die every month of disease that medical science can cure.
Medical science has made magnificent strides, but it is of no
help if it cannot be made available to the people.
America is still behind the times, medical experts state,
so far as adequate health care of its citizens is concerned.
The depression, with its concurrent malnutrition, poorer
housing, and lower living standards threw an unprecedented
load on the hospitals. At a mental hospital in the Middle
West, each new truckload of patients meant that an equal
number would be allowed to u walk away" to make room.
At a great metropolitan hospital in the East, patients had
to be placed in corridors of the service buildings. This was
not callousness; it was the result of the tremendous pressure
In a Southern State, an iron cage on a truck toured the
State picking up mental patients, carting them to a central
wooden hospital. So great was the need for space that there
1 Sponsored by the President's Inter-Departmental Committee to Coordinate Health
and Welfare Activities. This committee appointed a technical committee to make a survey
of the Nation's health needs, and proposed a national health program. See Proceedings
of the National Health Conference, Govt. Printing Office, 1938.
CHARITY HOSPITAL, NEW ORLEANS, THE LARGEST MEDICAL INSTITUTION
IN THE SOUTH, WHICH HAS REPLACED THE OLD HOSPITAL SHOWN IN THE
could be no room between the beds. If two patients got
into trouble in the far end of the room, the nurses had to
remove their shoes and skip over the bodies of the intervening
patients to tend their charges.
The technical committee found that 40 percent of the
counties in the United States were without a registered
general hospital. They found that 60 percent of the States
had fewer hospitals than could be considered adequate. The
need for public hospitals was most urgent, since the private
hospitals, with expensive rooms, were out of reach of the
majority of citizens. The committee found that either
because of the location of existing hospitals, or because the
patients were unable to purchase the services, general hospital
care was not available to a large part of the population.
The committee also estimated that normal increase in
hospital beds should be 25,000 a year. PWA has provided
121,760 beds in hospitals costing 3367,659,880. Therefore,
PWA has provided the equivalent of 5 years' normal growth.
PWA, however, has not enabled the Nation to catch up
with the growing demand for hospitals, although it has
provided 35 percent 2 of the total increase in hospital facili-
ties from 1933 to 1939 during a time when the need for new
facilities was most urgent. PWA has helped those who
could least afford hospital facilities by providing for publicly,
or Government-owned hospitals. With PWA funds the
Federal Government has provided new facilities for the
growing load of sick veterans and for men in active service,
as well as vastly increasing medical research stations. En-
couraged by PWA funds, thousands of communities have
taken up the burden of constructing hospitals to catch up
with their local needs.
PWA-financed non-Federal hospitals can be classified into
three or four major types of hospitals general hospitals,
those specializing in mental cases, tuberculosis cases, and
homes for the aged and indigent. 3
In the South, as in some other regions, the deficiency
of general hospitals has been acute. At New Orleans,
PWA has helped build one of the largest institutions, the
Charity Hospital, sponsored by the State of Louisiana.
Costing $13,000,000, it will be one of the greatest hospital
plants in the world, with a capacity for 3,000 patients.
This 22-story cream-colored limestone building has been
designed with the latest and best improvements in equip-
ment. Its dozens of operating rooms will not only be air
conditioned, but will be the first to be equipped with ex-
plosion-proof operating lights, designed to prevent recurrence
of the disasters in which the intense heat of the light, or an
accidental spark set off highly explosive anesthetic gas. In
its X-ray and theurapeutic clinics, the myriad ills of man will
2 Expenditures on PWA hospital projects as compared to total expenditures for hospital
construction during the same period.
3 A summary of non-Federal hospital projects classified by type is given in table 12 in the
NUMBER OF BEDS
REPRESENTS 10,000 BEDS
receive the best treatment available. In addition, like most
good hospitals, Charity Hospital will be an educational
institution for completing the training of medical students.
Students from Tulane and Louisiana State University will
observe operations and autopsies performed, and make the
rounds with famous surgeons. Included in the project are
the numerous facilities that must go with a great hospital
plant. There is a nurses' home as large as many big city
hotels. A utilities plant will provide heat, light, and power,
making the healing center independent of interruptions in
vital services, likely to occur when the load is greatest, such
as at flood times.
Charity Hospital is a State institution, providing free care
for citizens living in the southern half of the State. This is
a starting point in helping patients over a large area. But
there was, and there still is, a great need for small but modern
general hospitals in rural areas all through the country.
The hundreds of general hospitals built with PWA funds
have provided many of these.
Availability of these small general hospitals will mean
the saving of many lives in childbirth and surgery cases,
and with the tragic growth of automobile accidents, the
ready accessibility of such hospitals for emergency cases
may mean the difference between life and death.
PWA has also helped in such urban hospitals as the General
Hospital in Boston, where a PWA grant added 300 beds to
the capacity. And the same story can be told time and
again by merely varying the location to Dallas, to Pittsburgh,
to Baltimore, to Miami, and to scores of other communities.
In some cases complete new hospitals have been built and,
in others, vital additions and improvements have been made.
However, the majority of public hospital beds in the
United States are occupied by nervous or mental patients.
In 1937 there were over 400,000 such patients. And each
year the Nation must plan on caring for 11,500 patients
more than the year before. This does not necessarily mean
that the United States is getting crazier every year. It is
partly the result of the breaking up of the family unit which
used to keep its ill members at home, and partly the result
of decreasing financial ability of people to care for their own
dependents. Because of the long period of treatment for
mental patients, the task of caring for them has been a
problem for the State and local governments. 4
In line with the general averages, more than 50 percent of
the PWA hospital allotments have been made for construc-
tion of hospital facilities for nervous and mental patients.
In the non-Federal program alone, 49,725 beds have been
added for the treatment of mental illnesses, 8,304 more for
the care and treatment of the feeble-minded, and an additional
1,870 for epileptics.
There have never been enough beds to take care of mental
patients. Since PWA started, impressive strides have been
made. A few States such as Connecticut, New York, New
Jersey, North Carolina, and Arkansas have almost caught up
with their needs. Most States have not.
In Arkansas the Census Bureau found in 1934 that there
were twice as many inmates in asylums as could be properly
cared for. One of the earliest applications PWA received
was for a project that would add buildings at the State
asylum near Little Rock. Arkansas is now in the front
rank of States which are meeting the demands made for
care of the mentally ill.
Rhode Island is another State that could not meet the
demands for mental care until PWA granted an allotment
which helped finance $6,000,000 in additions to the asylum
at Howard and the institution for feeble-minded at Lafayette.
In 1934 institutions built for a capacity of 1,550 inmates,
staggered with a load of 2,232. The PWA allotment pro-
vided accommodations for 2,620 patients. Today Rhode
Island has facilities adequate to meet its burden.
At Moose Lake in Minnesota a PWA allotment enabled
the State to build a complete new $2,181,500 unit in the
4 The technical committee reports that 96 percent of beds in all mental hospitals are
operated by State and local governments.
State asylum system. On 1,700 acres in Carlton County
there have gone up a new administration building, men's
receiving hospital, women's receiving hospital, auditorium,
gymnasium, service building, women's dormitory, men's dor-
mitory, nurses' home, doctors' home, male employees' dor-
mitory, two residences, power plant, garage and shop build-
ing, freight depot, dairy barn, horse barn, chicken house,
piggery, and three cottages for farmers. This project in-
cludes landscaping, roads, and equipment for buildings and
for the farm.
Many of the mental hospitals are built in the midst of
farms as the Moose Lake plant is. This not only serves to
lower the cost of maintenance by having the inmates raise
their own fresh foods, but provides a form of occupational
therapy for the patients.
Many schools for feeble-minded and epileptic children
have been built on the same principle. At Mansfield the
State of Connecticut maintains a school, which with the aid
of a PWA grant of $2, 576,700 provides living and hospital-
ization facilities, as well as farm and shop work adapted to
the abilities of the patients.
In all, PWA has helped provide more adequate treatment
for those in need of mental hygiene and for the care of
defective children in 40 out of the 48 States.
Tuberculosis hospitals follow mental and general hospitals
in number, on the PWA roster. In the last few years the
dreaded "white plague" of our fathers' time has been brought
largely under control. PWA has lent aid to the work that has
fought this disease to a standstill. The great strides made in
the treatment of tuberculosis, the increasing success of the
medical profession in halting the ravages of the disease has
created a tremendous demand for facilities where modern
treatment and research can be carried out. Like mental
diseases, advanced cases of tuberculosis require long periods of
treatment. For most patients the cost of this treatment
CHILDREN ARE GIVEN SUN-LAMP TREATMENT IN THE ORTHOPEDIC CLINIC,
PART OF THE ILLINOIS STATE RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL HOSPITAL IN
would be prohibitive without assistance from States and
Florida illustrates how acute the lack of facilities for the
treatment of tuberculosis has been in some States and how
this lack has been met through PWA help. In Florida by
1927 the death toll from tuberculosis had reached a thousand
a year. It was estimated then that there were 1 1,000 known
cases of the disease in the State. At the same time in the
whole State there were available only 185 beds in publicly
owned hospitals for the treatment of the disease.
When the full facts about conditions were made known, the
Florida Legislature established a special board to deal with the
problem. After an extensive survey, the board recommended
the building of five sanatoriums. With little money to meet
its problem, the board turned to PWA for aid in constructing
the first of the five treatment centers. This sanatorium,
built at Orlando, cost $805, 890, of which PWA furnished
^639,890 in loans and grants. The sanatorium houses 400
In all PWA has provided 22,401 new beds for the care of
tuberculosis patients in institutions at a total cost of $8 5,972,-
91 5- 5 While this is the total number of beds for the checking
and cure of advanced cases, due to the improvements in
methods of treatment, new techniques in preventive medicine
are pointing the way to cutting down on the ravages of tuber-
culosis while cutting the cost of treatment. The President's
committee has recommended the construction of health
centers where diseases such as tuberculosis would be diagnosed
in incipient stages, before the patient was really sick, and
treatment applied in time, would check the disease.
In New York City the program of building health centers
on a widespread scale has been carried on with PWA funds.
Similar centers are being built in other parts of the Nation.
In this connection, many new PWA-financed schools have
been equipped with health clinics, where children can be
examined periodically and their parents warned of troubles
which may later grow serious. Not only will this type of
preventive medicine mean much in saving human suffering,
but it will mean a dollars-and-cents saving in expensive
HOMES FOR THE AGED
At the other end of the human span are the PWA-financed
charitable homes for the aged, for those whose life work is
nearly over. On a grassy knoll, overlooking the rugged hills
of New York's Westchester County is the county home built
with a PWA grant of $5 25,000. Here the sun streaming in
the great windows finds a solarium on the east and west expo-
sures. Between are compact neat little rooms for single
people and some slightly larger for couples. Inside the build-
ing is a cheery dining room, a small assembly hall, complete
hospital facilities for the infirm, and a tiny chapel, where last
rites may be performed for those whose duties to this society
Throughout the Nation, PWA has helped provide 6,614
new beds for the aged in charitable homes costing $12,604,-
5I4. 6 Most of these homes, like various hospitals, are run
5 Of these, 17,340 are in non-Federal projects costing $67,91.3,740.
6 Of these 5,867 are in non-Federal projects costing $i 2,376,054.
in connection with farms, to provide fresh foods and to
While the majority of the hospital facilities have been built
by State and local communities with the aid of Federal
grants, PWA funds have provided for 12,584 additional beds
in 151 Federal projects at a cost of $36,887,384. The Veter-
ans' Administration alone has built 43 PWA-financed hos-
pitals, clinics, and homes, providing 7,793 beds. The War
Department, Office of Indian Affairs, the Navy Department,
the Department of Justice (in connection with prisons), and
the Treasury Department have provided the remainder.
OTHER HEALTH FACILITIES
Although all the classifications above, both non-Federal
and Federal, show how PWA has provided new hospital
beds, this does not cover the field of PWA help to public
health, for a great number of applications were for service
and utility buildings in connection with existing plants.
There were hundreds of projects for rebuilding kitchen
facilities, boiler plants, power and light plants, nurses'
homes, administration buildings, staff quarters, garages,
water-supply systems, and other utilities. These added no
beds, but in many cases made additional beds available in
the hospital buildings which had formerly been needed for
There is still another type of medical project which does
not provide beds, but is of great importance. PWA has made
allotments for construction of medical schools and dental
schools, where medical students and graduate doctors will
receive more adequate training. Syracuse University has
long been a major factor in training doctors for the central
New York area. So old and so dilapidated had the school
plant grown that it was in danger of losing its Medical
Association rating. Being a private institution, it was not
eligible for a PWA grant, but PWA made a $825,000 loan
which enabled the authorities to build a modern plant to
carry on the work.
The allotments to the State colleges have been of great
importance. The University of Indiana had been conducting
classes at Bloomington in a medical building constructed for
a capacity of 30 students in 1884. Remodeling and new
equipment in 1911 enabled it to serve 60 students, but it was
far too small for the 120 who were crowded in. A PWA grant
helped build a beautiful new three-story stone and concrete
school of medicine, costing $469,650. The University also
has a medical center in Indianapolis. Because of the need
for space, PWA helped finance a $637,983 medical and clinic
building, whose five floors contain examination rooms,
laboratories, offices, wards, and private rooms. It is virtually
a hospital, and will furnish added instruction to advanced
The University of Illinois had been training its medical
and dental students in a ramshackle old building in the
midst of Chicago's growing West Side medical center. For
many years increasing enrollment and new research activities
were badly hampered by lack of space. Finally, a PWA loan
and grant provided the University with a 1 5-story laboratory
building for the medical and dental colleges.
Medical buildings and clinics, dispensaries, and research
centers have also been built as educational projects for such
universities as the Universities of Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas,
Louisville, and Maryland.
An important phase of medical care has been the provision
of out-patient departments, dispensaries, and serum centers.
Manhattan's famed old Willard Parker Laboratory, long a
major source of serums for the prevention of virulent disease,
had grown so old and unsanitary that it was condemned.
This meant that the hundreds of health departments through-
out the Nation that depended on it for certain serums which
could not be commercially supplied, would be left without the
life-saving capsules. In response to this need, PWA made a
$700,000 allotment to rebuild the plant and carry on the vital
Even among the specialized hospitals built with PWA
funds, the hospital at Rolla, Mo., is unique. The State board
of health applied to PWA for a grant of $61,000 to build a
new hospital for the treatment of trachoma, a virulently
contagious disease of the eye, making great inroads in the
region. The State legislature appropriated $75,000, and the
citizens of Rolla provided a site. The new hospital contains
60 beds, and the most up-to-date equipment known for the
treatment of trachoma.
Throughout the Nation there have been more than 4,393 of
these miscellaneous medical projects, costing $17,519,491.
Each of them really deserves a chapter in itself. The most
that can be said is that all stand ready to render service to
All PWA projects are socially useful but there are few types
of projects more so than the hospitals which its funds have
made possible. The United States is still under hospitalized,
but without PWA's help during the last few years it would
have been faced with a more tragic inadequacy of modern
Despite the more than 121,000 beds added to the Nation's
hospital resources through PWA during the last 6 years there
is yet much to do. To bring the country's hospital facilities
to an adequate standard the technical committee prescribed
36,000 beds a year and the establishment of some 500 health
and diagnostic centers in areas now inaccessible to hospitals.
Trying to cure a disease after it has wrought havoc in the
body is necessary, but it is far more intelligent to prevent
disease in the first place. What use is it to build hospitals
and clinics just to fill them with cases of water-borne disease
from an unsanitary water supply? What use is it to build a
fine water distribution system that takes its water from a river
polluted by the discharge of raw sewage from the next town
upstream? Each of these types of facilities is an outpost in
the chain of fortresses needed to protect our health.
AN INTERIOR VIEW OF THE NEW SEWAGE-TREATMENT PLANT AT PERTH
AMBOY, N. J. THIS PROJECT IS ONE OF 16 CONSTRUCTED OR IMPROVED
WITH PWA AID BY NEW JERSEY COMMUNITIES IN ORDER TO ABATE
POLLUTION IN THE RARITAN RIVER
NO SELF-RESPECTING fish
would enter the mouths of
many American rivers. If it did, it would face a terrific
struggle for survival among the sewage, floating cabbage
leaves, tin cans, orange peels, garbage, street refuse, indus-
trial wastes, and other debris that competed with it for the
The silvery frost fish, a delicacy for which fishermen have
spent many happy hours angling, used to abound in the
Raritan River, in densely populated northeastern New Jersey.
But that was almost two decades ago, when the waters
of the stream were relatively pure, and men as well as fish
swam in it. As late as 1922, Rutgers University, which
graces the river's banks, held an Olympic tryout there.
Five years later, however, that would have been impos-
sible. The intense industrialization of the area which began
during the war years, and the increase in population to 250,000
people in that i,ioo-squa re-mile drainage area, brought about
a befouling of the waters that menaced public health, caused
a drop in real-estate values along its shores, and seriously
threatened the rich shellfish areas of Raritan Bay. Out of the
1 6 municipalities that dumped sewage into the stream, 10
had no treatment works, 5 others had old and inadequate
works, and i had a plant which could be made to operate
efficiently with minor improvements.
The pollution finally became so unbearable that the State
department of health ordered 1 1 of the municipalities to cease
discharging untreated sewage into the river. The courts
held the department to be right. The communities said
they had no money to correct the situation. And so nothing
PWA, as soon as it was organized, became interested in
the situation. Beginning with an allotment of $920,000 to
Perth Amboy for the construction of that city's sewage-dis-
posal system, financial aid was rendered by 1938 for all 16*
communities for works costing $4,212,000. Now, the
Raritan rapidly is becoming the beautiful stream it once was,
and anglers report the return of the silvery frost fish.
WASTES CREATE LOSSES
Sports, recreation, health, transportation, real property,
and other economic assets all suffer from stream pollution.
Wastes are no respecters of city limits or State lines. Only a
few years ago, the sewage from Buffalo polluted the Niagara
River used by other cities lower down as their source of
drinking water, culminating in an outbreak of thousands of
cases of illness. For many years the dumping of New York
City sewage, refuse, and garbage fouled the Jersey seacoast
causing physical nuisance, and greatly reducing real-estate
1 Perth Amboy, Highland Park. Metuchen, New Brunswick, Keyport, Manville, Plain-
field, Bound Brook, South River, Sayreville, Raritan, Raritan Township, Flemington,
Somerville, Middlesex, and Woodbridge.
values. Many extensive areas in Pennsylvania and other
mining States bear mute witness to the ravages caused by
mine wastes, with a gray pall blotting out all signs of vege-
tation. Towns in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and practically
every other populous State maintained the stand-by, obnox-
ious dump ground.
An indication of the economic losses of uncontrolled waste
disposal is presented in the report 2 of the joint survey of the
upper Mississippi River made by the State departments of
health of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The report showed an
annual loss to commercial fishing and clamming of $95,000;
annual damage to sport fishing and attendant industries,
$35,000; damage to lands for recreational use estimated at
$1,500,000; and decreased property value in the Twin Cities
For many years it has been a matter of political expediency
for American cities to appropriate for good roads, and dis-
charge raw sewage into streams on the theory that good
streets bring votes while construction of secluded sewage-
treatment plants means bond issues and operating expenses
which raise taxes and irritate voters. Too often the com-
munities lower down on a stream have refused to clean up
because the cities upstream have neglected their responsibil-
ity to the public and industry in the disposal of their wastes.
Under this laissez-faire policy, the conditions of the Nation's
streams have become worse from year to year. The great
wave of intestinal disorders that spread progressively down
the Ohio River following the 1930 drought attacking various
cities in sequence, and the more recent outbreak of over
100,000 cases of intestinal disturbances in Milwaukee, may
forecast more serious disease outbreaks in the future unless
pollution loads are limited.
Today 3 the sewage from approximately 25 percent of the
urban population of the country receives primary treatment
only, while the sewage from 35,000,000 people or 47 percent
of the urban population is discharged untreated into water
2 First Report on Water Pollution, National Resources Committee.
8 National Resources Committee release No. 66, February 1939.
PERCENTAGE OF URBAN
HAVING SEWAGE TREATMENT
EACH FIGURE REPRESENTS 10* OF URBAN POPULATION
bodies. About 2,300,000 tons of sulfuric acid are dis-
charged into streams annually from abandoned and active
coal mines. According to the United States Corps of Engi-
neers, annual losses from acid pollution in the Pittsburgh
district an area with exceptionally acute waste problems
amounted to at least $8,000,000 in 1925.
Damages from such disposal of wastes are more serious in
the Nation's vital manufacturing belt which extends from the
Atlantic seaboard between Boston and Washington westward
to Chicago and St. Louis. This is a zone of concentration of
population and of industry. Fully 75 percent of the wastes-
disposal problem lies within this area and a few outlying
areas on the Plains and the Pacific coast.
SURVEY OF FACILITIES
According to an inventory of sewage-disposal facilities in
the United States in 1938, no section of the country has more
than 70 percent of its urban population served by sewage-
treatment works. The Middle West ranks first in this
respect, while the New England area is at the bottom,
indicating that "the New England and Southern regions have
not advanced their programs for sewage treatment at the
same rate that the country as a whole has achieved." 4
Percentage of total urban population in the United States,
served by sewage-treatment works, according to regions
Middle West 68.5
West of Mississippi River 65.3
Middle Atlantic 52.4
Far West 48.5
Southern 3 T 4
New England 26.0
Effective control of waste disposal heretofore has been
hampered principally by (i) a multiplicity of conflicting
laws; (2) a multiplicity of State departments, agencies, and
municipalities concerned with the administration of stream-
pollution laws, often with conflicting aims and interests and
no mandatory powers; and (3) constitutional or statutory
limitations on the bonding or taxing power of municipalities.
Such were the conditions in 1933 that the problems of
stream pollution by industrial waste and domestic sewage
were outstripping the best efforts of those whose function
it is to effect an economic and regional balance between sen-
sible regulation and industrial expansion.
PWA early recognized the importance and need of sewerage
works and designated their construction as desirable. It
made allotments for 1,527 sewage systems costing more than
$466,000,000, representing n percent of the estimated cost
of all PWA non-Federal work. Sewage-treatment plants
alone accounted for 873 projects costing $325,358,000.
About 67 percent of all new sewage-treatment plants con-
structed since 1933 have been PWA projects. 5
4 Engineering News-Record, Vol. 122, No. 3, January 19, 1939.
5 See tables 9 and 10 in the appendix.
In Iowa, furthering a State-supported drive to stop the
dumping of raw, untreated sewage into the State's rivers
and streams, PWA aided communities in undertaking the
construction or improvement of more than half a hundred
sewage-disposal plants at a cost of about $9, 280,000.
This construction was the response to efforts to end a con-
dition of pollution the State health department long had
considered "very serious," from health and sanitary stand-
The fight to free Iowa from the scourge of sewage pollution
brought State legislative action in 1924 with a law forbidding
cities to dump untreated sewage into rivers and streams. It
took further tangible form in State health department
"desist" orders in 1931 and 1934, subsequently upheld by the
State executive council.
The orders required 14 cities and towns on three of the
principal river systems, the Des Moines, Iowa, and Cedar,
to show cause why they should not dispose of municipal
sewage through treatment plants. Other communities over
the State, with less acute conditions, needed treatment plants
or additions to existing facilities. Prevented by financial
considerations from proceeding with their needed develop-
ments, Iowa communities turned to PWA for assistance.
PWA grants and funds supplied by the communities them-
selves made the construction possible.
With the exception of Ottumwa and Marengo, all 14 of the
"cited" cities undertook sewage-plant projects. The dump-
ing of untreated sewage into the waterways amounting to
millions of gallons a day has been curtailed sharply. At
Des Moines, for example, one outlet for treated sewage was
designed to replace more than half a hundred separate units
for untreated city waste.
NEW YORK STATE PROJECTS
Although State laws governing stream pollution in New
York date back to 1903 and much effort was expended by the
State health department in remedying conditions, it was not
until Federal aid was made available that real progress was
achieved. In the period 1934-38 more sewage-treatment
plants have been constructed in New York than in the pre-
vious 30 years. In this achievement the policy of PWA was
not to usurp any of the powers of the State authorities. In-
stead PWA assisted the State agencies through close coopera-
tion so that in design and construction the projects fulfilled
The State department of health of New York has been
endeavoring particularly to clean up the Hudson River and
New York Harbor, Lake Erie, and the Niagara River.
PWA assistance in providing sewage-treatment plants for
Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Tonawanda, and the Coney
Island and Ward's Island plants at New York City as well
as many plants on the Hudson River, is resulting in the
elimination of the pollution of these waters. The pollution
load of the Niagara River has been reduced to such an extent
already that the need for water-purification chemicals
formerly used by the waterworks plants to purify the river
water has been reduced considerably. The millions of bath-
ing patrons using the Coney Island beaches annually are
being furnished a water free from the former sewage filth
The whole New York Harbor clean-up is an excellent
example of interstate cooperation and the use of regional
authorities to effect a reduction in pollution of common
waters. The Interstate Sanitation Commission, set up in
1930, attempted to carry out a complete program, but until
Federal aid made possible the construction of 14 sewage-dis-
posal systems on the Hudson River and in the New York
Bay region an area of 12,000,000 population, progress con-
sisted mainly of extensive planning. In other watersheds
throughout the Nation, interstate authorities are also being
established to handle common problems of this nature.
PROJECTS IN OHIO
In Ohio, although statutes have been in effect for more than
30 years, real progress in the abatement of stream pollution
has been confined to the past 10 or 15 years, and especially
the period since 1933. About 15 years ago a State-wide
survey of stream conditions showed that approximately 400
miles of the 12,000 miles of streams in Ohio were badly
polluted. Although there were some 60 sewage-treatment
works serving municipalities, less than one-half were giving
satisfactory results. The failures were due largely to neglect
and need for improvements to plants. With PWA aid during
the period 1933-37, $^3, 000,000, or more than twice the
amount spent on sewage-treatment improvements in the 6
years prior to Federal aid, added 1,790,000 people or approx-
imately twice the population contributary to sewage-treat-
ment plants in the prior period.
The greatest single sewage-disposal project of its type in
history was successfully completed by PWA in Chicago
(see ch. XVIII), ending a generation of legal battles in which
States bordering on the Great Lakes, and States touching the
Mississippi River were involved in the litigation, which was
settled by the Supreme Court. The lake States did not want
their water drained off to flush Chicago's sewage down the
Chicago and Illinois Rivers to the Mississippi, and the river
States did not want the city's wastes under any circumstances.
As PWA studied the Nation's sewerage problems, it
adopted a policy of refusing to be a party to the construction
of any sewerage system which permitted untreated wastes to
enter into any lake or stream so as to increase pollution. As
a result the construction of many disposal plants was hastened.
The examples of progress achieved in sewage-treatment
plant installation in Iowa, New York, Ohio, and Illinois are
typical of other States. In a number of instances, there have
been comprehensive clean-ups of whole drainage areas, such
as the Raritan River valley in New Jersey.
Fox RIVER DRAINAGE BASIN
The Fox River area in Wisconsin may serve as another
case in point. The Lower Fox River is a waterway about 38
miles long in northeastern Wisconsin, connecting Lake Win-
nebago with Green Bay, and has a drainage area above the
mouth of the river of about 6,430 square miles. The serious
THE EASTERLY SEWAGE-TREATMENT WORKS, PART OF THE VAST SEW-
AGE-TREATMENT PROGRAM UNDERTAKEN WITH PWA ASSISTANCE IN
pollution of the Fox River has been under investigation by
the State board of health for many years. The population
contributing sewage from the adjacent cities is approximately
140,000. The waste from paper mills discharged into the
river comprises a large part of the pollution, increasing the
quantity of sewage to the equivalent of a population of
800,000. The condition of the stream particularly in the
summer has affected the use of the water for bathing and
recreational purposes and as a source of water supply by
Sewage-treatment plants have been constructed with the
aid of PWA for Oshkosh, Neenah and Menasha, Appleton,
Little Chute, Kaukauna, De Pere, and Green Bay, at an esti-
mated total cost of ^5,000,000. With the exception of Neenah
and Menasha, which have a joint plant, all the plants provide
for primary treatment by plain sedimentation or chemical
treatment, and for chlorination of the plant effluent during
periods of critical river flow, as approved by the State Board
of Health. These plants have resulted in practically cleaning
up the lake and the river.
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA
Another example of PWA aid in cleaning up a drainage area
is that of the Potomac Drainage Basin in the Washington
metropolitan area and nearby vicinity. The population of
the entire basin in 1932 was estimated at 1,200,000, half in the
city of Washington and about 85,000 in the Washington
Suburban Sanitary District.
Prior to 1933 the District of Columbia including various
Federal Government agencies, the Washington Suburban
Sanitary District, and other communities in Virginia and
Maryland were discharging raw sewage into the Potomac
River and adjacent tributaries. As a result, the river 6 was
polluted with sewage for a distance of more than 20 miles
downstream from the Anacostia River. PWA allotted a total
of $i 5, 613, 635 on numerous Federal and non-Federal sewers
and sewage-treatment works in Virginia, Maryland, and the
District of Columbia, so that the wastes of more than 85 per-
cent of the population of this area will receive at least primary
Joint efforts and cooperation between local governments
and the Federal Government, such as that which has taken
place in the Potomac River clean-up, have not been uncom-
mon. Large Federal institutions are located in many munici-
palities throughout the country. Included among these
institutions are schools, hospitals and prisons which are usu-
ally dependent upon the local source of supply for water,
sewers, power, and other utilities. In many instances the
population of such an institution, when compared with the
population of the municipality in which it is located, exerts
considerable influence on the need for local public works.
The United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md., has
a population of some 5,000 people compared with a popula-
6 Report of Board of Sanitary Engineers to the Board of Commissioners, District of
Columbia, Sewerage and Sewage Disposal, December 22, 1933.
tion of 7,700 for the city of Annapolis. In 1933 it became
necessary to increase the facilities for the collection and dis-
posal of sewage in Annapolis. The availability of PWA funds
for both Federal and non-Federal projects made possible the
adoption of a satisfactory agreement between the Federal Gov-
ernment and the city of Annapolis. The city built adequate
facilities for both, PWA providing the full amount for the
Academy's share, and granting an allotment toward the cost
of the City's share of the works.
A striking illustration of community benefit resulting from
Federal-local cooperation exists in the sewage-disposal under-
takings on the Mississippi River in the vicinity of Minne-
apolis and St. Paul, Minn. A $6, 623, 500 non-Federal sewage-
disposal project to clear the Mississippi at the Twin Cities
was begun in 1934. There is, however, an army post at Fort
Snelling and unless measures were taken to care for Fort
Snelling, it would constitute a source of pollution in that re-
gion and serve to detract from the objectives of the Twin
Cities project. Consequently, the War Department made an
exhaustive study of the various methods for the efficient dis-
posal of sewage from the Fort Snelling Reservation and con-
cluded that the most practical plan to dispose of sewage was
through a connection with the Minneapolis system under an
agreement with the local authorities whereby they would be
paid for the cost involved in treating the additional wastes.
Accordingly, an application was made to the PWA by the War
Department for this work and $275,000 was allotted for the
construction of the interceptor sewer system at Fort Snelling.
The construction of utilities as necessary incidents to proj-
ects undertaken by Federal departments and agencies them-
selves with PWA funds has meant much in the betterment of
health and the improvement of property in the communities
in which these Federal projects are situated. A total of
$3,451,530 was expended on 118 projects 7 including sewage-
disposal plants, sanitary and storm sewers, as well as refuse-
7 Including combined sewer and water projects brings the total to 138 projects costing
GARBAGE AND REFUSE DISPOSAL
While progress in the construction of municipal sewage-
disposal systems during the past few years has been consid-
erable, communities have made less progress in constructing
incinerators and other garbage and refuse disposal plants.
Only 41 projects costing a little less than $11,000,000 have
been undertaken. Many of these, however, represent not
only the finest plants of their sort in the world, but archi-
tecturally constitute attractive additions to the collection of
public buildings in America.
Under PWA, the trend toward mechanization of garbage
disposal, and especially sewage treatment has advanced.
Definitely on the increase are complete chemical and me-
chanical treatment plants utilizing byproducts such as sludge
for fertilizer and gas for power.
Despite the tremendous increase in sewage treatment dur-
ing the past few years, a vast amount of improvement is still
necessary before the problem is solved.
At the present time i% billion gallons of sewage a day
receive adequate treatment. Another i% billion gallons
receive only primary treatment. And 2% billion gallons of
raw filth are being poured into the Nation's lakes and streams
each day without any treatment.
It does not follow that all wastes require full treatment.
But it does mean that each problem must be studied and
that treatment adequate for that particular locality must be
provided. This is necessary not only from social necessity
but from the viewpoint of dollars-and-cents economy, for
community after community has found that pollution costs
money, in terms of lowered income from fishing, from recre-
ation areas, from potential industries, and decreased property
The public has been awakened to the importance and need
for waste disposal control works. Hundreds of communi-
ties now plan to provide such facilities, waiting only for the
time when they can successfully finance their projects.
A MILLION-GALLON WATER-STORAGE TANK ERECTED AT NEWPORT NEWS,
VA., TO REPLACE AN OLD TANK WHICH HAD BEEN CONDEMNED
Water Is Life
WATER is life. Apparently this fun-
damental fact must be learned on the
battlefront of experience again and again. When this lesson
is forgotten, even for a moment, the consequences are imme-
diate and disastrous.
A brief lapse in maintaining the purity of a water supply
occurred in 1928 in Olean, N. Y., a town with a population
of 21,000. Typhoid germs rode into the Olean homes through
the water pipes. Two hundred and thirty-eight cases of the
disease resulted. Twenty-one people died. Court claims
against the city mounted to a total of $425,ooo. 1
1 See "Water-borne Disease in New York State", by Earl Devendorf, Associate Director,
Division of Sanitation, New York State Department of Health, Journal of the New England
Waterworks Association, September 1933, p. 298.
To prevent similar disasters, engineers everywhere to whom
the Nation has entrusted the purity of its water supply
must be eternally vigilant.
Everyone realizes the necessity of a pure water supply
from the standpoint of health. But the quality of the
water supply is equally important. People will not and
cannot drink muddy, discolored, or malodorous water, or
water with harmful dissolved salts. Water must not only
be satisfactory for drinking purposes, but also for household
use and for industry.
Hard water, that is water with lime or certain other dis-
solved salts, requires the use of more soap to clean clothes and
dishes, and that costs money. Unsatisfactory water also
prevents industries from utilizing locations that are other-
wise suitable. To some plants water is as important as fuel
or raw materials. The chemical and dyeing industries offer
VALUE OF GOOD WATER SUPPLY
The presence or absence of an adequate water supply can
affect the destiny of an entire municipality or commercial
area. Webster, N. Y., gave proof to this theory. It installed
a waterworks system in 1936, which not only provided 1,500
citizens in the community with pure drinking water but also
stimulated a wave of local prosperity.
Webster is in the heart of the central New York State
farming belt. Every autumn long trains puff out of this
lakeside region, bound for the Nation's dinner tables. The
canning industry is one of the backbones of its business life,
providing employment in the area. But a lack of adequate
water for the washing and canning processes, hampered
Webster for years.
Webster outgrew the well-and-bucket water-supply system
back in 1910. Some springs were found and developed near
the town. There was a little boom then. But it did not
get far, for the growth of population soon outgrew the supply,
and the springs dried up in the summer when the water was
needed most. For 10 years water had to be brought in by
truck from nearby towns. In some years trucking the
water cost as high as $15,000 for the summer months.
Webster had about given up hope of building an adequate
water-supply system when an application for a PWA grant
was acted upon favorably. Work began at once. The
completion of the project in 1937 called for a village-wide
Shortly thereafter a nationally known packing plant took
option on property and began construction of a new packing
plant. That meant a good many hundreds of thousands of
dollars in annual wages to Webster citizens. Other concerns
also became interested. The people, with new pay rolls in
sight, began to build homes. Property values in Webster
Webster housewives found the new water to be soft, and
soap bills were cut. Also with the opening of the new system,
fire-insurance rates dropped.
Neighboring towns watched all this with interest. As a
result Forest Lawn, Penfield, and Union Hill have contracted
to buy excess Webster water for their people, and have built
mains to connect with Webster, bringing considerable revenue
into Webster's treasury.
Other communities have also learned from experience the
economic value and convenience of a dependable domestic
water supply. Communities which have constructed new
systems or have made improvements and extensions to their
present systems including treatment of the water, have been
rewarded by better public health, lower fire-insurance rates,
financial savings resulting from less damage to domestic
plumbing and industrial equipment.
A good, adequate water supply is not readily available to
many cities in the United States. Most communities were
founded where water was available, but growing populations
and increased demands for industrial, commercial, and domes-
tic use have made these original supplies inadequate. Some
cities now have to go many miles for their sources of water.
Los Angeles water must cross mountains and deserts for a
distance of 250 miles to make its rendezvous with the house-
hold faucets. New York City obtains a major portion of its
supply from the Catskill Mountains, and is already reaching
toward the Delaware River, 115 miles away, for an addi-
tional supply. Denver must bring a part of its water across
the Continental Divide (see ch. XVIII). Even where suffi-
cient water is available, treatment to remove mud, discolora-
tion, and high mineral content must often be applied to make
the supply satisfactory.
The whole problem of water supply is interwoven with that
of proper sewage treatment and stream pollution. While
Chicago, for example, can easily reach out into Lake Michi-
gan for its needs, it has had to reverse the flow of the Chicago
River so that its wastes would not be poured into its source of
Other cities have had to put in expensive purification plants,
and add chemicals to their drinking water on account of
stream pollution that in many cases had been caused by
neighboring municipalities. They had to add chlorine to
destroy harmful germs; install filters consisting of sand beds;
and to treat the water chemically to take out mud and dis-
coloration and to remove the dissolved salts.
Because an adequate water supply is a prime necessity,
communities have made more progress in this field than they
have in sewage disposal and abatement of stream pollution.
Because of increased demands made by modern industrial
techniques and the tremendous new load brought about by
the advent of air conditioning with its use of water for washing
and cooling air, the supply in many cities today is nowhere
In the decade 1919-29, municipalities spent an average of
$119,000,000 a year for new waterworks construction. By
1933, however, the amount dropped to less than $47,000,000.
Between 1933 and 1939 new construction rose to an average
of approximately $85,000,000 a year. PWA financed proj-
ects accounted for about 50 percent of this total. In all,
PWA made allotments for 2,419 non-Federal waterworks
projects costing $311, 845,653,* actual construction varying
from 37 to 77 percent of all new non-Federal waterworks
construction a year.
The benefits of this program have been widespread.
Communities in every State have undertaken new construc-
tion of this type, the number of projects varying from 167
in Ohio to 5 in Delaware.
Typical of the assistance rendered to hundreds of villages
and towns by PWA in installing new waterworks is that
furnished by Wilton, Ala. (See ch. XVIII.)
The resourcefulness of engineers in providing water for
municipalities in regions of long summer droughts is illus-
trated by the story of Snyder, Okla. Wells drilled into the
semi-arid prairie yielded bitter-tasting, hard water in good
times and yielded nothing in summer, when water often
had to be brought in by railroad tank car and doled out to
the citizens. Three new water supply wells which were pur-
chased in 1936 for $15,000, failed in 1937. Snyder had
almost given up hope, because any wells would be as bad and
unreliable as the old ones, and the 1,200 people could not
finance any other water system with their own resources.
The town's engineers, however, were given new hope by
the prospect of Federal aid. The only feasible source of
supply was Otter Creek about 5 miles away. They designed
an earth-fill dam 40 feet high, a spillway out of solid rock,
filter plant, pumping station, two 50,000 gallon reservoirs
and a distribution system. PWA approved a grant of
$56,700. The town was able to raise the $69,300 remainder
of the funds necessary. Construction started in December
1937 and 6 months later the rock reservoir behind the dam
was filled and a dependable supply of sweet, soft water was
turned into the mains.
In Chicago, PWA helped the city start on a water-treat-
ment program that has long been needed. The south end of
Lake Michigan, from which Chicago's drinking water comes,
2 See tables 9 and u in the appendix.
has periodically been badly polluted by sewage and industrial
wastes. In 192324 a localized typhoid outbreak occurred
on the south side due to this contamination. Although the
water was chlorinated, there were occasions when the water
was too highly polluted to make chlorine alone effective.
As far back as 1930 Chicago voted in favor of filtration by a
majority of 69 percent of the ballots cast. Inadequate
finances prevented any action being taken until July 1938
when a PWA grant of $5,415,000 started work on the first of a
huge series of plants, whose estimated cost is $21,000,000.
A modern rapid sand filtration plant is designed to treat
300,000,000 gallons of water a day removing dirt, harmful
bacteria, bad odors, and discoloration. The project also
includes metering of house connections to avoid waste and
limit the capital cost of the plant.
PROPER WATER SUPPLY
PWA has been instrumental in detecting high fluorine
content in water, which causes mottled enamel teeth in
growing children under 8 years of age. This dental defect
has been definitely noted in at least 260 areas in 26 States. 3
In certain sections, such as the Texas Panhandle, this condi-
tion is widespread and serious. PWA has required due
warning to the citizens of the fluorine content of the water
and its effects. In cooperation with the State departments of
health, it has encouraged treatment of such water. In cer-
tain cases, such as that of Bloomdale, Ohio, where, because
of local financial conditions, the State department of health
could not enforce necessary treatment of the fluorine water,
PWA was able to help finance the cost of such treatment.
Another requirement by PWA that communities definitely
prove a good adequate source of water before installing a
water-distribution system has resulted in saving hundreds of
thousands of dollars for communities.
In the case of Mina, Nev., where the State board of health
did not have any sanitary engineering personnel, PWA sent
3 See "Facts about Fluorides," by Dr. H. Trendley Dean, dental surgeon, U. S. Public
Health Service, in Engineering News Record, April 21, 1938.
an engineer to investigate a proposed waterworks system,
involving a water of questionable quantity. It was found
that due to recent earthquake shocks the flows of certain
nearby springs had increased substantially and one spring
especially could be depended upon to furnish an adequate
supply of water for the needs of the town. It was found
further, that the town on the assumption that a private
individual owned both the land and water of this spring, had
entered into a contract with this person, to buy his land and
water rights for $3,500, upon which the town had made
several payments. The PWA engineer found that under
Nevada water law the supposed owner had no legal right to
the water, regardless of the fact that he had lived there for
many years and used a small portion of the water for domestic
purposes. The county officials were informed of this fact
by the PWA and the town filed an application with the Ne-
vada State engineer to appropriate i second-foot of the unused
spring water as a protective measure, to insure the use of
the water for the new proposed town waterworks system,
thereby assuring a substantial financial saving to the town.
The PWA waterworks program has resulted in the instal-
lation of many water-softening and iron-removal plants in
accordance with recommendations of State departments of
health, providing water of a more satisfactory quality and
involving less expense in plumbing repairs and the cost of
extra soap and effort required by hard water. Other plants
provided for chlorination of water to insure killing of harmful
bacteria, filtration for purity, and aeration to remove odors.
In connection with PWA waterworks projects, more than 500
treatment plants of various types have been constructed.
An outstanding feature of the waterworks construction
program is the large number of villages, towns, and unin-
corporated communities which have been enabled to install
public water systems. Hundreds of communities which had
been unable to afford public waterworks, formed water dis-
tricts or incorporated as villages or towns in order to obtain
PWA aid in providing the advantages of a public water
system to their citizens. An analysis of the PWA programs
made on January 19, 1937? showed that 700 communities
ranging in population from 200 to 6,000 installed complete
new waterworks systems. Seventy-five percent of the com-
munities had a population under 1,000.
This has meant a major change in the life of many small
communities and villages. Householders that formerly had
to carry water in buckets and pails from back-yard wells, or
from neighbors' wells, or in some instances from the village
pump, now are assured not only of a dependable water
supply but also of one that is safe. For such householders
the old-fashioned methods of hauling water, with their
drudgery, have been replaced by the simple device of turn-
ing a domestic faucet. With all these advantages, the modern
water-supply system is cheaper than installing individual
wells, cisterns, and rain barrels.
Installation of public waterworks systems stimulates
communal growth and industrial expansion. Typical of
many small villages and towns, which like Webster, N. Y.,
have been assisted by PWA, is Tyronza, Ark. (population
573, 1930 census). With a loan of $18,800 and a grant of
$7,200, Tyronza constructed a complete new waterworks
system by July 27, 1935. Between that date and March
30, 1937, 2 new cotton gins, 3 business buildings, and 10
houses were built in the town.
Similarly, among other economic benefits is protection
against loss by fire. The total value of the property furnished
adequate water supply and fire protection by PWA water-
works projects runs into the billions of dollars.
The more nearly new waterworks systems and improve-
ments and extensions to existing systems provide a dependa-
ble and adequate water supply to all sections of a com-
munity, reduces the possible loss from damage by fire, and
lowers the fire-insurance premiums on dwellings and indus-
trial establishments. A study made of the 700 new PWA
waterworks systems, costing $35,250,757, constructed in
small towns and villages, showed that the saving in fire-
insurance premiums alone amounted to $500,000 yearly.
A survey of actual savings in fire-insurance premiums shows
that in four States, benefiting from the PWA waterworks
program, insurance rates on homes have been lowered from
i o to 50 percent. In South Carolina, which had a very high
fire-insurance rate, at least 28 communities which completed
waterworks projects benefited from resultant savings of 34
percent in fire-insurance premiums on brick mercantile
buildings, 43 percent on brick residences, 36 percent on frame
dwellings, and 10 percent on frame mercantile buildings. In
Ohio similar savings have extended to 50 percent on brick
residences and as much as 43 percent on frame dwellings.
In West Virginia, where at least 12 towns obtained new
waterworks through the PWA program, the fire-insurance
premiums were reduced 24 and 16 percent, respectively,
for brick and frame mercantile buildings, and 46 and 43 per-
cent on brick and frame houses. In Texas, among towns
completing PWA waterworks systems, the fire-insurance
premiums were reduced as follows:
Cost of im-
' 3 A
328, 665. 13
60, 634. 97
143, 120. 12
24, 023. 86
60, ooo. oo
62, 678. 44
28, 642. 57
7, 290. 50
20, 735. 20
20, 303. 48
88, 294. 77
4, 625. 46
50, 66 1. 65
46, 666. 41
38, 364. 84
294, 952. 75
108, 543. 25
45, 357- 28
32, 430- 35
Pecos _ _ ________
The benefits of the PWA-financed water systems built in
the depression years have been many. Aside from millions
of man-hours of employment, PWA waterworks have fur-
nished a public supply of suitable water for the first time to a
population 4 of more than 2,000,000.
It must be borne in mind that nearly every one of these
projects is income producing. In a number of cases, the
local share of the cost is made up by the sale of revenue
bonds, based on earned income, and not on general taxation.
The new supplies of water with which have come savings
in fire-insurance premiums, in plumbing maintenance, in
costs of soap and other cleaning agents, have enabled the
construction of new sewage systems, for water is used as the
carrier of wastes. In many communities, the construction
of a waterworks system under an early PWA program en-
abled that same community to build a sewage system with
Federal aid under a later program. About one-fifth of the
waterworks projects should be classed as multiple projects,
where the community undertook to furnish water and sewage
services at the same time (see ch. XII).
The Nation has made great strides toward furnishing the
citizens with adequate supplies of water. But there are still
many small, unincorporated communities which need and
are preparing for public water-supply systems, while many
larger communities find themselves ever in need of extensions
and improvements. With the growing urbanization of the
country and with the new industrial and domestic techniques
calling for ever-increasing supplies of water, the importance
of construction in this field of public-works service will
4 Preliminary estimate.
SUPER PIERS FOR SUPER SHIPS. PWA MADE GRANTS TO AID THE CITY OF
NEW YORK TO BUILD THREE PIERS COMPRISING THE LARGEST AND MOST
MODERN SHIP TERMINAL. DOCKED AT THIS "INTERNATIONAL GRAND
CENTRAL STATION" ARE (FROM TOP LEFT TO BOTTOM RIGHT) THE s. s.
"EUROPA." "REX," "NORMANDIE," "GEORGIC" AND "BERENGARIA," FIVE
OF THE LARGEST SHIPS IN THE WORLD
Sea and Air
A YOUNG country struggling
to extend its frontiers west-
ward to the Pacific, trying to weld a wilderness into a Nation
fostered new techniques of transportation to attain its goal.
As a result, American history is the pageant of the stage-
coach, the pony express, the canal boat, clipper ship, the
steamboat, the railroad, the automobile, the airplane. These
have been America's answer to the challenge to develop a
means of communication to hold together a new, great nation.
The physical frontiers are nearly gone, but the pioneer
spirit in transportation lives on. Time unrelenting in its
passage demands greater speed on land, water, and in the
air. The same spirit that led earlier Americans to develop
these new modes of transportation now demands constant
improvement. Congestion in cities leads to improved traffic
routes. Highways between crowded urban centers are being
separated to provide ways for local and express traffic.
Competition between air, road, rail, and water has raised
standards of efficiency, comfort, and safety. PWA has con-
tributed to improvements in each field according to the
need, and the total is impressive. About one-third of all
PWA funds have been allotted for transportation, providing
for Federal and non-Federal projects with a total estimated
cost of 31,910,159,33s. 1
By far the greatest amount, $750,632,994, went for roads
and highways. Typical of the benefits this type of im-
provement has produced is the Oregon Coastal Highway.
THE OREGON COASTAL HIGHWAY
Mountains and sea combine to make the Oregon coast the
mecca of tourists and sportsmen. Deer and game roam the
wooded slopes of the Coast Range; trout and salmon fill the
streams; the finest beaches in the world curve in long shining
arcs from headland to headland, but the wide estuaries of
the Pacific, cutting deep into the narrow strip of land between
the shore and the coastal range put up such an effective
barrier to travel that for many years, few visited the region.
When the State highway commission, seeking to find a
short route from California north, began the task of opening
the coast highway, they found many sections still Indian and
primitive. The few roads were merely reminders of the
wagon trails of the pioneers. There was a suspicion that the
pioneers had followed original animal trails, and on a clear
day, some of these could still be seen.
But the State highway commission did not have funds to
pave the highway, and bridge the six rivers and bays that
space the 200 miles between Newport and Gold Beach.
At one point, unwary travelers frequently were trapped in
quicksand, forced to hurry to firm land while their car slowly
1 For summary of all PWA allotments for transportation projects see table 13 in the
disappeared. Native guides earned livelihoods by piloting
strangers around the bog. At other points, the hardy motor-
ist admired the view while the tide receded, and he could
drive over the beach, less treacherous than the bogs.
Estuaries were crossed by private ferries, which ran when
the spirit and pecuniary motives moved them. Missing the
evening boat meant waiting till morning. It was an expen-
sive and unhurried trip. Few residents of the towns had
ever visited neighboring villages.
Gold Beach, Marshfield, and Newport, realizing their
growth was retarded, formed the Oregon Coast Highway
Association, to improve the coast road. The State went as
far as it could, even completed the first of six proposed toll
bridges, and took over the ferries in 1932. Then work
stopped, and an application was made to the Reconstruction
Finance Corporation for a loan.
The application was still pending when PWA undertook
to aid national recovery and made a loan of 33,993,800,
and added an outright grant of $i ,608,200. The remaining
bridges spanned Coos Bay, the Umpqua River, the Sinslaw
THE UMPQUA RIVER BRIDGE AT REEDSPORT, OREG., ONE OF FIVE BRIDGES
BUILT IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE NEW OREGON COASTAL HIGHWAY
River, Alsea Bay, and Yaquima Bay. Complex engineering
problems had to be overcome, in the face of rushing tidal
currents. Solid rock was found for some foundations. Other
great bridges rest on piles. In some sections, tidal currents
washed sand out from around foundations, but several thou-
sand cords of brush checked the current, caused the sand to be
redeposited. Over 182,000 barrels of cement, 12,300 tons
of steel, 16,000,000 feet of lumber, 504,000 feet of piling, and
2,272,575 man-hours of labor at construction sites went into
The residents of the towns along the coast joined in a great
celebration at Newport, when the Yaquima Bay Bridge was
opened in 1936, for the job was complete. Motorists found
400 miles of uninterrupted, broad, smooth, paved highway
from the California border to Astoria, Oreg.
Visitors promptly took advantage of the new vacation land.
Traffic more than doubled. Prosperity came to many com-
munities in the wake of singing tires. Merchants, hotels,
restaurants, tourist camps, towns, and beach resorts re-
sounded to the merry chime of cash registers.
ADVANTAGES OF GOOD ROADS
Building new arteries of transportation like the Oregon
Highway has had a profound effect on national life. Each
year tourist travel becomes a greater factor in our economic
system. Upon the back of the restless American people
rides a great new industry. Today, the economic welfare of
millions depends on roads. The wages of attendants at gaso-
line stations, barbecue stands, restaurants, ice-cream huts,
tourist camps, and farmers' produce stands are generated by
the passing motorcade.
But roads do more than bring prosperity on rolling rubber.
Figures prove that roads put more direct labor per dollar to
healthful work than any other major type of construction.
Furthermore, they serve other economic and social purposes.
For example, they open up markets to the farmers. PWA
has built over 9,000 miles of farm-to-market roads at a cost of
^93,889,513. Down these roads come a long and varied list of
produce, to grace the Nation's dinner tables, and help diver-
sify the farm production, and on the same roads comes the
farmer's wife to trade in the shopping centers.
Still roads go beyond that, for roads mean better education
to millions of young Americans. The centralized school is
partly a product of good roads, for it depends on the ability
to gather children from a large area. Those same roads also
bring adults to the schools, which in the evenings often become
community centers for adult life.
Hospitals too have been made more available to rural
America because of roads. All have heard of and admired the
country doctor who would abandon his automobile to travel
on foot or horseback to reach an isolated case and operate on
the kitchen table under a kerosene light. Roads changed the
situation, so that patients now can be brought to hospitals-
many of them built with PWA funds following road improve-
In all, PWA has allotted $591,016,109 for the construction
of roads and highways. Up to the start of the current pro-
gram, this money had built, or rebuilt 36,628 miles of high-
ways and roads in every part of the Nation. That is the
equivalent of 12 new roads from coast to coast.
The results of this great program can be seen in the highway
reviews of the engineering magazines. Here headline after
headline reads, "Pennsylvania eliminates hazards," "Rhode
Island plans bypasses," "Connecticut plans arterials," "Vir-
ginia betters surfaces," "Massachusetts work active," "Ken-
tucky modernizes," "Illinois enters rebuilding era,"
"Colorado completes cross-State routes," "Washington im-
proves design standards."
Of course, not all of the work done in the States is the result
of the PWA program, yet a large part of the improvement
that has been made possible, in the last few years has been
financed with PWA funds.
Minnesota provides a typical example. With PWA funds
under the supervision of the Bureau of Public Roads, Minne-
sota has built 2,526 miles of roads and highways costing
Now PWA did not confine its attention to rural areas.
Traffic can get just as hopelessly mired in city streets as in
country lanes. Astoria, N. Y., only three-fourths of a mile
from Manhattan's teeming millions, was just as isolated
before Triborough Bridge was built as Astoria, Oreg., before
the coast highway was completed.
The scope of this work is shown in New York City, where
PWA has helped considerably to remake the transportation
facilities of the Nation's largest city. The great $40,000,000
Lincoln Tunnel under the Hudson was one of PWA's early
projects followed by the $5 8,365,000 East River Tubes still
under construction. Triborough Bridge, along with half a
dozen smaller bridges, opened new arteries in the city's
stagnating traffic stream. A $25,000,000 allotment com-
pleted miles of city-owned subway that had stood an empty
shell until PWA funds opened it to use. Staten Island elimi-
nated a score of grade crossings that had collected a yearly
toll of accidents. PWA funds are now building the great
East River Drive and Belt Parkways, almost 40 miles of new-
type highway destined to speed traffic around congested
The New York picture is not complete without PWA's
great superliner piers a new International Grand Central
Terminal for ocean-going vessels, the widening and deepening
of harbor channels with PWA funds, and the electrification
of the Pennsylvania divisions which helps speed visitors
and commerce to and from the city. It is a scene in which
PWA could be allegorically depicted as striking the traffic
chains which bound the city.
In a thousand other cities and towns, PWA funds have
installed street lights, traffic signals, safety islands; eliminated
grade crossings, built new streets, repaired others; built new
bridges, tunnels, subways; in fact every imaginable improve-
ment to the- Nation's urban gasoline-powered transport
system. In this category PWA has helped build 1,400
projects costing $599,046,187.
From coast to coast, such projects as the Alameda-Contra
Costa Tunnel in California, the Davenport Bridge across the
Mississippi, the Chicago subway, the Deer Isle Bridge in
Maine, the Overseas Highway in Florida, the Mobile Tunnel
in Alabama, are lasting monuments to PWA aid in depression
Perhaps the most notable of these is the subway project in
Chicago which PWA funds made possible after the City
Fathers had discussed the matter and built up hopes for
almost half a century. The only city of its size in the world
without such a convenience, Chicago now plans to relieve
the congestion in its world-famous "Loop" by 7.2 miles of
underground passageway as a start. This $40,000,000 proj-
ect for which PWA made a grant of $18,000,000, is now under
construction, bringing closer to reality the desires of several
generations of Chicago citizens. Completion is expected
PWA's grant of $5,709,000 toward a $25,349,000 addition
to the subways of New York has made 18 miles of empty
RAILROAD UNDERPASS AT SEATTLE, WASH. OVER 600 RAILWAY CROSSINGS
HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED WITH AID FROM THE PWA PROGRAMS
shell that stood idle since the depression set into action a
latent transportation system. The allotment provided for
stations, tracks, signal equipment, ventilation, turnstiles,
and many other things necessary to complete a subway line.
In Philadelphia, a PWA allotment of $2,782,640 helped
build 2.26 miles of rapid transit lines across the Delaware
River Bridge that connects Philadelphia, Pa., and Camden,
PWA with a view to the new needs of the Nation has
joined in helping Pennsylvania to build the new State "dream
highway." One hundred and sixty-two miles from Harris-
burg to Pittsburgh, without an intersection in its entire
length, this new $68,000,000 road has been planned to speed
traffic over an abandoned railroad right-of-way. Eliminating
all grades over 3 percent, the road is to plunge through six
tunnels in the mountains. Outside of the tunnels it is to be
a four-lane road, separated by center grass parkways. The
plans point the way for future types of express roads to meet
new demands of the Nation. This project has been designed
to be a self-liquidating toll facility, as are many of PWA's
great new traffic-handling machines.
Along with the new highways and bridges, PWA has aided
in eliminating one of the Nation's greatest menaces the
railway grade crossing. Under the $400,000,000 statutory
allocation of PWA funds to the Bureau of Public Roads for
highways, 492 grade separations were built. In addition,
communities and States have applied for PWA aid for 40
projects costing $36,292,483 to eliminate 117 of additional
AID TO RAILROADS
Roads have and are remaking the map of the Nation, but
the major cities are still strung, like beads, along the shining
steel lines of the railroads. The mightiest industries are
spiked to the cross ties, for the railroads are still superior in
mass transportation of heavy goods for long distances.
For many years railroads had little competition. But they
suddenly awoke to find the automobile, the truck, and the
airplane cutting into traffic, and their own systems so handi-
capped by antiquated and durable equipment that they
could not meet the needs of a Nation demanding speed,
convenience, comfort, and flexibility.
PWA sought to help the railroads out. Being private
corporations, they were not eligible for grants, but PWA
made loans totaling upward of $200,000,000 to 32 railroads
for improvements so that they might catch up.
The outstanding allotment was the $31,900,000 loan to
the Pennsylvania Railroad 2 for completion of electrification of
its lines between New York and Washington, and $6,290,000
for purchasing electric locomotives, bringing the two cities
I hour closer to each other. On many another railroad,
the Diesel-powered, lightweight streamlined trains, such as
the Rebel of the Gulf, Mobile & Northern Railroad in the
South, and the Flying Yankee in New England, that daily
flash thousands of people from city to city, are the results of
PWA loans. Still other railroads used PWA funds to iron
"kinks" out of roadbeds, improve rights-of-way.
These allotments, made in the early days of PWA, enabled
the railroads, normally one of the Nation's great employers,
to recall many men to their jobs. In July 1934 nearly 70,000
men were working in on-the-site employment in work financed
by PWA railroad loans. And the majority of these loans,
$115,000,000 of them, were sold to the public at a profit of
$4,534,000 to the Government. Another $50,000,000 were
resold to issuers at a premium to the Government of $282,000.
Out of the total of $200,974,500 of railroad securities, only
$36,000,000 are still held by the Government.
Water still provides the cheapest form of transportation
for tonnage. Long ago, the Federal Government recognized
'Total loans to the Pennsylvania Railroad amounted to 370,165,000 for completing elec-
trification of its New York to Washington division, building 68 electric locomotives and
7,000 new freight cars, and purchasing 33 electric locomotives and 98,787 tons of rail.
the significance of water transportation and aided in the
construction of lighthouses, harbors, and canals. PWA
carried on this work with allotments of $278,693,815 for aids
Practically all major harbors in the east, south, and west
coasts, and in the Great Lakes had channels widened and
deepened or other work done by PWA funds allotted to the
Army Engineers Corps. Bigger ships came in closer and
safer, guided by lighthouses and radio beams, PWA built.
In dredging rivers and in channel rectification, the most
important work was done on the Mississippi River, from its
mouth to St. Paul-Minneapolis, and on the Missouri, Ohio,
and Illinois Rivers. All-year facilities are being provided for
the movement of ocean-going vessels between the Gulf and
the Great Lakes. For this work PWA allotted more than
$100,000,000 for 96 projects. Improvement of facilities in
canals and channels is typified by the Cape Cod Canal;
deepening and widening of channels in New York Harbor,
in Great Lakes ports, and along the Gulf coast.
PWA has furthered the construction of dams and locks on
the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The Fort Peck
Dam on the upper Missouri is one of the largest and most
important for which PWA has allotted more than $49,000,000.
This will insure navigation on the Missouri River the year
round. Bonneville Dam in the State of Washington may be
mentioned again, as may many others heretofore mentioned.
Wharves, piers, docks, and waterside cold-storage plants and
warehouses have greatly added to the facilities for handling
foreign and coastwise shipping. New York constructed three
superpiers costing $5,000,000 with the aid of PWA and pro-
vided facilities for handling with dispatch the passengers and
freight of such liners as the Queen Mary and Normandie.
Others are typified in the facilities constructed at Morehead
City, N. C.; Mobile, Ala.; Gulfport, Miss.; and Houston and
Corpus Christi, Tex.
PWA has allotted $37,550,462 for 579 projects to provide
new Coast Guard ships, and Coast Guard stations to protect
Finally, in this summary of PWA aid to the communica-
tion system, there is the newest medium of transport the air.
Destined to become the most important medium in a speeded
up world, PWA has aided here also.
As the volume of traffic by air increases the need for air-
ports and safety devices become more imperative. Allot-
ments have been made for 354 Federal projects costing
314,773,008 to improve landing fields, for route lighting,
radio beams and mapping, and for developing new safety
devices and new techniques. Most interesting of the latter
are the three wind tunnels at Langley Field, Va. In one, a
full-sized airplane may be tested in flight, in a giant wind
tunnel that generates a gale of 200 miles an hour. In other
tunnels wind velocities of 400 to 750 miles an hour are
preparing for future air transportation at speeds of tomorrow.
On the shore of the historic Potomac River, a few miles
from the White House, Federal agencies have undertaken the
construction of a 75O-acre air terminal, which is designed not
only to serve the Capital with aviation transportation facili-
ties for land and sea planes, but also as a model for the rest
of the country. This new airport provides four paved run-
ways, 150 to 200 feet wide and at least 5,000 feet long, with
unobstructed approaches in eight directions at flight angles
as flat as i-to-4O, together with necessary drainage, lighting,
fencing, and other facilities. The plans made also include a
large terminal building and at least one hangar w r ith auxiliary
At the same time local communities have undertaken 30
projects mostly airport construction costing 3 10,645, 922.
The local governments have put up 36, 082, 669 to win Federal
grants of $4,563, 253. An outstanding example is the fine
new field with shops, hangars, and administrative buildings
at Providence, R. I., which although unfinished at the time,
withstood the disastrous hurricane of September 1938.
Of course, all projects not completed before the Civil
Aeronautics Authority was created in June 1938 were asked
to obtain approval of that body before final payment could
be made by PWA. Under the current program all applica-
tions were approved by CAA before PWA allotments were
On land, sea, and in the air, PWA has helped the Nation's
all-important transport mechanism to try to catch up with
the demands of a new day.
CITY HALL SKYSCRAPER. KANSAS CITY, MO., CONSTRUCTED THIS STRIKING
BUILDING WITH PWA ASSISTANCE
THE vast majority of PWA allot-
ments have been made for the serv-
ices which governments have traditionally supplied, such as
roads, water and sewage systems, hospitals, and schools the
services that people everywhere undertake in common.
People today have come to expect government to furnish a
vast number of other services "to establish justice, insure
domestic tranquillity, to provide for the common defense,
promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of
liberty * * *"
This demand for public services has thrown a tremendous
burden on government machinery and on existing facilities
for handling the business of government. Administrative,
legislative, and judicial tasks have multiplied. By and large
the housing of these functions in an efficient, decent manner
has not kept pace with increased functions and duties.
Among the thousands of applications which have come to
PWA, there are many that reflect the needs of the country in
this respect. They have shown public business carried on in
buildings designed for the needs of a half a century ago.
A COUNTY COURTHOUSE
Alameda County, Calif., decided that the Hall of Records
(the county courthouse) in Oakland, which had been built in
the 1 870*8, had outlasted its usefulness. The citizens found
in their Hall of Records no source of civic pride.
It was such a little courthouse for such a big and wealthy
county. It was so little that the citizens had to pay $25,000
a year extra to rent space for essential functions in buildings
scattered around Oakland. Sixty years of records bowed the
floors. Since the structure preceded modern plumbing and
electric lighting, the building was unsanitary and uncomfort-
able. Although it was red brick outside, the inside was a
wooden shell a fire hazard that may have burned, destroying
all the valuable records with it.
A Federal grant of $462,000 started a new $1,988,000
eleven-story building soaring skyward in 1934. Into this
new structure were gathered all the scattered administrative
activities l of the Alameda County government. Although
big enough to house all officials, the county officials, having
witnessed the tremendous rise of services required of the
government, provided for later additions.
Alameda County's new courthouse is only one of 630 State,
county, and municipal buildings and city halls costing
$148,374,660 which have been built and for which PWA
made allotments. This does not include one new State
1 Twelve courtrooms for the superior courts, i justice courtroom, district attorney office,
law library, county board of supervisors, and offices for county clerk, registrar, recorder,
treasurer, auditor, tax collector, assessor, coroner, surveyor, accountant, purchasing agent,
development commission, charity commission, and library. Also superintendent of schools,
board of education, bureau of weights and measures, public administrator's office, adult
PWA was called on for funds for a State capitol because of
what happened on the night of April 25, 1935. On that night
Salem, Oreg., was roused by clanging bells, and screaming
sirens. The State capitol was in flames. Firemen and citi-
zens alike battled to halt the blaze which swept through the
beautiful Georgian structure. The next morning found the
building and most of its valuable records in ashes.
That same morning, while Oregon took stock of its loss,
PWA officials called the Governor and offered to help the
State rebuild its capitol. A short time later a new building
was rising on ground still dark from the ashes of the old one.
Oregon's new capitol was built from a design selected in a
Built of warm white marble, transported across the con-
tinent from quarries in Maine, and topped by a golden
statue depicting the Oregon pioneer, the capitol, while of a
new architectural style, is typically American. More im-
portant documents in its vaults are forever safe from the
ravages of fire.
The financial assistance of PWA, of course, has been always
as readily available to small communities as large ones. This
has been true of schools, and hospitals, and waterworks, and
it has also been true of city halls and courthouses.
Featured in a nationally distributed newspaper cartoon as
a town without a courthouse, a church or a railroad, Gaines-
ville, county seat of Ozark County, Mo., has, with PWA aid,
lost that dubious claim to fame. The town applied for and
received approval of a $16,380 grant toward the $36,400,
two-story courthouse and jail erected in the center of the city
In many small towns, municipal structures house a variety
of services. When the old combination fire department,
municipal building, police station and jail in Delaware, Ohio,
burned down, city offices were lodged in an abandoned high
school; the city prisoners were boarded in the county jail;
and the fire department lodged in rented garage space. A
new fireproof building now provides a fire station and dormi-
tory, a police garage, city office, jail, council chamber, engi-
POLICE AND FIRE STATIONS
Coupled with the prime governmental functions housed in
new city halls are such services as police and fire protection.
Increased safety for millions of urban and suburban dwellers
has been provided through the aid given modern facilities for
these arms of government. In addition to the police and fire
stations included in city halls, PWA has made grants for more
than 315,315,500 worth of municipal safety facilities such as
new fire and police stations, police radio-communication sys-
tems and fire-alarm systems.
It is hard to calculate the dollar return from these improved
protective facilities. But in many cases cities have been able
to obtain substantial reductions in their theft and fire insur-
ance rates paid by their citizens after the new equipment was
installed. Charlotte, N. C., with $41,000,000 invested in
200 cotton mills, cotton-oil plants, knitting mills, refining
plants and other industries had much at stake. Yet the
application to PWA stated that some sections of the city
were a mile and a half from the nearest fire-alarm box. An
allotment provided 126 new alarm boxes, which have resulted
in reductions in insurance rates.
Modern fire stations and equipment have been made pos-
sible in dozens of cities. In Des Moines the central fire
station was located in a congested area so that there were
consistent delays in answering calls and an ever-present
danger of serious accidents as fire equipment was being moved
through heavy traffic. A new station was built in a location
from which most parts of the city can be reached with
PWA has also improved police-communications systems.
In Boston a PWA grant enabled the city to install a radio
transmitter, and place receiving equipment in the squad
cars, as well as provide for the complicated coordination
system which enabled headquarters to keep tab on the loca-
tion of each car and check how quickly calls for aid are
answered, and send additional help if necessary.
Many of the new police headquarters built under the
program have modern crime-detection laboratories, dormi-
tories, and garages for equipment, and also provide temporary
JAILS AND PRISONS
Many of the jails replaced by new structures have been
"disgraceful," according to the applications. In Atlanta
the city jail was both inadequate and overcrowded. Before
the new structure was erected, prisoners slept on the floors
of the multiple cells or "tanks," when the cells were crowded.
Police headquarters were likewise cramped. A new five-
f ! ! i \y..vi
p i ! ~jiBi
THE NEW CIVIC CENTER IN OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA., SHOWING THE CITY
BUILDING, THE MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM, AND THE PUBLIC SAFETY BUILD-
ING, CONSTRUCTED IN THE HEART OF THE CITY ON LAND FORMERLY USED
BY THE RAILROADS
story structure provides modern office and laboratory space,
a jo-car garage, and four floors of cells.
One application gave a grim picture of conditions in the
old Barton County, Mo., jail.
Jail erected shortly after the Civil War, of pine boards laid flat and
spiked together. Jail always wet and moldy, and prisoners' shoes fre-
quently drop off. Inmates bathe in a washtub and no hot water. Heat-
ing by stoves. Vermin, rats, and mice abound, and rats had to be killed
with a target rifle. Jail breaks are frequent and at will. No fit place for
any prisoners * * * Jail bars easily cut in two with corset steel
handmade files. Practically every grand jury for 30 years has condemned
the jail as unsafe and unsanitary, and has recommended a new jail.
The Barton County jail was replaced by a modern $36,363
For the more permanent guests of law-enforcement agen-
cies, PWA has provided new prisons and penitentiaries,
including additions and improvements to some of the best
known penal institutions. At Sing Sing, Auburn, Joliet,
Atlanta, and Alcatraz prisoners are housed in new PWA-
financed buildings equipped with the latest tool-proof steel
bars and safety and locking devices. In all, PWA has made
allotments for 126 non-Federal prisons and jails costing
$24,478,700 (excluding those in police headquarters and
courthouses), and for 75 Federal prison projects costing
$14,914,000, including new correctional institutions for short-
term Federal prisoners in Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky,
Texas, and Indiana.
AUDITORIUMS AND Civic CENTERS
An enterprise commonly undertaken by cities is the pro-
vision of civic centers and meeting halls. Auditoriums fre-
quently have been included in city halls. Such meeting
places vary in size all the way from small rooms in rural
town halls, through the thousands of auditoriums, gymna-
siums in school projects which are utilized as community
centers, to such great civic centers as the ones in Kansas
City (see ch. XVIII) and in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City has risen, as its citizens say, from tepees
to towers in 50 years. Oklahoma City, like many other cities
in the Southwest, grew so rapidly that it was almost impos-
sible for public building to keep up with its growth, much
less to be planned ahead.
In the I92o's Oklahoma City decided to do some planning.
For one thing the city was cut in half by railroad tracks
which ran right through the heart of town. Removal of the
tracks would solve what otherwise was an almost insuperable
traffic problem, and open up a new business area. In a trade
with the railroads, Oklahoma City obtained the right-of-
way, equal to about four city blocks in the center of the
town, and the railroads routed their tracks through the out-
skirts of the city.
The city planned a coordinated civic center which would
contain a city hall, a municipal auditorium, and a court-
house and city jail. In 1935, with PWA allotments of
^1,462,491, work on the four buildings started simultaneously.
Built of gray limestone, surrounded by landscaped lawns,
walks, and fountains, brilliantly illuminated at night, the
civic center development is today one of the most impres-
sive sights in America.
Buffalo's convention hall and music hall and the audi-
toriums in Topeka, Kans., Fremont, Nebr., Asheville, N. C.,
Mobridge, S. Dak., Barre, Vt., Charleston, W. Va., and
Hammond, Ind., are examples of what some cities are doing
to provide meeting places, as well as to assist local trades by
attracting conventions to their cities. Typical of the in-
creasingly popular community centers in smaller towns is
the new building at Gadsden, Ala. Before the community
center was built there were no adequate facilities for town
meetings, banquets, sports events. Neither was there a
swimming pool within the city. Lumping all their needs
together, Gadsden provided a hall seating 2,000 for meetings,
banquets, conventions, and sport events. The center also
includes a large swimming pool, and a refurbished golf
course. The hall contains stage equipment for theatricals,
offices and club rooms for civic clubs. The center is also
used by the National Guard which has offices and drills
In other cities, armories are used for meetings and conven-
tions. Outstanding among the newly built armories is the
National Guard Armory at Minneapolis, Minn. In 1929 the
old armory, which had been built more than 30 years before,
was condemned, leaving no suitable space for the use of the
area's 18 National Guard units which were scattered through-
out the city in rented quarters.
The State in 1933 established a special commission for the
building of armories and an application was filed with PWA.
The new building, which cost $902,000, contains a main
drill hall with balconies seating 3,500. Supply, staff, and
company rooms are available for each unit and there are two
rifle ranges in the basement. The armory has also been
useful as a center for sports events, which bring an income of
$16,000 a year. This, with revenue contributed by the War
and Navy Departments, the State, and the city of Minne-
apolis, brings the total income to $76,000 while the annual
A MODERN NOTE IN FIRE STATIONS. DES MOINES, IOWA, HAS BUILT THIS
STATION TO HOUSE SOME OF THE CITY'S FIRE FIGHTERS AND THEIR
cost of operating and maintaining the armory is only $28,000.
All together PWA provided allotments of $6,650,258 to
assist in the construction of 50 auditoriums (not including
those built in connection with schools, city halls, etc.)
costing $16,857,400, and 52 armories costing $13,167,800.
Like the armories, many memorial structures built with
PWA assistance are being used as civic centers. The base
of the towering Sam Houston Memorial in Texas contains
assembly rooms and banquet halls that are used for civic
functions. The Will Rogers Memorial at Fort Worth seats
10,000 at athletic events, rodeos, track meets and horse shows.
A number of the projects, such as memorials, are less
typical of PWA projects in general. Nevertheless, these
miscellaneous structures are socially desirable and of per-
manent value. Many of them are set up as income-producing
enterprises designed to increase the wealth of the community
or to provide greater opportunities for residents.
As an example, PWA has helped 21 communities provide
adequate markets where the farmers may sell their produce
to housewives at reasonable prices.
In Columbia, S. C., where PWA financed a new market to
replace one which had been in service for many years and
which was no longer satisfactory, the rental of stalls brings
in approximately $4,824 a year although all charges, including
bond interest, maintenance, and depreciation amount to only
The oldest and most famous institutions of its kind in the
United States is the French Market at New Orleans. Under
the flags of three nations over two historic centuries, the
market has been the chief retail center of the city. Today,
in addition to being a shopping place for gourmets, it is a
great wholesale market where farmers and fishermen sell
their wares. Every day trucks arrive, laden with Florida
cucumbers, Louisiana peppers, Texas broccoli, others with
red snapper and mackerel from the Gulf, shrimp from the
bays, soft shell crabs from the bayous.
A series of low buildings stretching for several blocks, the
market by 1936 was old and, as such, difficult to keep as clean
and sanitary as the health authorities insisted it should be.
PWA made a loan of $300,000 to a nonprofit association which
operates the market and by 1938 the rehabilitation of the
historic old buildings was complete. The buildings were
strengthened and extended, sanitary floors installed, and
other improvements, including sheds, for the long lines of
trucks which appear at the market every morning before
dawn, were made but the original lines of the buildings
have been kept intact.
Further examination of the list of PWA projects reveals
many another business carried on by local governments for
the common good. In Mobile, Ala., the State built a cold-
storage warehouse as a revenue project. In Port Lavaca,
Tex., the municipality built a cannery so that its citizens
could obtain their share of the Gulf coast oyster and shrimp
canning business. The $78,120 in revenue bonds issued to
finance the local share of the cost of the project are being
paid off out of the income from the processing and canning
plant, ice plant, and the equipment to handle poultry as
well as fish.
The city of Stockton, Calif., received an allotment to
help build a $60,000 cotton warehouse, to be leased to the
Port Authority to afford adequate facilities for handling,
warehousing, baling and shipping of California's long staple
cotton. The project is of benefit to farmers and pickers in
the State and is scheduled to pay for itself in 20 years.
Custer State Park Board in South Dakota applied for aid
in building a State-operated hotel in the Black Hills to
replace one that had been destroyed by fire. The new three-
story hostelry is now being used by tourists visiting Sylvan
Lake near Mount Rushmore.
Not all of these miscellaneous projects have been income
producing in themselves but most of them not only have been
regarded as socially valuable, but have a definite and vital
influence on local economic conditions. Tourist trade, for
example, has been fostered by the construction of boardwalks
at Long Beach, N. Y., and Cape May, N. J.
The long and interesting list of enterprises undertaken by
communities shows America at work during the depression
on undertakings for the common good. The list includes
warehouses, shops, abattoirs, markets, farm buildings, oyster
hatcheries, bird farms, bandshells, fences, refrigerator plants,
and dozens of others. PWA was deluged with applications
for this type of project, many of them proposed by over-
enthusiastic private promoters who in instances had conceived
the idea of letting Uncle Sam hazard the taxpayers money in
speculative ventures. Only a few were able to meet PWA's
rigid requirements. In all, these miscellaneous projects,
though interesting, amounted to only i percent of the total
(For a summary of PWA non-Federal allotments for city
and town halls, courthouses, auditoriums, armories, and other
Government buildings and miscellaneous structures, see table
14 in the appendix.)
WILLIAMSBURG HOUSES IN NEW YORK, THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE SLUM-
CLEARANCE AND LOW-RENT HOUSING PROJECT IN THE UNITED STATES,
WHICH PROVIDES HOMES FOR 1,622 FAMILIES IN LOW-WAGE GROUPS.
THIS PROJECT SUPPLANTED ONE OF THE MOST BLIGHTED SLUM AREAS
A TRIP downtown for the young
ladies of Peachtree Street, Atlanta,
had one discouraging aspect. To get from their homes in
that noted sector to the shopping district by the quickest
route they had to pass a slum. Its gray, dilapidated shanties,
with back yards full of trash, lay adjacent to the campus of
the Georgia Institute of Technology, at the doorway of down-
It was a notorious area. On the books of the police pre-
cinct, on the rolls of the fire department, in the dossiers of
social workers, in the files of the chamber of commerce, the
district was docketed as Atlanta's Problem Area No. I. To
the health department it was a source of potential epidemic.
To the police it was an area in which officers walked in
pairs, and which weekly yielded arrests far out of proportion
in their number to the size of the area. Periodically the
fire department, after heavy rains, would be called to send
trucks and men to carry inhabitants out of flooded shanties.
It was a low-lying, ugly collection of buildings and junk
piles. Its houses were fantastic. Rotting boards hung pre-
cariously by single nails; sheets of tin covered up holes in the
walls. Plumbing was out of doors. It was a blight on the
city and the blight was not static it was moving glacierlike
toward high-priced business property, carrying depression of
values along with it steadily and surely.
That was in 1933. By the end of 1936 the young ladies of
Peachtree Street could have rubbed their eyes in amazement
to see what had happened to Atlanta's prize slum. The
shacks and swampy yards had vanished, giving way to trim
brick apartment buildings and group houses with clean-cut
lines, set amid pleasant green lawns.
Within the buildings were bright, comfortable, and airy
apartments and homes. Sensibly arranged, simple quarters
were occupied by tenants who formerly had lived under over-
crowded, insanitary conditions. There was good equipment
in the kitchens, and the basements contained central laundries
and clean, dry storage space.
For here stood Techwood, built by PWA, the first public
slum clearance and low-rent housing project in the history of
the United States. It was the first product of the long cam-
paign to start slum clearance in America on a worthwhile
scale and to provide decent public housing for people with low
incomes. It was the forerunner of many other housing
projects, the bellwether of a movement that suddenly was to
make sweeping progress in a comparatively short period.
PIONEERING IN HOUSING
No program of the PWA, with the possible exception of the
power program, aroused more controversy than did its hous-
ing activities. Yet no other phase of its work enabled one
branch of social progress in America to take such amazing
strides. Within 3 short years more was accomplished by
PWA to establish good public housing for the underprivileged
in the United States than had been brought about in the
preceding three centuries.
While the enlistment of the Federal Government with
towns and cities to provide public works was a new theory,
nevertheless the type of public improvements in general
were familiar things. But in the field of housing, PWA
brought forth something new in the nature of public works.
Before PWA appeared on the scene, there was no such thing
as a federally aided public housing project to be found in the
United States. Housing, for better or for worse, was a
matter left to private enterprise and philanthropy. This,
despite the arduous labors of the pioneers whose work with
city plans and zoning ordinances opened the public mind
toward good housing.
PWA was placed in the field of public housing through 17
words in the 6,ooo-word National Industrial Recovery Act
of 1933. Those words authorized the Administrator to
include in his program the "construction, alteration, or
repair under public regulation or control of low-cost housing
and slum-clearance projects." These few, simple words
contained the kernel of the idea which bloomed into America's
first housing program. PWA's housing activities cost only
a fragment of the $3? 3 00,000,000 appropriated by the
Recovery Act. But when PWA turned its housing program
over to the United States Housing Authority in November
of 1937, public housing was a going concern. Fifty-one
large-scale projects 1 either were occupied or were being
made ready for tenants; 29 States had passed laws authorizing
their cities to engage in public-housing enterprises, and others
were preparing to enact similar legislation. Sentiment for
public housing was growing like a snowball on a hill, and a
public-housing policy had been adopted as the law of the
The first decision of PWA in regard to exercising the
authority of the housing provision in the act was that private
enterprise should be given a chance to do everything it could.
It laid down a policy that it would advance loans at 4 per-
1 See table 15 in appendix for complete list of PWA housing projects. All of these have
been transferred to the U. S. Housing Authority.
cent to private sponsors who would form "limited dividend"
housing corporations to erect and operate projects. The
sponsors were to put up at least 15 percent of the necessary
capital and limit their profits to 6 percent on their own
Results of this policy were not impressive. Only 7 projects
out of the more than 500 submitted were approved. Their
rents were above the economic reach of slum families, and
without exception the projects were erected on vacant land,
thereby clearing no slums. PWA recognized as a funda-
mental principle that slums should be cleared and that the
rents of any new replacement housing should be at levels
slum-dwelling families could afford. For that reason it was
decided that PWA itself would erect housing in those cities
which requested it.
The impelling need for some program to deal with the
growing slum problem in the United States could not be
The poison of slums was infecting nearly every city in the
Nation although the physical structure varied with localities
and customs. In Memphis and New Orleans there had
developed "arks"- long, two-story structures with 16 or
more Negro families living on each floor, each family having
a single room entered from a balcony hanging miraculously
to the side of the building. In Philadelphia there had
evolved the notorious "bandbox" or "highhat" houses-
three small rooms arranged vertically, with a narrow, spiral
stairway in one corner. If there were any exposure, it
usually occurred on a narrow, frequently crowded, alley. In
New York, half a million people continued to live in old-law
tenements. In San Antonio, Mexican workers huddled in
"corrals," long low buildings with single rooms inhabited by
whole families. In Chicago, the storied Loop was surrounded
by concentric rings of dingy buildings many of which dated
from the great fire.
It was the object of PWA's Housing Division to clear out
as many of these slum areas as practicable and to replace
them with substantial housing. Obviously, with the small
amount of money at its disposal, the Housing Division could
not attempt to do a thorough job of ridding American cities
of all their slums. It was therefore decided that as many of
the worst sections as possible be eliminated and new projects
erected in their place, on the theory that if the idea was good,
it would grow of its own accord. As it proved, PWA was to
demonstrate the value and feasibility of public housing.
Three fundamental considerations dictated the type of new
housing to be constructed. These were the health, comfort
and safety of the families who were to live in the new projects.
It was determined that in order to assure sunlight and air,
buildings would cover only a small portion of the total site;
that durable fireproof construction should be employed
throughout; and that although living quarters in the buildings
should be simple, they should be carefully arranged to allow
for privacy and reasonable comfort.
First projects to go ahead were in Atlanta, because a group
of civic leaders there early interested the Housing Division
in two projects. Cleveland, a housing-minded municipality,
sponsored three developments. Other projects were formu-
lated for Cincinnati, Ohio; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Mont-
gomery, Ala. Purchase of the slum properties was started,
and was carried out by direct negotiation or by condemnation
proceedings friendly and otherwise.
Techwood homes in Atlanta was typical of early Housing
Division projects. On 25 acres of land, 23 buildings contain-
ing 604 living units in apartments and group houses were
erected. They cover one-fifth of the site and are of brick and
concrete construction in a modified Georgian style of archi-
tecture. Living units consist of three-, four- and five-room
apartments and five- and six-room group houses, equipped
with electric lights, electric cooking ranges, and mechanical
refrigeration. The development includes social rooms and
central laundries. Contract for the demolition of the existing
structures was signed in December 1934.
2 I I
OBSTACLES IN THE WAY
The Housing Division pushed a difficult construction
program through a swarm of obstacles. Real-estate interests
who felt the Government was intruding in a field where ex-
clusive rights belonged to private enterprise instigated opposi-
tion. Owners of slum properties who had been extracting
inordinate returns from their rookeries saw their chance to
continue such operations imperiled. Professional obstruc-
tionists, who deplored the slums in one breath inveighed in
another against Federal action to put housing reforms into
effect. Housing advocates whose particular theories as to
design and site treatment were not being followed took to
their pens to heap the program with lofty contempt. Prac-
tical-minded individuals who wanted to stop the program
took to the courts and in the famous Louisville case won a
decision that the Federal Government had no right to make
use of eminent domain to acquire land for local housing proj-
ects, on the ground that housing projects did not serve a
public purpose in its fullest sense. Setbacks also developed
in Washington where the necessity for shifting recovery funds
to sectors where they could be put to immediate relief uses
caused budget difficulties. Despite its handicaps, the
program moved forward. Projects were approved and put
under way in Birmingham, Atlantic City, Charleston, Buffalo,
and in more than a score of other cities.
To plan a city with a population of between 70,000 and
80,000 is no small task. Such a city would compare in size
with Winston-Salem, N. C., or Little Rock, Ark. In essence
this was the problem faced by PWA, but in many ways the
problem was more complex than planning merely one com-
munity. The Housing Division proposed to operate in
many cities. The living habits of prospective tenants varied
considerably, and geographical conditions, which had a
direct effect on types of construction, differed greatly.
While these facts were recognized, at the same time a govern-
ing principle of erecting "the complete community" was
The development of neighborhoods rather than indi-
vidual homes was accepted as a guide not only for the
stability it would give to communities, but also because of
the reduced municipal expenditures it could bring about.
It was possible to junk the old system of "gridiron" street
patterns which largely had been determined by adherence to
the long, narrow individual lot. In its 51 projects, the
Housing Division was able to remodel existing street patterns
and to reduce the necessary street area as much as 30 per-
cent. Similar reductions applied to the residential area of
New York, for instance, could cut the annual cost of its
street department by several million dollars.
Another benefit to be derived from planned neighborhoods,
the Housing Division showed, was the reduction in fire risk.
Slum areas repeatedly have proved to be tinder boxes
kindling for a conflagration. Safe housing, carefully planned,
removed actual fire hazards in many projects.
ECONOMIC LOSSES OF BAD HOUSING
It was noted early by the Housing Division that in addi-
tion to the moral and health menace of the slum, bad
housing areas were costing cities excessive amounts for normal
city services. The cost of supplying these services by far
exceeded the return slum properties paid in taxes. One
survey in Cleveland placed the cost of municipal services in
a small slum area at 31,357,000 annually and its yield at
$225,000 in tax returns. It thus left a deficit of $i, 132,000
for the rest of the taxpayers to meet. In Indianapolis, 10
percent of the population, living within certain well-defined
areas, was draining 26 percent of the funds set aside for
public service. While families living in good housing areas
in Indianapolis required a per capita expenditure of $4 for
city services, the families living under bad conditions
Obviously, the police protection, fire prevention, and health
costs of a city would be diminished in a neighborhood where
good housing replaced bad. To this extent, the planned
neighborhoods erected by PWA brought relief to strained
Because of the size of the developments some economies
stemming from large-scale operations were possible. In
size, the projects ran all the way from the 5O-unit Highland
Homes at Wayne, Pa., with an allotment of $344,000 to the
huge 1,622-unit Williamsburg Houses in New York City,
the Nation's largest, which received an allotment of $13,-
One of the Housing Division's thorniest problems was that
of land costs. In many cases slums were near business areas
and were held by their owners in the hope of eventual busi-
ness or industrial value. In some of these areas rentals
brought large returns compared to the actual value of the
property. For these reasons the prices asked by owners were
sometimes extravagantly high and it was necesssary to enter
condemnation suits to obtain clear titles to property at some-
thing approaching true value. After the Louisville case,
however, the Housing Division, unable to condemn, began
buying vacant sites. Since such areas were usually under
one ownership, they could be obtained with greater speed.
All told, the price paid for land ranged from as high as $4.30
a square foot, in the case of the 25-acre tract for Williamsburg
houses in the heart of the Brooklyn slum area, to four-tenths
of a cent in Miami. The average price was 44 cents per
square foot. The average appraised value of the 51 sites
was $451,430, while the price paid was $393,341.
As the program approached completion, oppositionists who
feared a spread of the public-housing theory sought every
means possible to hamper and embarrass the program.
Charges of waste and extravagance were thrown about with
complete abandon on the theory that if enough mud were
thrown, someone would be hit. Invidious comparisons
sprang up like the flowers in spring. Total costs of projects,
including street paving, utilities, outdoor lighting, and land
cost were divided by the number of living units and the result-
ing figure was compared with the mere construction cost of
In the midst of this situation the Bureau of Labor Statis-
tics of the United States Department of Labor, undertook a
survey of public-housing costs. It published its findings in
May of 1938 and disclosed that the average construction cost
of the dwelling facilities in the public projects was $4,126.
This figure did not take into account the land costs nor other
project costs such as the street utilities, sewers, and lighting
equipment for grounds. The dwelling-facility figure, the
Bureau declared, was the only fair comparative-cost figure,
for, it said, it was the same measure used by it for reporting
private-building costs throughout the United States.
Thirty-three projects, 17 southern and 16 northern, were
surveyed by the Bureau. The average construction cost per
room in the 33 projects, the Bureau found, was $1,169.
Previous charges had put this particular cost as high as
$4,000. The Bureau stated that if it had included extraneous
costs, such as sewers, paving, electrical distribution systems
outside of buildings, social and recreational space, rentable
office buildings, and the like, the total construction cost per
room would be $1,235. Variation occurred between costs of
northern and southern projects, the average for the former
being $4,472 per dwelling unit and for the latter $3,568 per
RENTALS AND MANAGEMENT
Operation of 51 projects meant the management of rental
properties accommodating 21,800 families. It involved the
selection of tenant families who could not afford to keep them-
selves decently housed without public aid. The division set
up qualifications based upon prospective tenants 7 income and
their current housing conditions. Families having an income
more than five times the rent of the necessary dwelling unit in
the public project were excluded. Families who could sup-
port themselves in decent housing automatically were refused
consideration. But if the income of a family was within
the range permitted, and if the housing in which they lived
was considered bad housing; that is, if it failed to meet
reasonable requirements in the matter of health, safety, and
comfort, the family was considered for residence in the new
As rents were calculated to return 55 percent of the cost of
the project amortized over 60 years, plus maintenance and
operation costs, the rental figures varied according to the
cost of the project. Forty-five percent of the construction
price of each project was written off as a PWA grant. The
rental was made up of two items: The base rent, or that
necessary to return the capitalized construction cost; and a
utilities charge. The latter covered cost of heat and light,
power or gas for cooking, hot and cold water, and refrigera-
tion. The average base rent ran around $5.37 per room per
month, plus anywhere from 50 cents to $2.95 per room per
month for utilities, depending on local costs for electricity, gas,
coal, and the like.
Rental charges on a group of projects were as follows:
City and project
Atlanta, Techwood __
Memphis, Dixie Homes _ _ _ _
Stamford Fairfield Court
Birmingham Smithfield Court
Montgomery, Patterson Courts
Miami Liberty Square
Charleston, Meeting St
Boston, Old Harbor
New York \Villiamsburg
Philadelphia Hill Creek
1 Purchased by tenant.
It was generally conceded, and first by the Housing
Division, that these rents were not as low as they ought to
be to take care of the families who needed help most. But
under the terms of the legislation, through which the Housing
Division was forced to operate, they were as low as was
possible. Therefore, PWA advocated a liberalizing of the
Under its own law and because of lack of proper local laws
it had been necessary for PWA itself to acquire sites, con-
struct, and operate housing projects. It was early recog-
nized that the cause of public housing would be greatly
advanced if communities with Federal aid in the form of
grants and loans could perform their own work. In response
to public demand, legislation was passed in State after State
and city after city permitting the establishment of housing
authorities. In 1937 the Wagner-Steagall Act establishing
the United States Housing Authority was passed.
Under this act, the basis for subsidy of the projects was
vastly expanded; the Federal Government was allowed to
make loans and pay subsidies to local housing authorities
who would erect projects and operate them themselves.
The program in general was "localized" or decentralized.
The enthusiasm which mustered behind the Wagner-
Steagall Act was a tribute to the strength of the public-
housing movement which had been given form and substance
by PWA. The needs that public housing filled, the purpose
it served, and its specific accomplishments so appealed to the
Nation and to the Congress that the program was deemed
worthy of being established as a permanent Government
activity. After a 4-year period of demonstration and
pioneering, public housing was adopted as a law of the land.
Housing had come of age.
TO EVALUATE the work of
PWA in terms of its full effect
on the economic life of the American people is an almost
impossible task at the present time. PWA can claim cur-
rently only that it has proceeded to carry out its functions
with all the sincerity and ability at its command. Its task
has not been carried out without some mistakes and errors,
but that was inherent in so huge an undertaking, and espe-
cially when the public works program has grown and developed
in accordance with the exigencies of the times.
PWA has not been a construction agency, although it
might have become so in large part under the provisions of
the National Industrial Recovery Act. The only works
which PWA itself has sponsored, contracted, and built were
the low-rental housing projects (and these, like all its other
projects, were generally constructed under contract). PWA
has functioned chiefly by making allotments to the various
Federal agencies; making loans and grants to State and other
public bodies; and making loans without grants (for a brief
time) to certain private corporations, such as the railroads.
The agency, born of the depression, had a tremendous task
even in its organization. The vast amount of work involved
in administration was not accomplished by rubbing a magic
lamp. In the absence of a nucleus organization, it was neces-
sary to draft personnel, to establish procedures, to formulate
criteria for the selection of projects and to develop techniques
for the handling of many phases of the work in as short a
time as possible.
Because of the very nature of the American system of
government, the public works program depended largely on
the cooperation of the States and their subdivisions with the
Federal Government. The legal questions involved in such
cooperation were both numerous and complex. Debt limits,
tax limits, budgeting, the letting of construction contracts,
the employment of labor, and standards of construction were
subject to State and local laws, which were not designed to
insure the speed with which it was necessary to function.
Such legal impediments mainly have been removed by local
legislation in the drafting of which PWA has cooperated by
request with State and municipal officials.
In the absence of any comprehensive program of planned
public works at the start, it was necessary also to stimulate
interest, to undertake surveys, to draw plans and designs,
and to overcome financial and other difficulties. In the
meantime while communities throughout the Nation were
readying themselves for participation in the program the
unemployed and the breadlines were still in evidence every-
where. A part of the PW 7 A funds was therefore set aside in
the fall of 1933 for the Civil Works Administration to be used
for direct employment of men on relief, to fill the gap until a
construction program of any great size could get under way.
But in 1934 the first PWA program began to have its major
impact on the construction and related manufacturing in-
dustries. The industries which were most affected were
those which always are subject to widest fluctuation. In the
case of the cement industry, for example, PWA material
orders amounted to a ratio of between 50 and 75 percent of
the entire output of cement for that year. How many
individual plants in that industry were saved from bank-
ruptcy, it is impossible to know. In other industries also,
PWA orders constituted what was equivalent to a large
proportion of the entire output.
The effect of PWA on industry is further indicated by the
fact that with the rapid completion of projects in early 1935
there began a turn-down in production indices. But at this
time there was already in existence an organization geared to
work at high speed. Legal difficulties had, in large part,
been swept away, and local officials, having become used to
PWA methods, were anxious to take advantage of Federal
aid. Thus, when the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act
of 1935 was passed, construction was put under way in a much
shorter time. There followed immediate and sharp upturn
in production indices. 1 It is fair to attribute a substantial
share of this increase to PWA material purchases and em-
Through 1936 and 1937 Congress made no direct appro-
priation from the Treasury to provide PWA with funds ex-
cept to authorize it to use up to $3 59,000,000 from the
revolving fund. It was hoped that private enterprise would
pick up as the public construction program slowed down,
but in the spring of 1938 it became all too evident that this
was not the case. Something had to be done to counteract
the business recession. PWA was there. It was reduced to
a skeleton, to be sure, but it was grounded in the fundamentals
and techniques of public-works administration and how to
1 The Federal Reserve Board index of industrial production stood at 87 in April 1935, the
month in which the ERA Act of 1935 was passed. The index thereafter rose rapidly to reach
101 by December 1935 ( J 9 2 3- 2 5 average = 100).
get a program under way with no loss of time. It also
possessed a reservoir of thousands of eligible projects,
planned by communities all over the country, for which funds
had not been available theretofore.
With the passage of the PWA Act of 1938, the agency made
allotments almost overnight. Although the act was not
signed until June 21, with the best construction season almost
half over in many localities, the program was put under way
immediately. Within a few weeks, contracts were let by the
hundreds, and thousands of men were put to work on the
sites of construction and in the factories receiving material
orders for the projects. The requirements, which Congress
made in the law, that all projects be put under construction
by January i, 1939, was met.
Not all the communities which applied for PWA assistance
in building or improving local works could be aided, due to
the fact that the funds provided PWA by Congress were
insufficient to care for all requests. As a result, PWA once
again has been able to build up a reservoir of worthy projects.
The requests from communities throughout the Nation, as
well as independent surveys, show clearly that local needs for
public improvements, contributions to education, public
health, sanitation, adequate water supply, better transporta-
tion facilities, and a higher standard of life generally are far
All these needs which must be ultimately met can be more
adequately and properly fulfilled by proper planning. Such
advance planning is, of course, essential if public works are
definitely utilized as a national policy to combat economic
depression and to stabilize business fluctuations.
PWA has shown that a Nation-wide construction program
of large size can accomplish this objective for it not only puts
hundreds of thousands of men to work on the sites of projects,
but more than twice as many in the factories and in the mines
and transportation industries, all in accordance with the
normal American method of working through the channels
of private enterprise. With a well-trained supervisory organ-
ization and rigid insistence on the highest standards of
honesty and fair dealing, inefficiency and graft can be elim-
inated from public works and the communities and labor and
employers can share in the benefits. Furthermore, oppor-
tunities are created for the safe employment of savings in
matching the Federal Government's contribution toward the
financing of the projects. It has been the basic objective of
PWA to stimulate recovery by increasing purchasing power,
by increasing the real wealth of the country, by providing
employment in the field and in the factory, and by drawing
private capital into productive use.
PWA is not and never has aimed to be a direct relief organ-
ization. There are thousands whom it can never affect di-
rectly and for whom other aid has to be provided. It can
and does, however, through its activities, keep hundreds of
thousands of men off the relief rolls and can be in a position
to step in when the heavy construction industry lags to influ-
ence national income and to help bring about national
IN EVERY section of the
United States there have been
constructed PWA projects which are noteworthy because of
their spectacular engineering features or because of the social
purposes which they have been intended to fulfill. These
public works of more than usual interest range in size from
small projects costing but a few thousand dollars to ones
costing many millions. The following 10 projects, located in
different sections of the country and exemplifying a variety
of types, have been selected at random to illustrate the
enduring service which PWA projects render.
CASE No. 1
New York A Bridge
In the i88o's, human spiders began spinning the steel webs
of bridges joining together two score cities and villages on half
a dozen islands and peninsulas that were to grow into Greater
New York City. In 1883 that great engineering triumph,
the Brooklyn Bridge, was finished, and in a third of a century
three more bridges followed, bringing even closer the segments
of a great metropolitan area.
By 1916 traffic over these bridges had reached 11,500,000
vehicles per year and began to choke the city. A group of
engineers suggested a bridge to connect the fast growing
Bronx, Queens, and northern Manhattan sections of the city.
Nothing was done. By 1925 East River traffic grew to
55,000,000 vehicles. Still, nothing was done. By the end
of the I92o's traffic had reached 83,000,000 vehicles and
conditions were intolerable.
This brought matters to a head and the city brought
forward new plans, proposing a Triborough Bridge an
immense new artery of travel, connecting three of the five
boroughs, its "feelers" reaching out to the suburban com-
munities of the city.
Work on Triborough Bridge was begun on October 25,
1929. That was the day the headlines in the papers read:
"i2,8oo,ooo-share Day Swamps Market -- Most Disastrous
Decline - - Five Bankers Say Conditions Are Sound." Few
people noticed the little story about the start of the new
For 3 years the city struggled to build the new bridge in
the face of the avalanche. Then, in 1932, with $5,000,000
spent, the city had to give up.
In 1933, after PWA was created, the city regained hope.
A new bridge authority was organized and application was
made to the PWA for a loan and grant. Engineering and
financial experts of the authority and PWA discussed the
matter. After consultation, engineers lopped an unnecessary
second deck off the plans. Thousands of cubic yards of
expensive granite facings were cut off the i^-mile viaduct that
soared over two islands. The towers were simplified. With-
out affecting usefulness $10,000,000 was saved, later to be
invested in even better connections. A working plan
emerged, something solid, substantial, and utilitarian.
PWA made a grant of $9,200,000 and a loan of $35,000,000
and work resumed December 12, 1933. PWA funds began to
flow to provide employment and to stimulate industry.
Contractors at once called for cement, steel, and lumber.
Up on the Maine coast, along the Hudson and Mississippi
Rivers, the great cement factories donned their white-dust
plume that signified "working full shifts", for Triborough
used a half a million cubic yards of concrete. The whistles in
half a hundred Pennsylvania factories recalled workers to
their tasks at the hearths and mills. On the Pacific coast
great trees crashed and were started on their way to make
forms. Thousands of men along the various railroads began
rolling and shifting the cars of girders, cables, and plates
destined for the project.
Through the hard winter of 1934-35 an d through the hot
summer engineers labored over drafting boards to keep ahead
of the growing army of workmen, so that the steel ends of
the bridge reaching out from land on three sides might make
their rendezvous over Wards Island. Huge amounts of
employment were created at the site and in the Nation's
factories. Lawyers, clerks, stenographers, and other white-
collar workers labored to acquire the land for the 13 miles of
approaches, and to keep check on the progress of the work.
The project made light of obstacles in its path. City
blocks vanished. Narrow streets widened as if a titanic
wedge were hammered through between their confining house
walls. Creeks surrendered to concrete arches.
In one part, the sea bottom was compelled to yield up a
new embankment. In another part a vast blighted neigh-
borhood of gas houses and oil storage tanks were doomed to
make way for a new highway.
The deadline was getting closer. The bridge had to open
in July 1936. Men, men, and more men were added to
the pay rolls. Two hundred separate trades, all the way
from asbestos and asphalt workers to upholsterers and
wire-stringers, worked on the project for their accustomed
Five thousand men worked three shifts a day. Through
the spring the crescendo increased. The last thousands
went to work at 6 a. m. the morning of July II, 1936, to
At noon that day, President Roosevelt, Administrator
Ickes, Commissioner Moses, and the Triborough Bridge
Authority marched onto the bridge. Scissors flashed. A
strip of shimmering silk fluttered and the champing motor-
cade it held in check moved. Triborough Bridge was
marked on PWA records as a completed project.
Triborough Bridge is a gigantic traffic machine, a huge
1 7-mile Y with one arm on the mainland and two others on
Long Island and Manhattan. It has four overwater cross-
ings, the most conspicuous being the Hell Gate suspension
span, but some of the others, dwarfed beside it, are the largest
of their type in the world. It includes a lift bridge, a low-
level bridge, a long trestle between Wards and Randalls
Islands, many highway and parkway bridges along the con-
necting water-front parks; parkways in three boroughs, a
flying junction at Randalls Island where 14 lanes of traffic
moving in eight directions meet and pass without interrup-
tion. And best of all, it provides 17 miles of high-speed
travel in the midst of a city, with only one stop, to pay toll.
Triborough Bridge was financed by PWA on the basis that
it would be a self-liquidating project. What have been the
The turnstiles started to click; the first original optimistic
estimate set traffic at 9,900,000 vehicles; actually 11,642,949
crossed during the first full year (1937). The next year again
showed an excess over expectations.
The bankers who would not take those bonds at any price
in 1933 when PWA stepped in, were later glad to pay a
premium for them, and the Federal Government made a
million and half dollars profit to be used on new work-
But Triborough yielded other benefits also. The city
acquired a new park on Randalls Island. A stadium there
was used for Olympic try-outs the day the bridge opened.
Another park is in the making on Wards Island.
While Triborough was building, a committee, searching
for a site for a great world's fair, looked over the situation in
Queens. They found that the Queens connection for the
bridge ran by a huge garbage dump which for years had
been a rat-infested waste. Part of the Triborough plan
was to reclaim this dump for a park, for with the completion
of the bridge that dump would be i hour closer to the center
of the city. That dump has become Flushing Meadow
Park and on that park, aided by the Triborough Bridge,
has risen the New York World's Fair of 1939. (The other
main connection with the fair is the PWA-financed subway
which runs across the south end of the park.)
To the north the city's great North Beach Airport is
being put into final shape, because the construction of the
Triborough Bridge has brought the flats of North Beach only
30 minutes away from the heart of Manhattan.
The bridge which opened up these developments also
produced a real-estate boom in northern Queens.
The Triborough Bridge repaid PWA's confidence by
becoming one of the best-paying public facilities in the land.
So great has its success been that on the basis of its income
the Triborough Bridge Authority was able to construct a
new bridge the Whitestone Bridge farther north.
Summary of data
APPLICANT: TRI-BOROUGH BRIDGE AUTHORITY,
NEW YORK, N. Y.
Loan 335,000,000 ,
Actual cost 344,291,290
PWA work started, March 12, 1934.
Bridge opened for traffic, July 11, 1936.
Construction fully completed, May 7, 1937.
Man-hours (on site) ... 7 , 71 7 , 000
Man-hours (off site), estimated., .__ 24,000,000
Total man-hours, estimated 1 31,717,000
Wages (on site) _ . . _ _ $8 , 392 , 000
Value of material orders__ .__ 317,460,000
Origin of material orders (135 cities) 20 States
Expected traffic for 1938 (vehicles) 9,900,000
Actual traffic for 1938 (vehicles).. 11,619,344
Expected income from traffic for 1938 32,579,000
Actual total receipts for 1938. . 32,950,970
CASE No. 2
Texas A Harbor
In Brownsville, Tex., they built a port for ocean-going
ships in the middle of a prairie.
Brownsville is located near the extreme southern tip of
Texas, on a prairie 18 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The
story of its rise is also the story of the magic valley of the
Rio Grande and of citizens with imagination enough to plan
Many years ago the Rio Grande River was not only a
border line between the two countries, but an artery of
commerce. French and English vessels anchored near its
mouth, lightered their cargoes to the Mexican town of Bagdad,
located at the river's mouth, and from Bagdad the cargoes
were taken upstream in small boats. Gradually, however,
the river filled with silt and even the small amount of com-
merce on the river became impossible. But the citizens of
south Texas never forgot the benefits of water-borne trans-
At the beginning of the present century some easterners
visiting the Rio Grande Valley visualized the marvels which
might be wrought by irrigation. Soon small areas had
water canals and began producing vegetables and cotton with
prodigal abundance. Still later grapefruit and orange trees
Now 800,000 Rio Grande Valley acres are under irrigation.
The valley has become one of the world's largest producers
of fine citrus fruits. It is the site of some of the most extensive
truck farms in the world with fields of carrots, spinach,
broccoli, and peppers so broad that it is impossible to see
across them even though they are planted on almost flat
ground. Throughout the valley packing and canning and
byproduct plants are located, shipping their produce to
every corner of the Nation and particularly to the great
markets of the East.
Brownsville, as the valley's most important city, was
concerned with the transportation problems involved in
moving a vast quantity of produce to market quickly and
economically. Old citizens had not forgotten the days when
the Rio Grande had been a waterway, and water transporta-
tion was uppermost in their minds. They began to make
plans for making a port out of Brownsville, a port through
which would flow not only citrus fruits, vegetables, and cotton,
but oil and the metallic ores of Mexico.
Today Brownsville, though inland, has one of the busiest
and fastest-growing ports on the Gulf. The port was built
through the cooperation of the people of the area, the War
Department, and the PWA. A special navigation district
was set up by local citizens under State authority. The
War Department had funds for river and harbor improve-
ments which could be used to dig a canal within 7 miles of
Brownsville. The canal was planned to be wide enough
and deep enough to permit the passage of many large ships.
At the end of the canal a turning basin, the size of three
city blocks by four city blocks, was to be placed. Then the
navigation district turned to the Public Works Administra-
PWA made an allotment of $2, 83 5, 98 2 for the building of
warehouses, docks, and other improvements at the turning
basin. Built with PWA funds also were three large ware-
houses, two long wharves, and an oil dock. Included in the
project were funds to build a water line and a power line to
connect the port with utilities at Brownsville.
THE TURNING BASIN OF BROWNSVILLE, TEX., HARBOR-
BUILT IN THE MIDDLE OF A PRAIRIE
After the PWA allotment had been secured and work
started, the Texas State Highway Department built a con-
crete highway from the city to the port and a railroad built
an extension to the docks.
Completion of the project was the signal for immediate
industrial development. A cotton-compress company saw
the advantages of the new port and built warehouses. Re-
cently a number of major oil companies have established tank
farms at the port, and leases have been made for a truck
storage and distribution plant to handle molasses, a precooling
and cold storage plant, and a petroleum products plant.
The port's tonnage has increased steadily since the first
cargo moved out of its warehouses to a waiting freighter.
Tonnage handled has approximately doubled each year. In
1936, about 39,000 tons were handled; in 1937, over 54,000
tons; in 1938, more than 105,000 tons; and in the first 3
months of 1939 more than the entire amount handled in 1937.
Eight steamship lines now make Brownsville a regular port
of call. Cargo of all sorts is shipped to every part of the
The future is still brighter. Under way now in Willacy
County, Tex., is a huge irrigation project, also financed by the
PWA, which will add still more to the valley's production
capacity. And, too, oil has been discovered nearby and may
further increase the tonnage of the "port in the prairie."
Summary of data
APPLICANT: BROWNSVILLE NAVIGATION DISTRICT
Loan . 32,120,013
Estimated cost 32,835,445
Started, December 1, 1934.
Completed, August 21, 1937.
Man-hours (on site) 351 ,701
Man-hours (off site) 707,900
Total man-hours 1,059,601
Wages (on site) 3218,779
Value of material orders, _. 3599,139
Origin of material orders (States) 17
CASE No 3
Illinois A Sewerage System
The trouble with Chicago was that it grew too fast. It
started out as a little frontier post on the banks of a mile-
long sluggish stream that meandered through the marshes to
Lake Michigan. But through the nineteenth century and
the first decades of the twentieth, Chicago's growth was
phenomenal. The city began to spread; before it realized,
Chicago was faced with a sewage problem.
Faced was a literal term, for in its early days Chicago
dumped its sewage into the lake at its front door. This
same lake provided its water supply.
In 1900, in a burst of decorum and resentment stirred by a
rising number of deaths from water-borne disease, Chicago
dug a canal reversing the flow of the Chicago River, and used
the lake water to flush its sewage down past numerous towns
along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Having turned its
back on the problem the city promptly forgot about it.
The resulting uproar from the adjacent and nearby States
was instantaneous, loud, and sustained. Cities along the
Great Lakes claimed that the water diverted from the lake
lowered water levels and interfered with navigation. The
towns along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers were dismayed
to find Chicago's sewage flowing past their property. These
cities brought charges, and conflicting opinions were aired at
length and with considerable emotion through the courts,
until finally, in 1930, the United States Supreme Court
decided that the lake diversion must be cut to 1,500 feet per
second by the end of 1939.
The sanitary district of Chicago was thus faced with a
$ 1 29,000,000 bill for constructing a new sewerage system, and
8 short years in which to complete it. Work was started,
but the area, hard hit by the depression, and looted by
succeeding generations of politicians, was financially strapped,
and was unable to continue the job. Construction on the
project came to a standstill.
In the closing days of 1933, an appeal was made to PWA.
The Government engineers went over the proposed plans
and an allotment of $8, 000,000, which included a grant
based on 30 percent of labor and materials, was approved.
Later, allotments brought the total up to $59,35 1,487
which increased the loan to $4 1,863,040 and the grant to
$i 6, 950,000.
PWA made this loan when bankers refused to purchase
the bonds. The sanitary district was having much trouble
with its tax situation, its bonds were in default and quoted
at a substantial discount. Nevertheless, PWA bought these
bonds at par, or $100. It later, however, resold them to
bankers at $101, and made a profit of $419,380 on the
$41,938,000 bond issue.
Work started January 2, 1934. Since that time the
greatest sewerage system in the world has grown under the
watchful eyes of the PWA engineers.
A new lock and control works costing $3,000,000 has been
built where the lake flows into the river, for with the tiny
legal flow, a rainstorm would reverse the flow and send the
cities' sewage coursing into the drinking-water supply. This
part of the project provided a 600- by 8o-foot lock for ships.
Behind this lock are the great miter gates that permit the
river to flow in but swing shut to prevent its reversing.
The next problem was to collect all the sewage that was
THE LARGEST SEWERAGE PROJECT IN THE WORLD, UNDERTAKEN WITH
PWA ASSISTANCE, IN CHICAGO, ILL., TO SERVE A GREAT METROPOLITAN
AREA. UPPER PHOTO THE SOUTH SIDE DISPOSAL AND TREATMENT PLANT.
LOWER PHOTO SHOWS HUMAN ANTS WHO BURROWED UNDER GROUND TO
BUILD A VAST NETWORK OF SEWERS
formerly dumped raw into the river. The work started with
laying of j-foot pipes under the myriad streets cross-hatching
Chicago and 49 other nearby cities and towns.
This system of street laterals empties into larger and deeper
tubes, ending up in the great interceptors. Far below street
level, these interceptors are concrete-lined tunnels, 19 feet
high by 1 8 feet wide, approximately the size of subway tubes.
Constructed over a period of 1 5 years by burrowing humans,
they serve to carry millions of gallons of waste every day to
the treatment plants.
The largest of these disposal plants is the southwest side
treatment plant, double the size of any other treatment plant
in the world, serving an area of 192 square miles, a million
and a half people and industrial wastes equivalent to a popu-
lation of another million people. The plant cost $i 5,000,000
and covers 500 acres.
Here the solids are removed from 400 million gallons of
sewage a day. The purified water is returned to the river.
Vacuum niters dry the solids, which are burned under the
boilers that provide power. The ash is caught by the huge
battery of Cottrell precipitators, which snares the dust in a
tangle of electrons and prevents 100 tons of solids a day
from being scattered over the surrounding prairies. Since
some of the dry sludge has value as fertilizer it is sold, and
coal to operate the plant is bought with the profit.
It is impossible to flow all the sewage to the southwest side
plant, so another plant costing $5, 275,000 was built in Calu-
met to serve the huge industrial area south of Chicago close
to the Indiana State line. Additions were made to the old
plants at the north and west sides involving a cost of
The Chicago sewage system is one of the greatest en-
gineering feats completed with PWA funds. It will safe-
guard the health of millions of citizens in the heart of the
Nation. It has created a work of permanent value for years
to come. And it was built at a time when Chicago's citizens
were most in need of the millions of man-hours of work it
Summary of data
APPLICANT: SANITARY DISTRICT OF CHICAGO
Estimated cost 359,351,487
Started, January 1, 1934.
To be completed, August 31, 1939.
Man-hours (on site) 17,152,697
Man-hours (off site) 28,271,000
Total man-hours 45,423,697
Wages (on site) 319,537,463
Value of material orders 321,326,259
Origin of material orders (States) 14
CASE No. 4 - . |
Missouri An Auditorium
Atlantic City, Miami, and San Francisco have long known
what tourist trade meant in terms of cold cash. They found
out early and began capitalizing on it, but it took Kansas
City a long time to decide to lure tourists.
Kansas City, an early day "cowtown". and trail head for
the West, has none of Atlantic City's nor Miami's salt sea
air, nor the climate of San Francisco. It has one advantage,
however, that none of these other cities has : It is built where
the Kaw meets the Missouri, very nearly in the center of the
Kansas City discovered that when a group of people want
to get together they usually do it at a point convenient to
them all. It became convention conscious. But if you
want conventions you have to provide a place for them to
In the last years of the nineteenth century Kansas City
built its first great convention hall. In 1900, because it had
a hall big enough, it got the Democratic National Convention.
In the midst of plans for the biggest meeting in the Mid-
west's history the hall caught fire and burned down. Within
3 months, in time for the convention's first meeting on the
THE 6-MILLION-DOLLAR AUDITORIUM IN KANSAS CITY, MO., BUILT TO AC-
COMMODATE 40,000 PEOPLE. THE BUILDING CONTAINS ASSEMBLY SPACE
FOR LARGE CONVENTIONS. CONCERTS, MEETINGS, LECTURES, AND THEATRI-
CAL PLAYS AS WELL AS OTHER ACTIVITIES.
Fourth of July, Kansas City had a new hall ready, a hall
which would seat 20,000 people.
For 36 years Convention Hall was a center of Kansas City
life and it was the scene as well of thousands of meetings,
great and small. But the growth of the city and the demand
for more and varied types of assembly space made a new
building necessary. Citizens got together, planned a new
auditorium, and included its construction in what they called
their lo-year plan for civic improvement.
As the plans took shape it became evident that Kansas
City, because of reduced revenues due to depression, could
not finance its $6,000,000 project, even though materials
were cheaper and men in the building trades were clamoring
for work. As soon as PWA was organized, however, Kansas
City applied for a grant of $1,290,000 to add to its own funds.
A few months after the allotment was made, actual work
started and 2 years later the city completed what is said to
be the most beautiful convention hall in the world.
This modern "town hall" is, of course, more than an audi-
torium. In reality it is a group of related assembly spaces:
The largest of these is the arena, which can seat 15,000
useful for sports and exhibitions as well as very large conven-
tions; next largest is the music hall, seating 3,000, used for
concerts, meetings, and lectures; a little theater, with capac-
ity for an audience of 1,000; and 32 other rooms, with accom-
modations for from 25 to 500 people.
The Kansas City auditorium is not only the second largest
in the United States, but it is the most modern. It covers an
entire block in the heart of the city, rising to the height of a
lo-story building. Because of careful planning by acoustical
engineers every room in the building may be used without
disturbing what is going on elsewhere crowds may cheer an
ice-hockey game wildly in the arena without interfering with a
concert of chamber music in the music hall.
Forty thousand people may attend various events in the
auditorium at one time and yet the building has been so
planned that in case of emergency all 40,000 could be on the
streets in 8 minutes.
From a base of polished granite, the rough-cut buff lime-
stone walls rise to their heights, relieved of severity by
carved-stone medallions and friezes. The vast expanse of
exterior walls is unbroken by windows, this plan eliminating
all traffic noises and aiding in positive control of lighting and
air conditioning by artificial means. Air conditioning is
provided by the third largest plant so far constructed,
installed at a cost of $1,000,000.
Many engineering perplexities were conquered in the design
and construction. The problem of supporting a roof and
ceiling over the large arena without the employment of
interior supports was solved by the use of 226-foot traverse
trusses, fabricated of silicon steel and weighing 240 tons each.
Since the auditorium was placed in service businessmen in
Kansas City have counted many extra dollars brought to town
by convention delegates. Along with this it has served as a
center for the cultural and recreational life both of Kansas
City and a wide surrounding area. The auditorium has
already been the gathering place of outstanding national con-
ventions. Not only socially and economically useful, the
auditorium meets PWA's requirements of permanency. It
will be one of the great meeting places of the Nation for many
years to come.
The inscription on the cornerstone reads: "Laid November
29, 1934, by the will of the people, which is the cornerstone of
all good government."
Summary of data
APPLICANT: CITY OF KANSAS CITY
Estimated cost $6,261,469
Started, June 5, 1934.
Completed, July 28, 1936.
Man-hours (on site) 1,171,510
Man-hours (off site) 2,959,700
Total man-hours 4,131,210
Wages (on site) $1,131,274
Value of material orders ___ $2,350,938
Origin of material orders (States) 18
CASE No. 5
Florida A Bridge-Highway System
Key West is a part of the United States mainland again.
Behind that simple statement is the story of one of the
hardest fights any city ever had to wage, the dramatic tale
of how a city, doomed to become a ghost town of crumbling
and forgotten masonry, battled for its very existence and
won. Once cut off from the mainland by a hurricane, it is
now connected by one of the most spectacular bridge-high-
way systems in the world.
Key West, the southernmost city of the United States,
built on an island of coral set in the Gulf of Mexico, has
known ups and downs before. Long ago it became a harbor
for pirates who stopped to fill casks with the fresh sweet
waters of the only spring on the Florida keys. Henry
Morgan and Black Caesar stalked its lanes. A thousand
pirates drank and cursed in its bordellos, sold and swapped
stolen goods in its market place.
With piracy wiped from the high seas, Key West became
THE HIGHWAY THAT GOES TO THE SEA. A PORTION OF THE MOTOR ROAD
BUILT ON OLD RAILWAY BRIDGES IN SOUTHERN FLORIDA. THE BRIDGE-
HIGHWAY SYSTEM CONNECTS KEY WEST WITH THE MAINLAND
the chief operating place of men who made a living by the
simple expedient of looting ships they had wrecked by chang-
ing navigation markers.
In 1822 the United States Navy cleaned up Key West. A
naval base was established, providing the little city with
almost its first legitimate trade. As cigar makers from
Cuba moved in the city grew, and at one time its rich Havana
cigars were famous the world over.
Key West reached the zenith of its prosperity during the
Spanish-American War. Naval and military operations out
of Key West brought thousands of ready purchasers to the
city, and trade boomed.
Later connected with the mainland by a railroad which
ran over a series of II bridges from key to key, and served
by regular ship lines to Tampa and Havana, Key West had
ready access to the markets of the world. But conditions
changed. Cigar manufacturers began moving to the main-
land to be nearer their markets. As factories left, workers
either went with them or remained without employment.
By 1935 a large percentage of the population of Key West
was receiving Federal relief money.
Key West has weathered many hurricanes. It was
excited but not dismayed when in 1935 ominous storm warn-
ings once more appeared. But this hurricane was different.
The winds were more furious than ever before. The sea
waves rose to tremendous heights. Key West itself was
spared, but its life line was gone! The railroad bed on the
keys was washed away. The rails were twisted; communi-
cation, except by water, was cut off.
Key West then began its long uphill job of rehabilitation.
When the railroad announced that it would abandon its
line, some of the citizens almost lost hope. But, said the
railroad, if anybody wanted to buy the right-of-way, it was
willing to sell. Engineers put their heads together and
announced that it would be possible to convert the railway
causeway into a highway if money could only be found.
The money was found. PWA, organized to meet just
such situations, lent $3,600,000 to a special-tax district set-up
to buy and operate the new causeway. Plans were rushed
and hundreds of men who needed jobs were soon busy at
work turning the railway into a 2o-foot wide, hard-surfaced
road 34 miles long.
The new road system swings south and eastward from the
extreme tip of Florida through the sparkling waters of the
Gulf, the waves of the Atlantic beating on one side and waters
of the Straits of Florida on the other. It loops from key to
key, jumping over water gaps on converted railroad bridges,
including one 7 miles long, held to be the longest bridge in the
world entirely over water. At the Bahia Hondu Bridge, the
highway soars over the top truss spans, 60 feet above the
water. Trains crossed this particular bridge at grade level,
but because of the narrow space of 14 feet which was suf-
ficient for trains but insufficient for a highway, the roadway
has been lifted to the top of the girders, far above the former
rails. Completion of the system is regarded as an outstand-
ing engineering accomplishment.
Without the railway, Key West had only ferry service to
the mainland. By auto or bus and ferry one could make the
trip in a full day sometimes in longer time if the ferry got
stuck on a sand bar. The trip cost $3.
Today a motorist can reach Key West from the mainland,
a distance of 145 miles, in less than 4 hours, soaring across
the beautiful waters. The cost of the trip is a dollar for the
car, and a quarter for each passenger.
And today business at Key West is looking up. Hours
closer to Miami and Tampa, tourists are beginning to flock
to the city at the southernmost end of the United States. In
the first 9 months of operation, the new highway bridge
system was used by 108,000 vehicles carrying 195,000 pas-
sengers. Now citizens of Key West work hopefully to in-
crease their tourist industry, seeing in it a means toward
Summary of data
APPLICANT: OVERSEAS ROAD AND TOLL-BRIDGE DISTRICT
Estimated cost $3,600,000
Started, November 30, 1936.
Completed, September 21, 1938.
Opened full length, March 29, 1938.
Man-hours (on site) 1,464,890
Man-hours (off Site) 1,526,400
Total man-hours 2,991,890
Wages (on site) $781,116
Value of material orders $1,011, 471
Origin of material orders (States, primarily
CASE No. 6
California A School Program
At 5:54 p. m., on March 10, 1933, the people of Los
Angeles, Long Beach, and other southern California cities
and towns suddenly began to feel the ground sway beneath
BEFORE AND AFTER. THE OLD HUNTINGTON PARK HIGH SCHOOL (TOP
PHOTO) IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, AS IT LOOKED IN 1933 BEFORE IT
BURNED FOLLOWING A GAS EXPLOSION. THE BUILDING WAS COMPLETELY
DESTROYED (MIDDLE PHOTO). THE NEW SCHOOL (BOTTOM PHOTO), LIKE
HUNDREDS OF OTHERS IN THE LOS ANGELES AREA WAS BUILT TO WITHSTAND
In a little while, however, it was over. The earth, with a
few resigning sighs, returned to its normal complacency.
Once the early surprise and shock was over, the people turned
to their usual pursuits, but municipal officials were left with
a building reconstruction problem on their hands.
No city was ever built as was Los Angeles. Founded in
1781, it had only 1,200 population 50 years later. General
Fremont came in 1846 and raised the Stars and Stripes but
Los Angeles remained the sleepy Mexican pueblo it had been.
Then finally the railroads sent their shining tracks westward
and southward and things began to happen.
In 1909 Los Angeles began to split its chrysalis. It ab-
sorbed most of its smaller neighbors. It reached out 30 miles
to the sea and became one of the Nation's great ports. It
finally included 441 square miles within its borders.
Such rapid growth, unequalled by that of any other city in
the history of the world, brought along problems such as no
other city has ever had to face. And one of those great prob-
lems was that of building a school system capable of constant
At the time of the earthquake in 1933 the schools of Los
Angeles included every type of building, many of which had
been hurriedly constructed without too much regard for
permanency and safety. The metropolitan Los Angeles area
had been a promoter's dream. Subdivision after subdivision
had increased its size. In some of them, schools were built
to attract residents before houses were constructed. In addi-
tion, numbers of towns and cities had been merged with the
the city of Los Angeles and each of these had its own system
of schools, separately planned and built.
Schools were not in session when the earthquake rumbled
through the Los Angeles area in 1933. But what if they
had been? At Long Beach every school had crumpled under
the strain or had been made unsafe for use. All through the
area cracks showed in walls, once believed secure founda-
tions were torn apart. Another earthquake and the buildings
that withstood the first might fall, and the people of Los
Angeles had nearly 240,000 children in those schools.
The California Legislature acted. It passed a bill requiring
all plans for schools to be passed by a State board of archi-
tecture, setting up standards of construction which, at that
time only, a few schools in the State could meet. The legis-
lation placed definite responsibility on school boards for
bringing existing buildings up to earthquake-standard con-
The city and county of Los Angeles was faced with the
problem of rebuilding its entire school system, one of the
largest in the country. And this was at a time when business
was at a standstill and the cost of such a program appeared
to be far greater than the citizens could meet. Then, with
the organization of PWA, a bright ray of hope appeared
Federal funds could be used for the double purpose of meeting
the school-building crisis and alleviating the economic distress
which was then current.
A board of 48 architects, engineers, and construction
experts was appointed by the Los Angeles Board of Education.
First the board of consultants examined all the school build-
ings to determine which were not fit for reoccupancy. Sixty
masonry structures were immediately removed from use.
After further study the board made its recommendations as
to replacements and improvements. Then in earnest began
the largest school building and rehabilitation program ever
For nearly 3 years the sound of hammers could be heard in
every section of Los Angeles County as workmen tore down
buildings marked unsafe and as others went up in their places.
Architects and engineers busied themselves with thousands
of blueprints and drawings. On project sites the sign
"Skilled Workmen Wanted" went up. Contractors ordered
additional equipment. Solidly built schools rapidly began
to replace the tents, bungalows, and temporary shelters that
were set aside for the children.
The result 536 buildings rehabilitated or constructed.
The cost $34,144,000, of which the PWA furnished loans
and grants totaling $i 8, 424,727.
Today the Los Angeles area has one of the Nation's most
modern systems of schools, built for today's needs, and
moreover, built to withstand earth shocks greater than those
experienced in the past. It is hoped that the schools of Los
Angeles and other cities in the country may never need the
extra margin of safety built into them.
Summary of data
APPLICANTS: BOARD OF EDUCATION, CITY OF Los ANGELES
SCHOOL BOARD, Los ANGELES COUNTY
Grant... _ 313,077,727
Estimated cost_ _ _ _ 334 , 144 , 063
Started, August 7, 1934.
Completed, April 27, 1938.
Man-hours (on site) _ . 1 1 , 388 , 743
Man-hours (off site) _ . 15 , 419 , 000
Total man-hours _ _ _ _ 26 , 807 , 743
Wages (on site).. _ 310,547,198
Value of material orders__ 311,942,418
Origin of material orders (States) 17
CASE No. 7
Colorado A Water Supply System
The average yearly rainfall at Atlanta is 48 inches; at
New York it is 43; at St. Louis, 37. But at Denver it is
Scarcity of rainfall in itself is enough to create a water
supply problem but this was not the only problem at Denver.
Since water rights in the semi-arid Mountain States are held
for beneficial use on a first come, first served, basis, Denver's
rights to the waters of the South Platte River were subject
to prior rights of users for irrigation. Every year in the
early part of this century, Denver's population was going
up and its water supply was falling below the ordinary needs.
Denver now has solved its water-supply problem.
The story begins in 1917 when Denver bought out the pri-
vate company which had been supplying the city with water.
TWO VIEWS OF THE SPECTACULAR DENVER WATER SUPPLY PROJECT, FAMIL-
IARLY KNOWN AS THE MOFFAT TUNNEL PROJECT. UPPER PHOTO SHOWS
STILLING BASIN AND CONCRETE-LINED CHUTE AT INTAKE TO RALSTON RES-
ERVOIR. THIS WATER FROM THE WESTERN SLOPE HAS JUST DESCENDED
THROUGH A HUGE CONCRETE BOX CHUTE AND IS BEING CALMED IN THE
STILLING BASIN BEFORE FLOWING ON TOWARD RALSTON DAM. LOWER
PHOTO SHOWS III-INCH SIPHON NO. I IN SOUTH BOULDER CANYON, PART OF
THE SOUTH BOULDER DIVERSION CONDUIT
Shortly after the purchase, the city found that water in
Lake Cheesman, the main reservoir, was rapidly diminishing.
Then began plans for the spectacular water-development
program which was to follow.
To the west of Denver the Rockies rise. On the western
slope the melting snows feed the Colorado with clear, pure
water. If Denver could reach across the mountains and
obtain water from those snows its problem would be solved.
The Denver area also had a transportation problem on its
hands. Railroad traffic was forced to cross the mountains
at Rollins Pass at an elevation of more than 11,000 feet.
The steep grades made the passage slow and difficult. Engi-
neers made plans which not only would eliminate dangerous
grades and cut miles from the railroad's crossing the Conti-
nental Divide, but which also would provide an eventual
solution for the Denver water-supply problem.
After surveys were made in 1920 and 1921, the Colorado
Legislature set up a Moffat Tunnel District for the purpose
of issuing bonds to finance the boring of a tunnel 6 miles
long through the mountains. So as to speed up construc-
tion of the tunnel, a pilot tunnel 75 feet from the main tunnel,
was first cut through the mountain in order that men could
work on the main tunnel in many places at once rather than
merely at both ends. The pilot tunnel, the engineers said,
could later be used to bring water from the western to the
On completion of the great Moffat railroad tunnel, the
city of Denver leased the smaller pilot tunnel and began a
few improvements with the hope that some day funds would
be available to put it in condition for use as a water conduit.
Then came the most serious drought known since the settle-
ment of Colorado and the demand for water rose to unprec-
edented peaks. The reserve water supply of Denver fell
to 36,000 acre-feet. Denver was forced to buy water con-
stantly from the holders of irrigation rights.
As the demand for adequate water supply grew, citizens
turned hopefully to the tunnel. But no money was available
either to recondition the tunnel, or to bring water to its west-
ern mouth, or to pipe it to Denver once it came through the
mountains. At that time with business at a standstill, banks
were unwilling to put money into such an enterprise.
With the organization of PWA, Denver found a way to
meet its needs. PWA had been planned to generate con-
struction of useful projects which otherwise could not be
built. Denver had a perfect case. It faced an emergency
in relation to its water supply, it faced an equally great
emergency in finding useful jobs for many of its citizens, and
its industries, like those of the rest of the country, needed
the stimulation which would be provided with a large amount
of construction. Denver obtained a PWA grant.
The first project Denver set up included plans for collecting
water from creeks and rivers over a loo-mile watershed on
the western side of the Continental Divide. The water was
to be brought by conduits to the western portal of the tunnel,
hewn from the solid rock of James Peak, sent under pressure
to the apex of the tunnel and flowed into Boulder Creek on
the eastern slope by gravity and down 23 miles to a diversion
dam and then across the plains through a system of siphons,
tunnels, and conduits to Ralston Creek Reservoir. From
there it could be diverted to the Denver supply system or
allowed to flow into the South Platte River for the use of
irrigation districts below Denver.
After work began a second project was added for equip-
ment which would give high-pressure service to pipe the water
to the residents. The total cost of the two projects was
^9,567,500 of which PWA provided $4,006,225.
With the completion of the projects Denver's reserve of
stored water steadily rose. It has been estimated that at
the end of 1939 the city will have available 220,000 acre-feet
of water enough to meet the needs of the metropolitan area
for 2 whole years and at the same time supply additional
water for irrigation below the city.
Summary of data
APPLICANT: BOARD OF WATER COMMISSIONERS (DENVER)
Estimated cost 9,567,500
Started, February 12, 1935.
Completed, January 15, 1938.
Man-hours (on site) 3,105,789
Man-hours (off site) 4,921,200
Total man-hours__ 8,026,989
Wages (on site). 2,646,587
Value of material orders 4,242,288
Origin of material orders (States) 18
CASE No. 8
Washington University Building
When the black lines on business charts and graphs were
generally reaching for the bottom, there was at least one
notable exception the number of students in most of the
publicly owned colleges and universities continued to rise.
As the depression set in during the fall of 1929, most
educators believed that there would be a corresponding drop
in enrollment. There was a decrease in the size of student
bodies in a number of the smaller private colleges. But the
big State institutions continued to grow. And many of
them, including the University of Washington, were unpre-
There were a number of reasons behind the increase. In
the first place the continued development of the secondary
school system had made more students eligible for college.
In the second place, with few jobs available, many youngsters
went to college, or stayed longer, rather than be idle. Most
important, parents as well as students felt that in a world
in which competition for jobs was growing greater, the
college-educated girl or boy seemed to have a better chance
The University of Washington, like many another institu-
tion, found in 1933 that the buildings which it had erected
in the twenties, and before that, were already filled to over-
flowing. Although registration was rising, nonstudent in-
come was falling off. Thus when the need for expansion
became most acute, the financial means for such expansion
had fallen to their lowest ebb. Except for the help of the
PWA, students might have been turned down entirely, or
given training with inadequate facilities and equipment.
The university, established in 1861, had so grown by 1895,
that the campus was moved from downtown Seattle to the
shores of Lake Washington. By 1900 it had a student body
of 1,500. By 1915 the board of regents authorized a "master
plan" to insure steady growth and uniformity of design of the
physical properties. Over a period of 18 years, from 1915 to
1933, the facilities were increased until 22 buildings in the
familiar collegiate Gothic style had been erected. By 1933,
however, the enrollment of the university had jumped to
8,500, and classrooms and dormitories were overcrowded.
The University of Washington became in 1933 one of the
first institutions of higher learning to apply for a PWA allot-
ment. The first building to be constructed was a $459, 869
wing for the university's cathedral-like library which domi-
nates the campus. The following year additional PWA
grants and loans made possible the construction of a group of
women's residence halls, an infirmary, and additions to the
power plant with a total cost of $980,000. The dormitories,
replacing two which were more than 40 years old, added
distinction to the campus with their fourteenth century
Tudor manor house design. The new infirmary, with 75
beds, replaced an obsolete structure which had once been
used as a barracks. The new power plant, equipped with
two steam turbo-generators, was estimated to have saved the
university $2,000 worth a month in the cost of power pro-
Shortly after the women's residence halls got under con-
struction workmen began pouring foundations for a $1,075,000
chemistry-pharmacy building for which PWA had provided
$481,427. The largest building on the campus, it was de-
DORMITORY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, SEATTLE. ONE OF
SEVEN BUILDINGS CONSTRUCTED ON THE CAMPUS TO ACCOMMODATE THE
signed to contain classroom and laboratory equipment for
3,000 students. Completion of the building released five
other buildings, which had previously been used by the
science students, and these were renovated and turned over
to other departments of the university.
Because of the proximity of important aviation manufac-
turing concerns, of the United States naval base at Sand
Point, and the Army Air Corps post at McCord Field, in-
terest in aeronautics always has been great in the Northwest.
The department of aeronautics, which has within the past
few years rapidly become one of the most important in the
college of engineering, needed an aeronautics laboratory. The
university, with PWA aid, therefore began construction in
1936 of a wind tunnel to test new types of airplanes. The
building, consisting of a wind tunnel and testing chamber,
and also workshops, classrooms and offices, was completed
the following year at a cost of $ 126,1 60. This structure pro-
vided the college with complete facilities for the study of
The building program was continued in 1937 and 1938 with
construction of an indoor swimming pool in a new wing of the
physical-education building. The addition, costing $206,600,
afforded students opportunities for swimming instruction and
recreation for the first time in the history of the university.
The seven buildings, representing an investment of almost
$2,850,000, made possible a long step forward in the develop-
ment of the university. The enrollment jumped from 8,748
in 1934, when the first PWA-financed building was con-
structed, to nearly 11,000 in the fall of 1938.
Summary of data
APPLICANT: UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON (SEATTLE)
Total estimated cost 32,847,635
Started, February 7, 1934.
Completed, September 30, 1938.
Man-hours (on site) 759 , 369
Man-hours (off site) 1,287,000
Total man-hours 2,046,369
Wages (on site) 3711,580
Value of material orders 31,375,691
Origin of material orders (States) 16
CASE No. 9
Alabama A Water Supply System
The town of Wilton, in Shelby County, Ala., is typical of
many smaller communities which have outgrown the well-
and-bucket era, and have installed modern water systems.
Wilton (population 562, according to the 1930 census) is
located in the industrial part of the State at the intersection
of an important State highway and a mainline railroad. Its
residents derive their income principally from the railroad
shops and the nearby Montevallo coal fields. For years
these citizens had looked forward to the day when they would
no longer have to depend upon wells, cisterns, and rain
barrels for their water, and could rely upon a tank and faucet.
And now the miracle of running water has come to pass.
In the fall of 1936, the acting mayor of Wilton wrote a
letter to PWA in support of the town's application for a
waterworks project. He wrote, in part, as follows:
I would like to find out, if there is any possible way, that we might get
emergency aid along this line, as our case has grown to be actually an
emergency. This dry summer we have had has dried up almost all our
water supply namely, cisterns and we are right up against it for water.
About half the population at the present time is having to haul water, in
barrels, which you can see is very unsanitary and unhealthy. We are
having a world of sickness here at the present time, caused from nothing
else but impure water.
Should the health department visit this place on an inspection of the
water conditions, all of our water would be condemned. Then what
would we do?
We would have to have some aid.
And for this reason, alone, I think our project one of the most deserving,
worth while, projects that has ever made application to the PWA for help.
We would gladly issue bonds and put up 55 percent of the project, but
revenue bonds are the only kind we could issue, and on investigation we
find positively no sale in Alabama for revenue bonds. We are willing to
do anything possible to get water. Won't you please help us?
Investigation by the PWA in the field indicated that the
picture was not overdrawn. Water had to be carted many
miles in the summer. The few private wells which existed,
dried up in July. Four houses had burned to the ground
within 2 years through lack of water to check the flames.
Examiners found the project to be technically and economi-
cally sound, and an allotment was made.
Construction started in the winter of 1937, and before
spring, 10 weeks less 2 days later, Wilton had a new water-
works system. A natural spring with a minimum daily flow
of 150,000 gallons was curbed. Workers built a pump house
and installed chlorinating equipment and a loo-gallons per
minute centrifugal pump driven by a 7/2 horsepower motor.
On top of a hill they erected a tall, ioo,ooo-gallon storage
WILTON, ALA., WATERWORKS SHOWING THE NEW IOCXOOO GALLON STORAGE
TANK, WHICH TOGETHER WITH A PUMPING SYSTEM AND OTHER FACIL-
ITIES HAS REPLACED THE OLD-FASHIONED, UNRELIABLE WELLS AND
tank, connected with 5,600 feet of cast-iron pipe. They laid
an additional 13,800 feet of 2- and 4-inch pipe, and installed
service connections and meters to provide the distribution
through which the water, by gravity, was to reach the
No miracle of engineering was performed here, but the
results of the improvement have made a lot of difference to
the citizenry. Home owners, merchants, garage operators,
and school children find their PWA project not only a great
convenience, but also a protector against some of the hazards
of fire and disease.
Summary of data
APPLICANT: TOWN OF WILTON
Started, January 8, 1937.
Completed, March 17, 1937.
Man-hours (on site) 6,033
Man-hours (off site) _ . 22 , 700
Total man-hours 28, 733
Wages (on site) _ . 33,176
Value of material orders $17 , 899
Origin of material orders (States, primarily
CASE No. 10
Ohio A Flood-Reduction Project
Ever since the first white settlers located in southeastern
Ohio, the Muskingum River and the tributaries with which it
drains one-fifth of the total area of that State, have overrun
Floods frequently have occurred there; small ones often
and great ones at longer intervals. Residents early found
that communities which, for the most part, were located on
waterways for transportation and power advantages were
unprotected when flood waters came swirling down upon
Thus the Muskingum proper, which is formed by the junc-
tion of the Walhonding and the Tuscarawas Rivers and flows
south into the Ohio at Marietta, has, together with the
tributaries in its 8,000 square-mile drainage area, taken a
heavy toll. What efforts were made to cope with the problem
proved inadequate. The threat to the lives of 675,000 inhab-
itants and millions of dollars worth of property was ever
In March 1913 there occurred the greatest of these floods
on record. Then, angry waters rolled over whole cities and
thousands of farm acres. Many lives were imperiled; much
property was destroyed. Families were left homeless and
without means of livelihood. Cities and counties spent
$3, 000,000 to repair roads and bridges alone. Other floods
CONTROL GATES ON THE BOLIVAR DAM, ONE OF 14 DAMS CONSTRUCTED
IN THE MUSKINGUM VALLEY OF OHIO FOR FLOOD REDUCTION
The early settlers had found along the Muskingum a rich,
fertile region, and this they put to use. But intensive grazing
and cultivation, along with deforestation, contributed to ero-
sion of the land. Much of the rich topsoil was washed away
by erosion and floods. The once fertile area came to face
serious economic problems.
When the residents went wearily back to their mud-buried
homes in 1913 they knew that the rivers and streams had to
be shackled if they ever were to live there in safety. Agita-
tion for flood control grew, increasing with each flood.
Legislative pioneering by the Ohio State Legislature
brought passage, in 1914, of authority for creation of what
were to be known as conservancy districts. Then a State
survey led to the conclusion that it would be feasible to plan
and execute a comprehensive flood-control and water-con-
servation program for the entire watershed. But the cost of
such a program was greater than local interests could bear.
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, a public
corporation, was organized. A preliminary plan of flood
control and conservation was drafted and, in August 1933, the
district applied to PWA for financial assistance.
Fourteen dams, including i concrete and 13 earth-filled,
were to be constructed along the Walhonding and the Tus-
carawas Rivers and on Wills Creek, another tributary of the
Muskingum. These and the reservoirs thus created were to
hold back and store water at their sources. The flow into
the Muskingum would be retarded in flood times and
increased in low water periods.
The greatest earth-moving process ever undertaken in the
East would have to be attempted. The entire region would
have to undergo a face-lifting. Many miles of railroad and
utility lines of highways would have to be relocated. Some
whole villages would have to be moved. The cost of the
undertaking was estimated at $44,000,000.
PWA allotted the project $22,090,000 as a Federal grant
for construction to be undertaken by the United States Army
Corps of Engineers. Other grants later increased the amount
of Federal participation to $27,190,000. The State highway
commission put up money to relocate highways, the conserv-
ancy district agreed to furnish lands and rights-of-way
through funds provided by landowners and the State legis-
The United States Corps of Army Engineers supervised the
job of bringing the plan to realization. Before the end of the
year, bids had been taken on three dams. Soon work was
under way. Men who otherwise would have been unem-
ployed went to work on the construction sites, building the
Charles Mill Reservoir on Black Fork, the Piedmont on Still-
water Creek, and the others elsewhere. From the valleys
rolled a stream of material orders which meant jobs for other
men in mines, mills, and factories.
The Charles Mill Dam was the first completed, being
finished in August 1936, and others were ready shortly
Within 4 years, all 14 dams, ranging in size up to 6,300
feet long in the case of Bolivar Dam on Sandy Creek and
to 1 13 feet high in the case of Pleasant Hill on Clear Fork,
had been constructed, dams which it was estimated were
capable of holding back a maximum of 20,000 million tons
of water. Eleven new lakes, with a shore line of more than
200 miles, were created.
To bring the project to completion required such under-
takings as the moving of 65 miles of railway, 140 miles of
highway, 50 bridges, and enough earth to build a great wall
12 feet high and 6 feet wide a distance equal to that between
New York and Chicago.
Along with flood reduction went the offensive against
erosion. Here, as in the reservoir construction, was an
example of Federal, State, and local cooperation toward a
common end, the restoration of the 100- by i4O-mile area
toward its once fertile, prosperous condition.
The Soil Conservation Service, the Forest Service, the
Biological Survey, WPA, CCC, and NYA were among the
Federal agencies taking part in the program through which
Muskingum became the greatest conservation laboratory in
Extensive control programs were put under way. Re-
forestation and afforestation began. Wildlife restoration
was launched around the new lakes. Recreational develop-
ments were started.
Again the chilling alarm of floods spread through Ohio in
1938. Muskingum residents read in their newspapers or
heard on their radios the story of advancing waters and
accompanying destruction. But Muskingum's inhabitants
went about their normal business, concerned about Ohioans
elsewhere but knowing that they, themselves, were fairly
secure. The violence of riotous floods had been banished
from Muskingum. The valley of Muskingum had become
What PWA Has Accomplished
to March 1, 1939
PWA has allotted funds for public works in 3,069 of the
Nation's 3,071 counties for
15,940 Federal projects under NIRA costing__ __$! ,567,533 ,029
1 ,840 Federal projects under PWA 1938 costing 199,999,207
51 low-rent housing projects costing l 136,669.759
3,734 non-Federal projects under NIRA costing 1,309,084,152
3,804 non-Federal projects under ERA 1935 and sup-
plemental costing .__ 792,878,629
. 1 , 768 non-Federal projects under FDA 1936 costing. _ 393 ,323 ,050
1,191 non-Federal projects under PWAE 1937 cost-
ing . __ 261,278,132
6, 180 non-Federal projects under PWAA 1938 cost-
34,508 projects costing 6,085,989,446
Projects completed or under construction:
26,508 projects completed costing.. 3,779,852,280
7,940 projects under construction costing 2,291,382,507
Contracts have been awarded on 2 percent '
Federal projects under NIRA 99.9 1,565,533,029
Federal projects under PWAA 1938 98.3 196,699.207
Non-Federal projects under NIRA 99.8 1,306,901,952
Non-Federal projects under ERA 1935 and
supplemental 99.9 792,358,629
Non-Federal projects under FDA 1936__ 99.9 393,159,414
Non-Federal projects under PWAE 1937 99.8 260,690,632
Non-Federal projects under PWAA 1938_ _ 99.9 1 ,423 ,895 ,638
Total 99.8 5,939,238,501
There has been spent on PWA projects:
For materials 2,174,833,430
Man-hours of employment provided by expenditures:
1. At site of construction. __ 1,714,797,910
2. Production of raw materials, transportation, and
fabrication. _ - 3,179,000,000
1 Figures as of November 1, 1937, the date on which these projects were transferred to the
2 Includes force account, but excludes housing projects.
Revenue Bond Laws
The so-called revenue bond laws recently enacted contain certain
essential and standard provisions. Among the more prominent and
characteristic provisions are the following:
1. A definition of what undertakings may be considered to be classified
as revenue producing under the terms of the act and therefore subject to
financing on the revenue bond basis contemplated by the statute. Also a
definition of the type and character of public corporations which would be
eligible to make use of the statute in this manner.
2. The extension of necessary powers to municipalities or other public
corporations to permit a maximum use of the authority delegated in the
act to such public bodies.
3. The general method and form of authorizing the construction or
acquisition of undertakings contemplated in the act, and the financing of
the same by the issuance of bonds thereunder.
4. The extension of power to make covenants with bondholders in a
broad sense in order to effectuate the purposes of the act, especially with
respect to the provisions necessary to render the securities offered accept-
able from an investment standpoint.
5. A definition of the lien of the securities issued under the statute with
respect to existing obligations and to those which may subsequently be
authorized to provide for extensions or improvements. Likewise a defini-
tion of the responsibility of municipalities with respect to the ultimate
repayment of the securities issued. Many statutes give no right to have
a foreclosure sale of the properties. The bondholders' remedies are (i) a
court order to maintain sufficient rates and (2) the appointment by a court
of a receiver to operate so long as interest or principal is in default.
Broad provisions indicating the use to which the revenues of an under-
taking may be put, and a declaration of the duties of the municipality
acquiring it in respect to the self-supporting features of the project.
Many acts, likewise, provide for the consent and jurisdiction of State
and municipal agencies, provisions against competing undertakings, and
a description of the extent to which the bonds and the income therefrom
may be subject to taxation.
TABLE 1. Status report of all appropriations
[As of Mar. 1, 1939]
priation Act, fiscal
Total appropriations or by sales of securities.
33,300,000, 000. 00
Statutory allotments, impoundments, and
transfers to other Federal departments,
bureaus, agencies, etc __
Funds transferred to U. S. Housing Authority
and Puerto Rican Reconstruction Admin-
Amount available and obligated for Public Works
Expenditures of available funds for loans and grants
to States, municipalities, railroads, and other
public bodies, including administrative expense:
Year ended une 30, 1934
Year ended une 30, 1935
Year ended une 30 1936
113 583 336 21
Year ended une 30, 1937 - .
Year ended une 30 1938
54 670 219 52
Period July 1 1938 to Feb 28 1939
9 465 048 22
294 330 861 22
Unexpended balance as of Mar. 1, 1939
19 008 576 52
Total appropriations or by
3291 359 861 91
3965 000 000 00
36 043 300 673 99
Statutory allotments, im-
poundments, and transfers
to other Federal depart-
ments, bureaus, agencies,
Funds transferred to U. S.
Housing Authority and
Puerto Rican Recon-
205 999 206 91
3 593 172 116 65
Amount available and obligated for
Public Works Administration
Expenditures of available funds
for loans and grants to States,
municipalities, railroads, and
other public bodies including
Year ended June 30, 1934
Year ended June 30, 1935
Year ended June 30 1936
Year ended June 30, 1937
Year ended June 30, 1938
Period July 1, 1938 to Feb. 28,
250 910 392 66
Unexpended balance as of Mar. 1,
1 All but 315,000,000 of this amount is obligated.
TABLE 2. Value of material orders placed for projects financed by PW 'A funds,
July 1933 to March 1939
All materials 32,174,833,431
Textiles and their products 4, 243, 589
Awnings, tents, canvas, etc 337, 037
Carpets and rugs 210, 418
Cordage and twine 389, 134
Cotton goods 192,829
Felt goods 269, 196
jute goods 131, 136
Sacks and bags 58,072
Upholstering materials, not elsewhere classified 141, 579
Waste ____ 35,625
Forest products 144,466,389
Cork products 671, 534
Lumber and timber products, not elsewhere classified 109, 887, 806
Planing-mill products____ 33,263,992
Window and door screens and weatherstrip 643, 057
Chemicals and allied products 19,498,648
Ammunition and related products 1, 226, 828
Chemicals, miscellaneous 613, 981
Compressed and liquefied gases 583, 872
Explosives 8, 175, 440
Paints and varnishes 8,898,527
Stone, clay and glass products 619,007, 376
Asbestos products, not elsewhere class ified 678, 046
Brick, hollow tile and other clay products 78,028,053
Cement . 211,222,795
Concrete products 78, 607, 065
Crushed stone 57, 205, 209
Marble, granite, slate and other stone products 45,096,324
Minerals and earths, ground or otherwise treated 346, 217
Sand and gravel 114,061,047
Tiling, floor and wall, and terrazzo 10, 774, 829
Wall plaster, wallboard, and insulating board 16,438,765
Iron and steel and their products, not including machinery 612, 600, 469
Bolts, nuts, washers, etc 6,930, 874
Cast-iron pipe and fittings 66, 635, 464
Doors, shutters and window sash and frames, molding and trim
Forgings, iron and steel 8, 815, 660
Hardware, miscellaneous 22, 403, 982
Heating and ventilating equipment 67, 495, 3 10
Nails and spikes 3, 241, 344
Rail fastenings, excluding spikes 6, 626, 272
Rails, steel 23,912,123
Springs, steel _ 630,176
Steel-works and rolling-mill products, not elsewhere classified 113, 182, 643
Stoves and ranges, other than electric 849, 599
Structural and reinforcing steel 226, 452, 427
Prepared in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Division of Construction and Public Employment.
TABLE 2. Value of material orders placed for projects financed by PWAjunds,
' July 1933 ot March 1939 Continued
Iron and steel and their products Continued.
Switches, railway 31,223,982
Tools, other than machine tools 6, 549, 439
Wire products, not elsewhere classified 12, 475, 197
Nonferrous metals and their products 20, 053, 523
Aluminum manufactures 1, 125, 578
Copper products 2,731,986
Lead products 920,066
Nonferrous-metal alloys and products, not elsewhere classified 3, 158, 522
Sheet-metal work____l 12,041,543
Zinc products 75, 828
Machinery, not including transportation equipment 356,264,837
Electrical machinery, apparatus, and supplies 94, 742, 776
Elevators and elevator equipment 11,418, 672
Engine, turbines, tractors, and waterwheels 34, 028, 486
Foundry and machine shop products, not elsewhere classified 175, 414, 183
Machine tools 8,920,723
Meters (gas, water, etc.) and gas generators 2,001,747
Pumps and pumping equipment 25, 685, 708
Refrigerators and refrigerating and ice-making apparatus 4, 052, 542
Transportation equipment, air, land, and water 91, 031, 392
Aircraft (new) 6,036,370
Airplane parts 5, 086, 654
Boats, steel and wooden (small) 1, 631, 837
Carriages and wagons 65, 044
Locomotives, other than steam 11, 910, 325
Locomotives, steam 6, 864, 720
Motorcycles and parts 274, 395
Motor vehicles, passenger 534, 354
Motor vehicles, trucks 10, 484, 482
Railway cars, freight 38, 820, 468
Railway cars, mail and express 429, 443
Railway cars, passenger 8, 893, 300
Miscellaneous 307, 667, 208
Belting, miscellaneous 100, 988
Electric wiring and fixtures 54, 866, 879
Furniture, including store and office fixtures 26, 623, 560
Instruments, professional and scientific 2, 423, 744
Mattresses and bedsprings 167,878
Models and patterns 64, 876
Paper products 234, 239
Paving materials and mixtures, not elsewhere classified 28, 964, 639
Petroleum products 53, 169, 177
Photographic apparatus and materials 383, 979
Plumbing supplies, not elsewhere classified 45, 786, 548
Radio apparatus and supplies 1, 101, 243
Roofing materials, not elsewhere classified 13, 538, 097
Rubber goods 1,387,431
Steam and other packing, pipe and boiler covering, and gaskets 3, 822, 361
Theatrical scenery and stage equipment 715, 072
Window shades and fixtures 949, 579
Other materials __ 70,348,691
Prepared in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Division of Construction and Public Employment.
) O f> ^H 10 1-H
m c *i
nd gravel 2
J3 g'S-s ^^f - u
2ocjtum:_ i a_'j^c
TABLE 4. Summary of securities purchased and under contract to be purchased, by programs
[As of Feb. 7, 1939]
Unlimited tax obliga-
$7 216 633
Limited tax obliga-
2 526 500
Special tax obligations
(payable from taxes
other than ad valo-
(payable solely from
revenues of project
Special revenue obliga-
secured by recourse
to taxes or other
bonds (without re-
course to general
Limited dividend housing
Other corporate securities __
TABLE 5. Public Works Administration bonds held by Reconstruction Finance Corporation
Type of bonds Amount
Unlimited tax obligations payable from unlimited ad valorem taxes 322,081,939
Limited tax obligations payable from limited ad valorem taxes 2, 551, 975
Special tax obligations payable from other than ad valorem taxes 163, 000
Revenue obligations payable solely from project or system revenues 79, 196, 140
Special revenue obligations, revenue obligation with recourse to taxation or
general funds 4,616,000
Special assessment obligations payable solely from special assessments 2, 482, 300
Miscellaneous obligations of public bodies, bonds and warrants payable from
delinquent ad valorem collections 1, 707, 529
Obligations of private corporations including housing loans but excluding
Combination of 2 or more of the above types of security 283, 400
TABLE 6. Summary of allotments, local funds provided for non-Federal projects distributed
by programs *
[As of Mar. 1, 1939]
ERA 1935 program
FDA 1936 program
PWAE 1937 program
144 695 914
116 582 218
PWAA 1938 program
3,970 409 560
2 124 751 262
1 845 658 298
Exclusive of allotments to railroads, private corporations, and limited dividend housing corporations.
TABLE 7. Conservation projects which include hydroelectric features financed in whole or in
part with PWA funds
Showlow Silver Creek
Water C. & P.
San Francisco City
City of Colorado
Town of Meeker
Idaho: Soda Springs
Soda Springs. __
Platte Valley Public
Power & Irriga-
Loup River Public
North Loup. .
North Loup River
( a )
Public Power and
Public Power and
Middle Loup Public
Power and Irriga-
City of High Point __
Grand River Dam
lic Service Au-
City of Abbeville
Red Bluff .
Red Bluff Water
L. C. R. A
City of Seattle. .
City of Spokane
Puerto Rico: Garzas.
People of Puerto
See footnotes at end of table.
TABLE 7. Conservation projects which include hydroelectric features financed in whole or in
part with PWA funds Continued
Arizona-Nevada: Boulder Canyon
Bureau of Reclamation
10 000 000
38 500 000
U, 317, 500
( 4 )
Central Valley (Shasta) __ .
Colorado: Colorado-Big Thompson
44 000 000
3 142 500
Montana: Fort Peck
49 531 000
122 900 000
5 71 500
New Mexico: Rio Grande-Elephant
Tennessee: (TVA) Tennessee Valley
Bureau of Reclamation
494 000 000
5 793 100
Corps of Engineers, U. S.
Washington: Grand Coulee
27 005 000
394 500 000
si 944 000
West Virginia: Tygart
Corps of Eneineers, U. S.
Bureau of Reclamacion
Texas: L. C. R. A. Marshall Ford Dam
Grand total .
1 Additions or alterations to existing facilities.
2 No generation.
4 For installation see Imperial project above.
6 No initial installation.
7 See L. C. R. A. non-Federal project.
TABLE 8. Non-Federal electric power projects financed in whole or in part with PWA funds
[As of Mar. 1. 1939]
New electric systems
Hydro.. . .
Diesel and other
Distribution and transmission
Additions to electric systems
Diesel and other
TABLE 9. Total costs, waterworks and sewerage construction in the United States (1918-38)
and approximate PWA aid
[Millions of dollars]
1923 . .
1 Percent of new sewerage construction of column 2.
2 Percent of new waterworks construction of column 6.
The figures in this table are the estimated expenditures made during the year as contrasted with the final cost
of projects upon which work was started during the year.
Column 1 : Total construction activity includes expenditure for new construction, maintenance, and in the
later years work-relief construction.
Columns 2 and 6: Include only new construction (PWA included in later years).
Columns 3 and 7: Include only maintenance.
Columns 4 and 8: Work-relief construction includes expenditures under the following agencies: 1. Civil Works
Administration, 2. Federal Emergency Relief Administration, 3. Works Progress Administration.
Columns 10 and 12: Include only actual incurred expenditures of PWA, which are included in columns
2 and 6,.
Sources: Construction and Real Property Section, Division of Economic Research, U. S. Department of Com-
merce and PWA.
TABLE 10. Non-Federal sewerage and refuse projects
[As of Mar. 1, 1939]
Total sewage disposal
3325, 357, 874
3122, 298, 876
3203, 058, 998
385, 405, 015
Total sanitary sewers
Total storm sewers
87, 614, 366
20, 576, 184
46, 080, 913
9, 553, 476
11, 335, 649
2, 049, 887
34, 745, 264
7, 503, 589
Total combined sewers
Grand total sewer and
32, 759, 590
23, 786, 950
12, 537, 254
6, 565, 476
20, 222, 336
17, 221, 474
8, 196, 295
8, 407, 156
12, 026, 041
8 814, 318
Grand total garbage and
Grand total sewerage sys-
10, 909, 406
466, 308, 014
4, 299, 333
187, 392, 291
6, 610, 073
278, 915, 723
2, 743, 750
106, 986, 846
3, 866, 323
Does not include loans by PWA.
TABLE 11. PWA non-Federal waterworks -projects
[As of Mar. 1, 1939]
SUMMARY OF NON-FEDERAL PROJECTS FOR ALL PROGRAMS
plied by ap-
Total complete water-
Total filtration plants
Total water mains
Grand total water-
1 Does not include loans by PWA.
TABLE 12. Summary of non-Federal hospital projects, by type
[As of Mar. 1, 1939]
Schools for feeble-minded
Charitable homes for aged
1 2 111
w g'O ~ c
O.S co U >,
rt ^" fc&^ g
(/j^^^JD^-iaj!* 1 *- 1 !^ *^
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CN O LO
?3 ^H \o
1 J^ O ON ON ' O
)^HTtl eOi ION
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S is yS
s 1 1]
2 1 li
s ^ 1
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i a D^H
TABLE 14. Allotments to cities, counties, and States for the construction of buildings for ad-
ministrative, legislative, judicial, and general governmental purposes
[As of Mar. 1, 1939]
Type of project
City and town halls
Courthouses _ _
Other city, county, and State administrative
and office buildings
Combined fire and police station
Fire alarm and police radio
Social and recreational buildings
Outdoor recreational facilities:
Grand total _
NOTE. Park developments also include sports facilities such as tennis courts and athletic fields. Recreational
centers include recreation piers, golf courses, yacht harbors, and other sports facilities. In addition to 126 allot-
ments for jails, there are 95 jails included in city halls and courthouses.
TABLE 15. Summary of PWA housing projects 1
Type of accommodations
Atlanta, Ga., Techwood Homes .
Apartments and group houses
32, 933, 500
Atlanta, Ga., University Homes
Group houses and flats
Atlantic Citv, N. J Stanley S. Holmes Village
1 550 000
Birmingham, Ala., Smithfield Court
2, 500 000
Boston, Mass., Old Harbor Village.
Apartments and group houses .
6, 636, 000
Buffalo, N. Y., Kenfield
Apartments, group houses, and flats
4 755 000
2 500 000
Camden, N. J., Westfield Acres
3, 116 160
Charleston, S. C., Meeting Street, Manor, and
Group houses __ .. __ __
1, 305, 000
Cooper River Court.
Chicago 111., Jane Addams Houses
7 041 759
Chicago, 111., Julia C. Lathrop Homes
Chicago, 111., Trumbull Park Homes
Apartments, group houses and flats
5', 862, 000
Cleveland, Ohio, Cedar-Central Apartments
Cleveland, Ohio, Outhwaite Homes
Apartments, group houses and flats
Cleveland, Ohio, Lakeview Terrace _ _
Apartments and group houses _ _
Columbia, S. C., University Terrace
Apartments, group houses and flats
Dallas Tex., Cedar Springs Place
Detroit, Mich., Brewster _
Detroit, Mich., Parkside
Enid Okla Cherokee Terrace
Evansville, Ind., Lincoln Gardens
Group houses and flats
Indianapolis, Ind., Lockefield Garden Apartments.
Apartments and group houses _ _
Jacksonville, Fla., Durkeeville _
Lackawanna, N. Y., Baker Homes
Group houses and flats
1 704 000
Louisville, Ky., La Salle Place
Louisville, Ky., College Court- . _ _ _ _ _ _
Group houses and flats..
Memphis. Tenn., Dixie Homes
As of Nov. 1, 1937, date on which these projects were transferred to the U. S. Housing Authority.
TABLE 15. Summary of PWA housing projects Continued
Type of accommodations
Memphis, Term., Lauderdale Courts __
Apartments and group houses
33 128 000
Miami, Fla., Liberty Square...
Milwaukee, Wis., Parklawn.
2 600 000
Minneapolis, Minn., Sumner Field Homes
3 632 000
Montgomery, Ala., Riverside Heights. . . ..
Montgomery, Ala., William B. Patterson Courts
Nashville, Tenn., Cheatham Place
2 000 000
Nashville, Tenn., Andrew Jackson Courts
1 890 000
New York, N. Y., Williamsburg Houses...
13 4^9 000
New York, N. Y., Harlem River Houses
4 219 000
Oklahoma City, Okla., Will Rogers Courts
2 000 000
Omaha, Nebr., Logan Fontenelle Homes
Group houses and fiats.
Philadelphia, Pa., Hill Creek
2 110 000
Caguas, Puerto Rico, W. I., Caserio La Granja _
San Juan, Puerto Rico, W. I., Caserio Mira-
Schenectady, N. Y., Schonowee Village.
1 435 000
Stamford, Conn., Fairfield Court
Toledo, Ohio, Brand Whitlock Homes . .
Apartments, group houses, and flats
2 000 000
Virgin Islands, W. I.:
Marley Homes. .
H. H. Berg Homes..
Washington, D. C., Langston
1 842 000
Wayne, Pa., Highland Homes . . _ _
Group houses and flats
' 344' 000
TABLE 16.- Status of non-Federal projects
Region and State
Region No. 1
6 758 063
Region No 2
Region No. 3
North Carolina ..
South Carolina .
TABLE 16. Status of non-Federal projects Continued
Region and State
Region No. 4
North Dakota. ._
Region No. 5
Region No. 6
Region No. 7
District of Colum-
bia and Terri-
District of Co-
TABLE 17. Status summary of non-Federal projects for all programs
[As of Mar. 1, 1939]
ALL APPLICATIONS FILED TO DATE 1
Funds requested recommended or allotted
38, 856, 147, 754
34, 788, 871, 383
34, 067, 276, 371
312, 212, 733, 502
3, 167, 138, 998
2, 278, 747, 688
5, 736, 675, 369
626, 134, 786
262, 256, 524
1, 509, 019, 867
769, 727, 821
1, 755, 862, 418
In central office
In regional office
262, 105, 274
769, 600, 471
1, 755, 579, 418
5, 689, 008, 756
3, 900, 480, 073
1, 788, 528, 683
For convenience, this summary also appears on reverse side.
TABLE 17. Status summary of non-Federal projects for all programs Continued
STATUS OF ALLOTTED PROJECTS, N. I. R. A. PROGRAM
3682, 421, 825
3417, 866, 743
31, 108, 109, 652
121, 482, 866
295, 701, 877
48, 889, 190
215, 009, 892
1, 453, 200
202, 186, 105
903, 465, 074
2, 458, 473
E.R.A. 1935 AND E.R.A. 1935 SUPPLEMENTAL PROGRAMS
3444, 638, 825
3111, 393, 185
3333, 245, 640
3792, 878, 629
136, 905, 667
307, 213, 158
56, 123, 000
54, 984, 185
80, 782, 667
252, 228, 973
189, 706, 423
602, 652, 206
STATUS OF ALLOTTED PROJECTS, F. D. A. 1936 PROGRAM
3179, 642, 771
320, 350, 525
3159, 292, 246
3393, 323, 050
Acceptance approved or
agreement executed by
50, 833, 477
43, 817, 777
121, 986, 199
128, 645, 658
Total not started
P. W. A. E. 1937 PROGRAM
3144, 695, 914
332, 948, 500
3261, 278, 132
Acceptance approved or
agreement executed by
Under construction. _
101, 808, 878
79, 494, 378
169, 354, 859
39, 988, 536
91, 335, 773
Total not started
2 Each status group represents the present standing of projects. To arrive at the total number of projects
upon which, for example, bids have been advertised, it is necessary to add figures in that status group plus those
in succeeding status groups, i. e., "bids advertised," "contract awarded," "under construction," and "com-
pleted." To determine the number of projects upon which, for example, bids have not been advertised, it is
necessary to add the figures for all status groups preceding "bids advertised."
TABLE 17. Status summary of non-Federal projects for all programs Continued
P. W. A. A. 1938 PROGRAM
3683, 755, 318
343, 575, 833
3640, 179, 485
31, 425, 223, 488
Agreement or offer ac-
cepted by applicant
Acceptance approved or
agreement executed by
676, 364, 533
5, 422, 279
42, 799, 433
633, 565, 100
5, 224, 879
1, 760, 837
1, 410, 530, 897
Under construction. _ _
Completed _ _.
Total not started _ _
1, 968, 506
1, 389, 506
3, 088, 687
NOTE. Projects for railroad construction and low cost housing excluded; limited dividend housing projects
TABLE 18. Non-Federal projects 1 portion of all programs completed
[As of Mar. 1, 1939]
Portion of program completed
Total cost of
Cost of projects
costs 2 on un-
31, 108, 109, 652
792, 878, 629
393, 323, 050
261, 278, 132
1, 425, 223, 488
741, 355, 000
356, 250, 000
172, 350, 000
187, 850, 000
3903, 465, 074
602, 652, 206
271, 173, 215
91, 335, 773
3128, 184, 926
138, 702, 794
85, 076, 785
81, 014, 227
176, 246, 096
ERA 1935 and ERA 1935
2, 489, 455, 000
1, 880, 230, 172
609, 224, 828
1 Projects for railroad construction and low-cost housing excluded, limited dividend housing projects included.
2 Reported project costs represent the cost of material in place ('including the cost of labor performed) and
miscellaneous costs for that portion of the work completed.
TABLE 19. Summary of non-Federal projects, by types
[As of Mar. 1, 1<>39]
348, 046, 941
t^-OONOOO"^ t^OOi t^cOCMOOOCMLOVO
CO R -
CTs ^O ro CN
ooo i ^r^- < -oi x -. OOM^O
Funds supplied by
LO ' OO O
ON 0^ co CM co" NO ?o 5 C
oo^cT 00*10 r^oTvoVT^- -^
ro c^> VC
rt 1 ro co CM
: ! i
'' '' i
i i i
i 1 sj i
Secondary schools ___
Colleges and universities
Other educational buildings
Municipal auditoriums and armories-
Courthouses and city halls .
Hospitals and institutions
Social, recreational buildings __
S i i ! i
Streets and highways
Roads and highways
Grade crossing elimination
Sewers, waterworks, power, other faci
Sewage disposal plants
Sewer and water. _ .
Garbage and rubbish disposal ...
Gas plants. ___- --
Electric power excluding water pc
Electric distribution system-
1 Does note include loans by PWA.
3 Figures as of Nov. 1, 1937, the date on which these projects were transferred to the U. S. Housing Authority.
0" ^H"^." TjT-H"
t^T-H O t^
10 <N ON
O O ^
Office and administrative
Warehouses, laboratories, shops, etc
Hnnsine (limited dividend 1 ) 2
Flood control, water power and reclamation
Dams and canals
Dams and canals
Channel rectification, levees, e
Other navigation aids..
Engineering structures __ .
Bridges and viaducts -
Wharves, piers, and docks
Subways and tunnels.
Channel rectification, levee
Water power development .
TABLE 20. Summary of Federal projects, by types
[As of Feb. 28, 1939]
Grand total all types
Streets and highways
?1, 567,533 ,029
Roads and highways. _
Sewer systems .
Sewage disposal plants
Sewer and water .
Complete waterworks. . _
Garbage and rubbish disposal.
Electric power excluding
Electric distribution sys-
Buildings _ . .
Educational buildings .
Colleges and universities
Other educational institu-
Auditoriums and armories
Courthouses and city halls
Hospitals and institutions
Social, recre tional buildings. _
Office and administrative
Miscellaneous . _
Flood control, water power,
Dams and canals
Channel rectification, levees,
Water power development
Water navigation aids
Dams and canals
Channel rectification, levees,
Other navigation aids
TABLE 20. Summary of Federal projects, by types Continued
[As of Feb. 28, 1939]
Bridges and viaducts. _ .
Wharves, piers, docks
Improvement to landing fields-
Surveying and mapping
to Federal land
Machine tools for navy yards-
Game and fish protection
Other pest and disease control-
TABLE 21. -Non-Federal projects, Federal projects, and Federal low-cost housing projects,
[Table showing estimated cost and allotments, distributed by type of project, as of March 1, 1939]
$499 856 915
Hospitals and institutions for med-
152 045 507
184 700 300
Electric power, excluding water
Streets and highways
Engineering structures v
136 009 957
157 730 131
Flood control, water power and
Limited dividend housing 2 _ _
Federal low-cost housing 2
485 901 278
3 413 221 862
1 Includes allotments to Federal agencies.
2 Figures as of Nov. 1, 1937, the date on which these projects were transferred to the U. S. Housing Authority.
Allotments made available under authority of the Fourth Deficiency Act, fiscal year 1933 (Public, No. 77, 73d
Cong.), the Emergency Appropriation Act, fiscal year 1935 (Public, No. 412, 73d Cong.), the Emergency Relief
Appropriation Act of 1935 (Public Res. No. 11, 74th Cong.), the First Deficiency Appropriation Act, fiscal year
1936, the Public Works Administration Extension Act of 1937, and the Public Works Administration Appro-
priation Act of 1938.
Alabama: Mobile Tunnel 187
Alabama Power Co 57-59, 123
Alabama, University of 135
Alburg, Vt__ 129-130
Alcatraz Penitentiary 200
All-American Canal. _ 110
Annapolis, Md 164-165
Appleton, Wis 163
Arkansas: Mental hospitals 147
Arkansas, University of 152
Asheville, N. C 201
Astoria, Oreg 184
Federal Penitentiary 200
Police headquarters 199
Regional office. (See footnote.) _ _ 45
Techwood Homes 207-208, 211, 216
Atlanta Penitentiary 200
Atlantic City 212
Auburn (N. Y.) prison 200
Auditoriums 200-201, 203, 238-241
Aviation . 108,191-192,254
Barre, Vt 201
Barton County, Mo __ 200
Bidding 78-79, 82, 88-90
Big Sandy, Tex 177
Birmingham, Ala ^__ . 212,216
Bloomdale, Ohio 174
Bond sales 63,67-68,229
Bonneville Dam__ .115-119,190
General Hospital 146
Municipal credit 6
Police radio 198
Boulder Dam . 110-112
Bound Brook, N. J. (See footnote.) _ 156
Bridgeport, Tex 177
Brooklyn, N. Y_ __ 134,214
Brownsville, Tex __ .231-234
Budget Bureau 98
Convention Hall 201
Sewage plant 161
Sewer authority 54
Building specifications 77-78
Buildings, public 8, 30
Bureau of Labor Statistics 18-20,
Business cycles. . _ 11, 70, 95, 221-22
Alameda-Contra Costra Tunnel__ 187
All-American Canal 110
Legislation 55, 247
Los Angeles schools 244-248
Ca-mden, N. J 188
Canadian, Tex 177
Cape May, N. J 205
Capital goods 9
Carmody, John M II
Change orders 80
Charleston, S. C . 212,216
Charleston, W.Va.. 201
Charlotte, N. C 198
Municipal credit 6
Regional office. (See footnote.) _ _ 45
Sewerage system . 162, 234-238
Water supply 172, 173-174
Municipal credit 6
Civil Aeronautics Authority 191
Civil Works Administration 39, 220
Colleges. (See Schools.)
Denver water supply 248-252
Federal prison 200
Columbia, S. C 203
Columbus, Ga 133
Federal prison 200
Mental hospitals 147, 148
Early Federal 95-97
PWA standards 81-82, 139, 227
United States, total 2, (chart) 3
Water supply 172
Consumers goods 9, 20-23
Bidding 78-79, 82, 88-90
Contractors 19, 90
Corpus Christi, Tex 190
Costigan, Sen. Edward P 4
Courthouses . 25-26, 196-197
Credit 10, 11,37,62-63,69
For employment 39-40
For projects 36, 62-63, 73-82
Culpeper, Va 121
Cutting, Sen. Bronson 4
Danville, Va 121
Water supply 173
Delaware, Ohio -197
Denison, Tex 177
DePere, Wis ,__ 163
Des Moines _ 160,198
Detroit: Brewster housing project. _ 90
District of Columbia __ 164
Education. (See Schools.) 127-139
Bonneville Dam 116-119
Boulder Dam 112
Cascade Locks, Wash 116
Culpeper, Va 121
Danville, Va ... 121
Hoisington, Kans 121
Lower Colorado River author-
PWA policy. . - - 123-124
Steam and Diesel plants 121
Engineering criteria 7382
Federal Employment Stabilization
Federal Works Agency II, VI
Financial criteria 62, 63
Fire stations 198
Flemington, N. J. (S^ footnote.) __ 156
Boulder Dam 110-112
Lower Colorado River 119
Mississippi River 110
Muskingum Valley, Ohio.. 109, 258-261
Overseas Highway 70, 187, 241-244
Tuberculosis hospital 149
Fort Peck Dam 190
Fort Smith, Ark 66-67
Fort Worth. (See footnote.) 45, 203
Fremont, Nebr 201
Gadsden, Ala 201
Gainesville, Mo 197
Gallatin, Albert. (See footnote.) ... 96
Genessee Co., N. Y__ 134
Georgia: Constitution 53
Georgia, University of 152
Glen Rose, Tex 177
Gold Beach, Oreg 182-183
Goose Creek, Tex 177
Grade Crossings 188
Grand Coulee Dam 26, 88, 117-119
Grand River Dam 119
Grandview, Tex 177
Grants in aid 18, 37, 43, 95-97
Green Bay, Wis 163
Gulfport, Miss 190
Hallettsville, Tex 177
Hammond, Ind 201
Hearne, Tex 177
Highland Park, N. J. (See foot-
Hoisington, Kans 121
Holland, Mich 124
Hoover, Herbert C 4, 12
Arkansas, University of 152
Florida __ 149
Hospitals Continued Page
Georgia, University of 152
General 143, 144-146
Homes for Aged 150
Illinois, University of 152
Indiana, University of- 152
Kansas, University of 152
Louisville, University of 152
Mansfield, Conn 148
Maryland, University of 152
Mental__. - 142,146-148
Moose Lake, Minn 147
Need for. . - 142-144,153
New Orleans - 144-146
New York City 152
Rhode Island 147
Rolla, Mo 153
Syracuse University 151
Tuberculosis. _. - 148-150
University - 151-152
Washington, University of 253
Westchester Co., N. Y__ 150
Houston, Tex_ . 190
Howard University 137
Humble, Tex ... 177
Ickes, Harold L__ _ V-VI, 34, 57, 123, 229
Idaho: Legislation 52
Illinois: Army Air Field. _. 107
Illinois, University of 152
Indiana: Federal prison 200
Indiana, University of 152
Indianapolis. (See footnote.) 134,
Indians 109, 136
Brick and tile 24
Cement and concrete 27, 221
Electrical goods 24
Material orders 19-21,
248, 252, 255, 258.
Sand and gravel 24, 27
Steel and iron 27
Inspection.. . 40,79-80
Interstate Sanitation Commission 161
Investigation 41, 86-91
Davenport Bridge 187
Stream pollution 160
Ail-American Canal 110
Denver County 248,251
Nebraska __ 120
Willacy County, Tex 233
Jails and prisons 199-200
Joliet (111.) Prison 200
Justice, Department of 57, 87, 91, 200
Kansas City, Mo _ 238-241
Kansas, University of 152
Kaukauna, Wis 163
Federal prison 200
Gold depository 106-107
Key West, Fla_._ _ 241-244
Keyport, N. J. (See footnote.) 156
Keyser, W. Va 80
Direct and indirect 28, 30
Employment 17-31, 227-229,
248, 252, 255, 258.
Misclassification J 88
LaFollette, Sen. Robert M., Jr 4
Langley Field, Va 107-108, 191
Litigation 56-59, 2 1 2
Local 49-60, 65-66, 220, 247, 259
Stream pollution 159
Leonard, Tex / 177
Linden, Tex 177
Little Chute, Wis 163
Long Beach, Calif 244-248
Long Beach, N. Y 64, 205
Water supply 112, 172
Louisiana State University 146
Louisville, Ky._ _ 212,214
Louisville, University of 152
Lower Colorado River Authority. 119, 122
Lyme, Conn .130-131
Maine : Deer Isle Bridge 187
Manville, N. J. (See footnote.) _ . 156
Markets, public . 203-204
Marshfield, Oreg 183
Stream pollution 164
Maryland, University of 152
Electric distribution 122
Safety of workers 88
Menasha, Wis 163
Metuchen, N. J. (See footnote.) _. 156
Miami . 214,216
Middlesex, N. J. (See footnote.) __ 156
Mina, Nev 174
Minneapolis 157, 165, 202
Roads and highways 185
Mobile, Ala_. 190,204
Mobridge, S. Dak ___.. 201
Moffat Tunnel 250
Montgomery, Ala 211, 216
Morehead City, N. C 190
Naples, Tex 177
National defense 107-108
National Health Conference 142
National Industrial Recovery Act
(N. I. R. A.) 2, 34, 104, 209, 219
National Reemployment Service 86, 88
Naval vessels 30,37
Navigation 96, 112, 119,
Nebraska: Electric power 120
Neenah, Wis 163
New Brunswick, N. J. (See foot-
New Jersey. Page
Mental hospitals 147
Stream pollution _ 155-166
New Mexico: Legislation 52
New Orleans 144, 203, 210
New York City:
Brooklyn college 134
Housing _ 210,213-214
Lincoln Tunnel 43
Municipal credit 63
Regional office. (See footnote.),. 45
Traffic problem _ _ 186, 226
Triborough Bridge. . . 70, 186, 226-230
Water supply 172
New York State:
Buffalo Sewer Authority 54
Home for aged 150
Legislation 52, 55
Mental hospitals 147
Stream pollution 161
Newport, Oreg _. . 182-183
Niagara River 161
North Carolina: Mental hospitals __ 147
Oakland, Calif 25-26, 196
Flood reduction _ 109,258-261
Water supply 173
Oklahoma: Electric power 119
Oklahoma City.. .200-201
Olean, N. Y__' 169
Omaha. (See footnote.) 45
Coastal highway 182-184
State Capitol 197
Organization of PWA 34-35,44-46
Oshkosh, Wis__. 163
Pasadena, Tex 177
Pecos, Tex 177
Express highway 188
Pennsylvania Railroad 189
Performance bonds 79
Personnel . 33-35, 44-45
Perth Amboy, N. J. (Sff footnote.) .. 156
Philadelphia, Pa 132, 188,210,216
Pittsburg, Tex 177
Plainfield, N. J. (Sef footnote.) __ 156
Police stations 196-200
Port Lavaca, Tex 204
Portland. (See footnote.) 45
Post offices 106
Providence, R. I __ ___ 191
Public Health (See also Hospitals).
Hospitals and clinics 141-153
Water supply - 169-179
Planning 1 1-14, 97-98, 222
PWA criteria 36
Ratio of labor to materials 20-21
Regenerative effects 10
Revenue producing 8, 203-205
Theory of _ _ 1-14
Railroads 41, 188-189, 220
Raritan, N. J. (See footnote.) 156
Raritan River 70, 155-156
Reconstruction Finance Corpora-.
tion - 6, 183
Regional offices (chart) 42, 44, 45
Rental, housing 215-216
Revenue bonds 53, 56,65-67,69
Rhode Island: Mental hospital 147
Roads and highways 8, 30, 36, 97,
104-106, 182-188, 226-230, 241-244
Rochester, N. Y__.. ___ 136
Rolla, Mo 153
Roosevelt, Theodore 96
Round Rock, Tex __ 177
Salem, Oreg 197
St. Paul _ 156,165
San Antonio, Tex 210
Municipal credit 6
Regional office. (See footnote.) __ 45
United States mint 106
Santa Anna, Tex 177
Santee Cooper project 119
Sayreville, N. J. (See footnote.) _ _ 156
Alabama, University of 135
Alburg, Vt _ 129-130
Arkansas, University of 152
Brooklyn, N. Y 134
Columbus, Ga 133-134
Consolidation - 130-132
Construction standards 138,139
Genesee County, N. Y 134
Georgia, University of 152
Howard University 137
Illinois, University of 152
Indiana, University of 152
Indianapolis. (See footnote.) 134
Indian 109, 136
Kansas, University of 152
Keyser, W. Va 80
Long Beach, N. Y 16
Los Angeles 79
Louisville, University of 152
Lyme, Conn 130-131
Maryland, University of 152
Palm Springs, Calif 130
Philadelphia ___ 132
Rochester, N. Y., Library 136
Safety factors 137
Syracuse University 151
Topeka . 22-24
United States Military Academy. 136
United States Naval Academy 136
Virginia Polytechnic Institute 135
Washington, University of 252-255
Carlstadt, N. J 77
District of Columbia 164
Economic losses 156-158
Fox River 162-163
Garbage disposal 166
Mississippi River 157
New York State 160-161
Ohio River 157
Perth Amboy, N. J 156
Raritan River 155-166
St. Paul 165
Treatment plants. __ 8, 30, 155-166, 237
Sewage Continued Page
Wisconsin. _ _ 162-163
Sing Sing (N. Y.) Prison 200
Snyder, Okla... 173
Somerville, N. J. (See footnote.) __ 156
Electric power 119
Water supply 177
South Dakota: State Hotel 204
South River, N. J. (See footnote.)- 156
Stamford, Conn 216
Stockton, Calif 204
Stream pollution.... 53, 155-166,234-235
Supreme Court 58-59, 235
Sutherland, Justice 58
Syracuse University. .. 151
Federal prison 200
Lower Colorado River author-
Water supply 177
Tonawanda, N. Y 161
Wage expenditures 22-26
Transportation. 181-193, 226-230, 241-244
Treasury, United States 41
Triborough Bridge authority 70,
Tulane University 146
Tyronza, Ark. _ 176
University Park, Tex 177
Universities. (See Schools.)
United States Military Academy 136
United States Naval Academy 136,
United St-':* Public Health Serv-
ice. f__. 142
Utah:~Ogden reclamation project. __ 112
Virginia: p age
Blue Ridge Parkway 104
Stream pollution 164
Virginia Polytechnic Institute 135
Wages, distribution of 20, 22
Wagner, Sen. Robert F_ _ 4, 217
Washington, D. C 216
Washington National Airport 191
Washington State 26,88,
Washington, University of 252-255
Bloomdale, Ohio 174
Chicago 172, 173-174
Economic value 171, 176-178
Fire-insurance rates _ .. 171,176-177
Los Angeles 172
Mina, Nev_. 174
New York City. _ 172
Snyder, Okla 173
South Carolina 177
Texas _.-_____ 177
Treatment 77, 174, 175-176
Tyronza, Ark 176
Webster, N. Y 170-171
West Virginia 170
Wilton, Ala . 173, 255-257
Wayne, Pa 214
Webster, N. Y 170-171
Kanawha Dam 112
Water supply 177
WillacyCo., Tex_. 233
Wilton, Ala___ . 173,255-257
Woodbridge, N. J. (See footnote.)- 156