A headline in the San Diego Union on Sunday, September 20, 1936 proclaimed:
“$400,000 Zoo Improvement Program Near Completion,”
The program, including construction of an aviary, a reptile house and an amphitheater for educational and community programs, extensive landscaping, and new sewer and drainage systems, “will be completed this fall, Mrs. Belle Benchley, curator, announced yesterday,” the article stated.
Curator Benchley pointed out the “The entire program was a WPA project.”
The reptile house and some other WPA-built facilities at the zoo continue to serve their animal occupants and zoo visitors today. They are worth visiting in and of themselves, of course, and also worth remembering as part of the enormous contribution to the nation’s public facilities and infrastructure made by the WPA, the CCC and other New Deal programs instituted during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Some other examples of San Diego structures that began as part of WPA projects are the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park and the Open Air Theater on the SDSU campus. Not to mention schools, sewage treatment plants, murals and soil reclamation projects all over the county. This heritage is being rediscovered and preserved through the Living New Deal Project, which tracks past and still existent public works projects built during that era across the United States.
I heartily recommend a visit to the project’s website: https://livingnewdeal.org/ .
Due to mounting work demands, I’ve gone to an every-other-week schedule. So look for the next new post on February 15. Feel free, in the meantime, to enjoy past posts or check out my books, offered for sale under the “Books” tab.
Get Updates Automatically-Become A Follower of the San Diego History Seeker
You can get weekly updates of San Diego History Seeker automatically in your email by clicking on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the blog page. You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm. Once you confirm you’ll be an active follower