WPA Projects in New York City, 1 July 1938 - 30 June 1939

This document from the New York City Parks Department press release archive for 1939 shows what the Work Projects Administration accomplished in just 12 months in just one city of the United States [see original document].
FROM:  Public Information Section
Work Projects Administration
70 Columbus Avenue, New York City
Circle 6-4000, Ext. 786
August 16, 1939

Lieut. Col. Brehon Somervell, Work Projects Administrator for New York City, made public yesterday a tabulated summary of the physical accomplishments of the WPA Division of Operations in the five boroughs during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1939. The Division of Operations is the organization's construction and engineering division.

Various types of public buildings head the list, with 308 new structures erected and 635 buildings repaired and modernized during the year, including 30 additions. Work in progress on June 30, not included in these totals, comprised 76 new buildings, and repairs and improvements to 230 buildings, including 13 additions. New buildings in progress included two public schools, four fire houses, three police stations, seven aircraft hangars, three warehouses and five garages. Repairs were in progress on 18 schools, 27 hospital buildings, 11 administrative buildings and 17 recreational buildings. In the slum clearance program, 2,072 buildings were demolished during the year.

A total of 190.2 miles of new highways were constructed, of which 151 miles were paved, and 211.6 miles of existing highways, including 107.4 miles of paved road, were repaired. New road construction in progress at the end of the period totalled 45.5 miles of which 36 miles were paved. One of seven new bridges built was a steel structure 2,000 feet long. At the end of the period, repairs were in progress on 11 steel bridges, totalling 14,065 feet in length. Related highway work completed during the year included 218.4 miles of new curbs laid, with 42.5 miles of curb still in progress, 20 miles of guardrails and guardwalls, and 21,047 feet of roadside drainage ditch dug. New sidewalks totalled 150.9 miles, of which 123.7 miles were paved, and an additional 28.4 miles of paved sidewalks and eight miles of unpaved paths were in progress at the end of the year.

Recreational facilities built during the year, exclusive of buildings, include 10 new athletic fields and the remodelling of eight others; and fourteen new parks, squares and triangles, adding 210.3 acres to the city's park system, with renovation work on 25 existing park areas totalling 16,868 acres. Fifteen new school playgrounds were constructed during the year and repairs were made to twelve others. New playgrounds constructed for the Department of Parks totalled 43, with repairs to nine others. Fourteen new wading pools were built. On June 30, work was still in progress on seven more new athletic fields, one new park area of 9.7 acres and the repair of areas totalling 1,541.9 acres, three new school playgrounds and 24 Department of Parks playgrounds, twenty new wading pools, 82 tennis courts, 152 handball courts and eight skating rinks.

Completed additions to the city's water supply system included 106.3 miles of water mains, with 11.1 miles more in progress. The modernization and extension of the city's sewer system comprised the construction of 54.3 miles of new sanitary and storm sewers and the repair and rebuilding of 34 miles of existing sewers, with 5.6 miles of new sewers still uncompleted at the end of the period. Marsh drainage and mosquito control work included the digging of 308.3 miles of new drainage ditch, the newly drained area amounting to 6,076.5 acres, and repairs to 45.6 miles of existing ditch. Drainage pipe laid in addition to that laid for roadside drainage totalled 15.6 miles.

In waterfront improvements, repairs were completed to 18 piers with an area of 1,087,829 square feet and two abandoned piers were demolished. Two new piers with an area of 54,750 square feet are now being built for the city.

Two breakwaters were built, an existing breakwater was repaired, a total of 3,327 linear feet of bulkheads was built and repairs were made to 12,198 feet of existing bulKheads. Retaining walls snd revetments to a total length of 19,461 feet were built and additional walls aggregating 4,690 feet in length are in progress.

Two power houses with a total capacity of 2,000 kilowatts are in course of construction. Thirty-three miles of electric transmission and power distribution lines, and 6.7 miles of telephone and telegraph lines were laid. In the expansion of the police traffic signal and fire alarm telegraph systems a total of 141.4 miles of cable was laid in underground conduits, the work entailing the digging of the ditch, the laying of the conduit and pulling the cable through. Work is in progress on an additional 7.4 miles of these lines. Five miles of steam distribution lines were laid.

Exclusive of park work, the WPA carried on landscaping operations on 672.4 acres, with work on 411 acres still in progress.

The tabulated summary of completed work in Greater New York for the fiscal year from July 1, 1938 to June 30, 1939 follows:

                                             NEW             REPAIRS AND
                                        CONSTRUCTION         IMPROVEMENTS

PUBLIC BUILDINGS                                308               633

  Schools                                                          85
  Libraries                                                        20
  Recreational Buildings                          7                 9
  Hospitals                                                        65
  Baby health stations and other
     institutional buildings                     19                 5
  Courthouses and other administra-
     tive buildings                               8               101
  Dormitories                                     6                23
  Fire houses                                     4                63
  Police stations                                                  15
  Garages                                        17                25
  Aircraft hangars                                                  4
  Warehouses                                      9                51
  Armories                                                         12
  Other buildings                               238               155

DEMOLITION OF BUILDINGS                                         2,072


   Highways - paved                          151 miles            104.4 miles
   Highways - unpaved                         40.8 miles           92.3 miles
   Bridges                                     7                   54
   Culverts                                   10                   22
   Sidewalks - paved                         123.7 miles           80.8 miles
   Sidewalks and paths  unpaved              27.2 miles            6.7 miles
   Curbs                                     218.4 miles          110.2 miles
   Gutters                                    15.7 miles          1 5.  miles
   Guard rails and guard walls                20.1 miles            0.6 miles
   Lights for roads and streets              326                  149
   Roadside drainage - ditch              21,047   feet         1,520   feet
   Roadside drainage - pipe                6,571   feet            12   feet
   Roadside landscaping                       23.5 miles           18.1 miles
   Street signs made                      27,800
   Removal of car tracks                                           13.1 miles

   Runways                                 3,032 feet
   Air beacons                                 1
   Air markers                               377

   Athletic fields                            10                    8
   Parks, squares and triangles               14                   25
   Playgrounds - school                       15                   12
   Playgrounds - other                        43                    9
   Wading pools                               14                   20
   Tennis courts                              61
   Handball courts                           191
   Horseshoe courts                           79
   Skating rinks                               6
   Bridle paths                                1.6 miles


  Water mains                                106.3 miles           53 miles
  Consumer connections                     5,955
  Storage tanks                                5
  Gate houses                                                       1
  Water treatment plants                                            4
  Pumping stations                             1                    4


   Storm and sanitary sewers                  54.3 miles           34 miles
   Service Connections                     2,492                4,948
   Manholes and catch basins               4,878                1,696
   Septic tanks                               13
   Sewage treatment plants                                         10
   Mosquito control - ditch                  308.3 miles           46.5 miles
   Mosquito control - area drained         6,076.5 acres          106.2 acres
   Mosquito control - spray used          56,464   gallons
   Drainage pipe laid (other than
      roadside)                               15.6 miles


   Piers repaired                                                  18
   Piers demolished                                                 2
   Breakwaters                                 2                    1
   Bulkheads                               3,327 linear ft.    12,198 linear ft
   River bank improvements                     2.4 miles
   Stream bed improvements                     6.5 miles
   Riprap                                  5,504 square yards
   Retaining walls and revetments         19,461 linear ft.     6,110 linear ft


   Transmission lines                         20.9 miles
   Power distribution lines                   12.2 miles
   Consumer connections                      141
   Telephone and telegraph lines               6.7 miles
   Police traffic and fire alarm signals     141.4 miles


  Landscaping (exclusive of parks)           358.3 acres          211 acres
  Lighting airports, packing lots,
     athletic fields, etc                    879 acres             68 acres
  Fountains and ornamental pools              36
  Fencing                                     40.7 miles            8.3 miles


   Paving (other than roads, walks and
      runways)                           809,791 sq. yds.      44,313 sq. yds.
   Tunnels                                 1,300 feet           6,276 feet
   Monuments and historic markers                              12,760
   Gas lines                               8,975 feet           6,321 feet
   Excavation or fill                 10,981,472 cu. yds.
   Clearing and grubbing                   1,619.9 acres
   Grading                                   740 acres            529.7 acres
   Setting benches                         5,399


   Concrete articles                     100,475
   Cement blocks                       1,250,379
   Wooden articles                        12,403


   Planting beach grass                       75.5 acres
   Trees and plants planted                7,507
   Trees trimmed                          11,890
   Noxious plant eradication                  52.5 acres
   Spray treatments (except
      mosquito control)                      185.5 acres
   Surveys conducted                          58


   Articles of furniture repaired          9,178
   Public buildings cleaned                   30
   Lots cleared                            9,461.6 acres