Figure 1 WPA Artist's Project poster, Cleveland, OH 1930s, courtesy of Library of Congress Digital Collection
From 1934-1942 work was being done throughout the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District (now Cleveland Metroparks) under the Works Progress Administration, or WPA. The WPA was one of many federal programs aimed at putting people to work during the Great Depression.
Figure 2 Bonnie Park Shelter House photos from Cleveland Metroparks Historic Photograph Collection
The WPA was a perfect example of cooperation between local and federal governments. Local governments or agencies, in this case the park system, paid for materials and oversaw the projects. Local workers were hired , but their paycheck came from the federal government.
Figure 3 WPA employment card Cleveland Metroparks Historic Photo Collection
Many of the people hired by the WPA were unskilled laborers whose work was instrumental in digging and laying foundations, framing buildings and building retaining walls. Other WPA workers were skilled craftsmen whose labors produced beautiful and intricate stone and woodwork.
Figure 4 close-up of wood detail Brecksville Nature Center, Cleveland Metroparks Historic Photo Collection
Figure 5 WPA poster 1930s, photo courtesy of Library of Congress Digital Collection
Figure 6 Bonnie Park Shelter House, 2021
The shelter house at Bonnie Park is just one of many lasting examples of WPA work in Cleveland Metroparks. You can see their work at Look About Lodge in our South Chagrin Reservation, the Brecksville Nature Center in Brecksville Reservation, Lakes Wallace and Baldwin, and Music Mound in Mill Stream Run Reservation, and many other spots throughout Cleveland Metroparks.
Figure 7 Look About Lodge construction and interior 1939, Cleveland Metroparks Historic Photo Collection
Figure 8 Look About Lodge 2021
Figure 9 Brecksville Nature Center 1939, Cleveland Metroparks Historic Photo Collection
Figure 10 Brecksville Nature Center, 2021
Figure 11 Lake Baldwin 1942, Cleveland Metroparks Historic Photo Collection
Figure 12 Bridge and dam at Lake Baldwin, 2021
Figure 13 Music Mound 1945, Cleveland Metroparks Historic Photo Collection
Figure 14 Stone detail at Music Mound, 2021
When you enjoy a picnic or a walk at one of these sites, take a moment to remember the work of so many hands, so long ago that continues to benefit so many people to this day.
Figure 15 Cleveland area WPA workers, Cleveland Metroparks Historic Photo Collection