The stock market crashed in 1929 and the Great Depression started shortly thereafter. Herbert Hoover, the President, and his successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, tried many different programs to help the economy – some that worked and many that didn’t work. The Great Depression did not loosen its’ grip on our economy until we became a part of World War II in 1941.
One of the programs that worked for President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the Works Progress Administration, which was created by Congress through the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act in April of 1935. In Depression-era Kentucky, people desperately needed jobs. Roosevelt's New Deal program did just that, funding hundreds of labor projects, from road construction and forest conservation to cultural programs in music, art, and history. The Works Progress Administration was renamed the Work Projects Administration (WPA) in 1939 and was the largest agency in the New Deal, employing millions of people to construct public buildings and roads, and operate arts and literacy projects. Almost every community in the United States had a public building, road or bridge created by the WPA.
The approximate total amount spent by the Federal government on WPA projects nationally from 1936 to 1943 was over $11 billion.
During the Great Depression the WPA provided some skills training and almost 8 million jobs to the unemployed. These jobs, however, were limited to one person per household. Approximately 15 percent of the households were headed by women. The average age of the workers was 40 years old.
The Livermore Bridge on US 431 was a WPA project and was opened November 13, 1940.
The Hartford Municipal Waterworks was constructed by the WPA in 1941 and the County Courthouse in Hartford was constructed by the WPA in 1936-37, as was the Hartford City Hall and Fire Station Annex.