Urban Archaeology
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A New New Deal

Hawaii’s unemployment rate continues to climb. In June, it hit 8.1 percent—almost twice what it was two years ago.

It’s not the first time the Islands have seen hard times. When a similar joblessness rate hit Hawaii more than 50 years ago, territorial governor Samuel Wilder King created a program reminiscent of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration of the 1930s.

Like the WPA before it, the Hawaii Employment Program aimed to ease unemployment by putting welfare recipients to work doing needed public improvements. Jobs ranged from cutting new hiking trails up on Tantalus to scrubbing rust off the iron fences around Iolani Palace. These photos, taken between 1953 and 1954, show some of the work created by the program.

Makes you wonder whether there aren't some potholes around town today that could use filling.

Photos courtesy Hawaii State Archives.

Posted on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 in Permalink

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About This Blog

Senior Writer Michael Keany has worked at HONOLULU Magazine since 2004, covering everything from architecture to entertainment. He’s a graduate of UH’s School of Journalism and lives in McCully. He blogs about Hawaii architecture, history and urban planning.

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