Breadlines, street corner apple vendors, and families traveling cross-country in jalopies looking for employment are phenomena unknown to most alive today. As those who lived through the Great Depression continue to fall by the wayside, memories of that severe economic crisis become ever more blurred. In addition to slowly erasing the pain and suffering brought about by the worldwide economic collapse of the 1930s, the passage of time also obscures the specifics of the overwhelming federal reaction to the Depression.
While many are familiar with President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal initiative, the bevy of "Alphabet Soup" programs implemented under FDR's leadership are less widely known. Programs such as the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the Farm Security Administration (FSA) are but a handful of the myriad federal agencies created during the Depression. One New Deal program of great importance to Arizona, and the Papago Park region, in particular, was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
What was the CCC? Simply put, it was a government employment effort designed to provide young, unmarried men a reliable paycheck in exchange for sometimes backbreaking physical labor such as clearing trails or erecting buildings in local, state, and federal parks. CCC efforts visible in Papago Park include several ramadas built in the "NPS Rustic" style - similar to many of the federally-constructed Depression-era projects in Phoenix's South Mountain Park. Although the Corps existed for just nine years, the legacy of this Keynesian undertaking remains in many parks, forests, and important pieces of infrastructure found across the nation to this day.