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History

The Doyle Drive Historic Corridor

New Deal Public Works, the San Francisco Approaches to the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Northern Presidio<< back

WPA crews at work on Richardson Boulevard connecting Doyle Drive with Lombard Street/Highway 101, 1937.

WPA crews at work on Richardson Boulevard connecting Doyle Drive with Lombard Street/Highway 101, 1937. William Mooser, Jr., Report on Progress of the Works Program in San Francisco, January 1938

New Deal Photo

WPA stonemasons building pedestrian connections in the Presidio, 1938. Clyde E. Healy, San Francisco Improved: Report of Clyde E. Healy, Assistant Chief Engineer, City of San Francisco and Coordinator of WPA Projects; period October 10, 1935 to August 31, 1939, 1939

New Deal Historic Photo

The WPA-funded Commissary building constructed in 1939 and recently the home of the Crissy Field Center, ca. 1940. Courtesy Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Park Archives (GOGA 32421)

Historic New Deal Photo

Richardson Drive and the original GGB&HD light standards, 1937. William Mooser, Jr., Report on Progress of the Works Program in San Francisco, January 1938

DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION OF THE 1930s, several public works programs played an important role in shaping the Presidio. These programs were part of the “New Deal,” the popular name for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s wide ranging efforts to promote economic recovery. Two New Deal programs, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Public Works Administration (PWA), funded construction of the Golden Gate Bridge approach roads through the Presidio: Doyle Drive/Highway 101 and Veterans Boulevard/Highway 1.

UNDER FEDERAL GRANTS AWARDED TO THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE & HIGHWAY DISTRICT (GGB&HD), WPA laborers performed extensive demolition, excavation and fill work in addition to building drainages, retaining walls, and pedestrian passageways along Doyle Drive and at the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza area. The War Department’s right-of-way grant for Doyle Drive stipulated that the GGB&HD compensate the Army for any military facilities demolished for Doyle Drive. As part of the replacement program, WPA workers built new sewers and secondary roads, realigned and widened major roads such as Lincoln Boulevard, and constructed a number of buildings. Under grants to the U.S. Army, WPA workers remodeled existing buildings such as the Officers’ Club (Building 50), and constructed new buildings in the Spanish Revival style such as the Commissary (Building 603). With the City and County of San Francisco’s sponsorship, WPA crews built most of Richardson Boulevard and its elevated reinforced-concrete ramps connecting Doyle Drive with Lombard Street.

THE PARK PRESIDIO/HIGHWAY 1 APPROACH to the Golden Gate Bridge received an $800,000 grant from the PWA. This enabled the California Department of Public Works to build the tunnel, viaducts, and graded ramp sections that carry traffic from Park Presidio Boulevard to the Golden Gate Bridge. This road was completed in 1940, three years after the completion of the bridge.

NEW DEAL POLICYMAKERS embraced the economic theories of British economist John Maynard Keynes. Keynes held that temporary deficit spending on public works by national governments could help revive depressed economies by reducing unemployment and increasing consumer spending. Today, Keynesian economics informs the National Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which helps fund the Doyle Drive Replacement Project.

WPA crews constructed the majority of Richardson Boulevard and its elevated ramps connecting Doyle Drive to Lombard Street.

 

 
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