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NPS Expansion: 1930s







New Deal



NPS 1933-39




Expansion of the National Park Service in the 1930s:
Administrative History

Chapter Five: New Initiatives in the Fields of History, Historic Preservation and Historical Park Development and Interpretation
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N. New Historical and Archeological Areas Added to National Park System: 1933-1941

Between the reorganization of 1933 and passage of the Historic Sites Act in 1935, four areas having historical or archeological interest became units of the National Park System. These areas were: Ocmulgee National Monument, Georgia, June 14, 1934; Thomas Jefferson Memorial, District of Columbia, June 26, 1934; Fort Jefferson National Monument, Florida, January 4, 1935; and Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York, August 21, 1935. [86]

The first historical area to come under federal administration through the provisions of the Historic Sites Act was the setting for one of the most problematical projects in historic preservation--the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri--inasmuch as unemployment relief and urban renewal were probably more significant facets of the project than were historical questions. In 1933 public officials and business and civic groups formed a Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association to support a project to renovate the waterfront area in the city by turning it into a park and establishing a national expansion memorial . The federal government became interested in the park proposal, and on June 15, 1934, President Roosevelt signed into law an act establishing the United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission to develop plans for a national memorial commemorating Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase, and westward national expansion. On April 10, 1935, the governor of Missouri signed an enabling act authorizing cities of 400,000 or more inhabitants to issue bonds in aid of federal historic projects, and on September 10 St. Louis voted a bond issue of $7,500,000 of which $2,250,000 was made available soon thereafter. By executive order on December 21, 1935, President Roosevelt designated that "certain lands situate on the west bank of the Mississippi River at or near the site of Old St. Louis, Missouri, possess value as commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States and are a historic site within the meaning of the said [Historic Sites] act." The Park Service was designated as the bureau to develop the memorial and $6,750,000 in Federal funds were allocated to the project to be used with the $2,250,000 from St. Louis for the acquisition, preservation, and development of the area. Work on clearing the area began on October 10, 1939, but the preservation and development work as well as the construction of the memorial itself was not completed until the 1960s. Despite the designation by President Roosevelt in 1935 the national historic site was not officially authorized until May 17, 1954. [87]

Salem Maritime National Historic Site, the second such area (established March 18, 1938) to come into the National Park System under the provisions of the Historic Sites Act was easier for the professional staff of the Park Service to deal with since it involved the acquisition, preservation, and interpretation of a major early American port that had gained significance during the colonial, revolutionary, and federal periods of American history. Other areas that entered the National Park System as national historic sites during the period 1935-41 were:

Hopewell Village National Historic Site, Pennsylvania (August 3, 1938)

Old Philadelphia Custom House National Historic Site, Pennsylvania (May 26, 1939)

Federal Hall Memorial National Historic Site, New York (May 26, 1939)

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, New York (December 18, 1940)

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, North Carolina (April 5, 1941)

Besides the aforementioned national historic sites a number of other areas having historical or archeological interest were added to the National Park System during the six-year period after passage of the Historic Sites Act. These included seven national monuments, two national battlefield parks, two national historical parks, and one national memorial. [88]

In addition the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal was placed under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service on September 23, 1938, as a result of the bankruptcy of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, but it was not officially declared a national monument and hence a unit of the system until January 18, 1961. [89]

Chapter Five continues with...
Historical and Archeological Research: 1935-1941


Last Modified: Tues, Mar 14 2000 07:08:48 am PDT

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