May 2015 Meeting – The New Deal In Orange County – Speaker: Charles Epting

Huntington Beach Pavilion
Photo courtesy of the OC Archives

Charles Epting will discuss “WPA/PWA Architecture and Art in Orange County ” at the next meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, May 14, 2015, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

During the Great Depression, Southern California’s economic woes were compounded by local natural disasters. The 1933 Long Beach earthquake claimed 115 lives. The1938 Santa Ana River flood claimed more than 50 more and also washed out roads and buildings and caused enormous damage to the important citrus industry. And in 1939 our coast was ravaged by a chubasco (violent tropical storm).

Throughout this era, disaster relief and federal “make-work” programs helped transform the local landscape. Orange County’s 130,000 people received a greater density of federal public aid than Los Angeles County’s 2.2 million and San DiegoCounty’s 210,000. Join Charles Epting on this tour of the buildings, bridges, harbors, trails, libraries, highways and other infrastructure gains—many still in use—that were revitalized by the Works Progress Administration, Public Works Administraion, Civilian Conservation Corps and other agencies of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Charles Epting is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California, with a history degree specializing in the early 20th century United States. He is the author of four books as well as various newspaper and magazine articles. He is a research associate for U.C. Berkeley’s Living New Deal program and an American Philatelic Society fellow.

His second book, The New Deal In Orange County, was published in 2014 and focuses on the federal government’s aid to the county during the Great Depression. By chronicling every school and park, post office and government building, Epting shines a light on an important period in Orange County’s history while at the same time explaining the effects of President Roosevelt’s New Deal on both a local and national scale.