Vintage National Park Posters to “Cure” the Great Depression of the 1930’s
Today, the United States is home to 59 national parks, designated protected areas for the enjoyment of the general public or the preservation of wildlife. The first national park, Yellowstone, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, followed by Mackinac National Park in 1875 (decommissioned in 1895), and then Rock Creek Park (later merged into National Capital Parks), Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890.
Although Yellowstone was not officially termed a “national park” in its establishing law, it was always termed such in practice and is widely held to be the first and oldest national park in the world. The first area to use “national park” in its creation legislation was the US’s Mackinac Island, in 1875.
The Organic Act of 1916 created the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
During the Great Depression, in the mid-1930’s, the Works Progress Administration and its Federal Arts Project was tasked with designing a series of National Park posters to promote the landscapes and wildlife of America’s parks. Here is just a handful from the collection stored at the Library of Congress to celebrate 100 years since the National Park Service (NPS) was founded.