Referendum on Planning: Imaging River Conservation in the 1938 Tva Hearings
Historians have long noted the revolution brought by the New Deal to the realms of politics, social planning, and even the administration of natural resources. More complicated, however, is deducing the degree to which these ideas can be attributed to the president responsible for implementing and administering them. A close examination of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and of 1930s river development in general, reveals that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (FDR’s) thinking did influence this new effort to rationalize and manage natural resources. In fact, the TVA possibly reflects FDR’s early environmental thinking better than any other New Deal agency. This is not to say that the TVA, like many other New Deal agencies, did not change with time. During World War II, for example, the need for power generation usurped many of the founding priorities of the river development agency. Today, the TVA is recognized as one of the greatest environmental exploiters in the nation—which, of course, is a legacy we likely do not wish to claim for FDR. But if we focus our view more on the TVA’s early years, specifically between 1933 and 1938, we find that it connects more directly to a legacy of environmental design and policy making—a legacy that is clearly tied to the early environmental thinking of FDR.
KeywordsFlood Control Regional Planning Landscape Architecture Tennessee Valley Authority Congressional Hearing
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- 11.Phoebe Cutler, The Landscape of the New Deal (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985): 135.Google Scholar