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A New Deal for Carbon Hill, Alabama
A Photographic Document by William C. Pryor
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Alabama League of Municipalities
Sponsor of "City of Progress Contest"
City Commission of the City of Carbon Hill, Alabama

National Archives and Records Administration,
Records of the WPA, "Division of Information,
Photography Division," RG 69, E 703, Box 10.


The City of Carbon Hill, Alabama, through its City Commission, desires to present its claims for recognition on the question of solving civic and economic needs and problems in conjunction with the program of cooperation afforded by the Federal and State governments.

The following brief is presented:

Carbon Hill, Alabama, has literally "lifted itself by its boot straps" through the handling, and matching of Federal funds and grants.

For every dollar spent by the Federal government the City has participated 57.97 cents, which is considerably more than the government or State requirements. In other words, Carbon Hill has spent $1.00 of her own money for every $1.4203 spent by the Federal Government.

The expenditures of City Funds presents one of the reasons that the $287,752.16 has gone into permanent improvements, and assets that have enhanced the value of property in Carbon Hill to such a great extent.

In addition to the material benefits derived, it has greatly bolstered the morale, and the viewpoint of the citizens of Carbon Hill to the extent, that Carbon Hill's future as a municipality looks brighter to its citizenship than ever before in its history, both from a business and social angle.

Substantial and new industrial developments have already begun since these improvements were constructed, which calls for an outlay of cash substantially as much as expended for permanent public improvements, by the City and Federal Governments.

Carbon Hill probably had the edge on most communities from an improvement standpoint, due to the fact that it was on absolute economic bottom, as far as employment and resources were concerned.

In 1931 both banks were closed and the mining industry upon which the City was 75% dependent reached a standstill. Property values decreased 60%, and revenue to the City from taxes was reduced in proportion.

With a population of 2519 according to the last Federal census, over 400 people were on relief rolls, and dependent on government projects for a livelihood.

The City Commission made a thorough analysis of the needs of the City with a view not only to solving a very acute humanitarian problem and providing employment for the jobless, but also to securing the most lasting and substantial public benefit to the City for future years.

The following activities and accomplishments, and a summary of work involved in hereby set forth:

Under the C.W.A. Program our combined Grammar and High School Building was repaired; rooms reworked and painted and the roof repaired. The City Hall was repaired and a new City Garage erected. Streets and sidewalks were worked with hand labor. Total cost of project $20,373.03; Federal $17,788.78, Sponsors $2,584.25.

Under the A.R.A. Program very little in the way of permanent improvements was accomplished other than a continuation of street improvement at a cost of $26,103.88; Federal $24,343.88, Sponsors $1,760.00.

With the assistance of the P.W.A. we have constructed an up-to-date Sanitary Sewer System and Disposal Plant at a cost of $80,719.29 of which amount $22,219.29 is a grant and the balance of the loan in the amount of $58,500.00 is to be paid by assessing a fee of $1.15 for each connection to the system. Prior to the construction of this system sanitary conditions were in a deplorable condition. Very few indoor toilets were in the City and a number of these drained into ditches which caused a very offensive odor. The new system covers a large portion of the City and in addition there has been installed 120 pit-type toilets under the supervision of the Government and County Health Department, and our system now is equal if not superior to any City in the State of like size.

With the assistance of the P.W.A. we have built a new High School Building of brick on a ten acre tract of land at the cost of $51,197.00, of which amount $22,500.00 was a grant. This building was necessary to relieve the over-crowded condition which existed at the combined Grammar and High School building, which is situated on less than one half acre of land in the heart of the City. This building with only twenty rooms, housed over eight hundred pupils. The new building now accommodates five hundred high school pupils. The cost of this building will be paid from a special school tax which has been in effect for the past fifteen years. With the growing demand for a practical high school education for boys and girls it was decided to add the Smith-Hughes Vocational Agriculture and home economic to the course of study, and as there was no room for this in the newly constructed high school building and with the assistance of the W.P.A. the Vocational building, size 40 X 60 constructed with native blue stone is completed and ready for occupancy this school term. Cost of the building was $10,072.00: Federal funds $9,958.95, Sponsors contributed #113.05. (There is an error in the amount of the sponsors contribution as it was over $1000.00). We are also constructing a Home Economics Building same size and material which will be ready for occupancy within two months. This building will cost approximately the same as the Vocational and the Federal expenditures on same to date is $5,301.85 and it will require about $1500.00 Federal funds and $3,000.00 sponsor to complete and equip. When these units are completed no school in this part of the State will have better school facilities than Carbon Hill.

With the assistance of the W.P.A. we have erected a new Jail of native stone to replace the old one built over twenty years ago which was very unsanitary. The new Jail is modern in every respect with proper heating, lighting, and sanitary facilities. Total cost, $4,633.30; Federal $3,552.75, Sponsor, $1,080.55.

Carbon Hill has never had a recreational center, no place close in where children could swim, play ball and other games, but within a very short period of time and with very little additional expense we will have a recreational center superior to any known in this part of the State. The City purchased a seven acre tract of land and with the assistance of the W.P.A we have completed a swimming pool, size 70 x 135, build of native stone, the walls plastered, and the bottom of concrete, holding about 400,000 gallons of water, which is supplied through a 4" pipe line to an everlasting spring 4350 feet from the pool. A gravity flow of approximately 25,000 gallons, flows through this pipe every twenty-four hours, but when it is necessary to change water in the pool we have a pump which puts 250 gallons of water in the pool per minute. We have erected two bath houses with sanitary facilities, shower baths, and individual changing rooms. The entire seven acres is surrounded with a new fence ten feet high: the grounds have been filled and leveled; a large space sodded with grass for foot ball games this fall, and it is our intention to erect a large skating rink and bowling alley. Baseball, football, tennis, soft ball and other games can be played on this field. We have just issued warrants in the amount of $750.00 to install flood lights so night games can be played. These lights will be installed within the next two weeks. The total cost of this project to date is $17,838.44; Federal $14,629.02, Sponsor, $3,209.42.

In the past it has been very difficult to maintain our streets as we have numerous hills and hollows in town, and as we had only five blocks of paving, in making our plans for an application for street improvement we decided to ask for side walks, curb and gutter construction rather than street paving as we could benefit more people in this way than by a few paved streets, consequently, with the assistance of the W.P.A. we have constructed 41,347 lin. ft. curb and gutter; 12,325 lin. ft. side walk; built 30,106 cub. yds. rock wall, 13,825 cub. yds. excavated, and 10,650 cub. yds. back fill, in addition to leveling and beautifying the streets and side walks. These improvements will benefit 90% of our population. The total cost of this project was $71,513.37; Federal $61,855.29, Sponsor $9,658.08.

Taking into consideration our unemployed it was our desire to select projects most needed and projects that would enable as many of the unemployed as possible to work in their respective classification, and these projects have required the service of Superintendents, Timekeepers, Carpenters, Rock Masons, Plumbers, Electricians and Cement Finishers.

The City of Carbon Hill has not and will not assess any additional taxes to repay money spent on these projects and when the present Program is completed we feel there is no additional improvements absolutely necessary for several years to come.

We are listing below projects and amounts expended:

P.W.A. Sewer Project$22,219.29$58,500.00
W.P.A. Streets Projects61,855.299,658.08
P.W.A. High School22,500.0028,697.00
A.R.A. Projects24,343.881,760.00
C.W.A. Projects17,788.782,584.25
W.P.A. Recreational Project14,629.023,209.42
W.P.A. Vocational Project9,958.95113.05
W.P.A. Home Economics Project5,301.85 
W.P.A. Jail Project3,552.751,080.55

The maximum and minimum number of needy unemployed men and women from the relief rolls available for Works Program projects were approximately 450 maximum, and 200 minimum.

In addition to the accomplishments above outlined the City has cooperated in the establishment and maintenance of sewing projects for women, canning center and all other women's projects of like nature allocated to the City of Carbon Hill, for which it has taken care of rental, water, lighting and sanitary requirements.

There is attached hereto letter from Walker County Health Department giving its evaluation of the work and progress done in Carbon Hill.

Respectfully submitted,


introduction | slide show | documents
A New Deal for Carbon Hill, Alabama
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