National Park Posters – WPA Poster Overview
National Park Posters have been a long-standing tradition of the National Parks. If you are like us, you’ve been in countless Visitor Centers in the National Parks (and even State Parks) and awed at the selection of posters available. We’ve loved the style of the posters for years, and even purchased a few to adorn our walls to provide great memories of the trips, or looked at them online to inspire us for future travel to the National Parks and public lands.
Original Yellowstone WPA National Park Poster
But where did they come from originally? How long have they been in existence, and what is the current state of these posters today? The answers may surprise you. Hopefully this information that we’ve assembled will be helpful in learning more about these iconic National Park Posters!
WHEN WERE THE ORIGINAL WPA POSTERS CREATED?
While National Park Posters are one of the most thought of applications of the WPA posters, there were actually over 35,000 designs created between the years of 1938 and 1943. The posters created were to raise awareness for public lands, but also a variety of other areas, such as public health.
WHO CREATED THE ORIGINAL WPA NATIONAL PARK POSTERS?
The WPA (Works Progress Administration) was established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and managed by Harry Hopkins. The goal was to put people to work to help speed up economic recovery from the Great Depression by putting able-bodied citizens to work. Eventually, over 3.3 million were employed by the WPA. The WPA chartered infrastructure projects all over the country, including the creation of roads, critical infrastructure in and around cities (like sidewalks and hospitals) and recreational facilities. They also spread out the funding to include art, music, theater and publishing. It was through this funding that they original WPA National Park Posters were created.
Original Sequoia WPA National Park Poster
WHY WERE THE ORIGINAL WPA NATIONAL PARK POSTERS CREATED?
The original National Park Posters were created to help promote seeing the public lands in America and also to raise awareness of the great places to see in the United States. While less than 20 (14 to be exact) were created and they were a very small part of the original designs created by the WPA, they remain as one of the most recognized pieces of art from the WPA.
WPA POSTERS TODAY
Today, there have been many implementations of the original WPA Style National Park Poster design. The original designs were limited in the number of colors offered due to the screen-printing technique that was used. In fact, many of them had fewer than 8 colors total. Today, with the advancements made in printing technology, WPA Posters can be created that mimic the style of the original posters but combine the vibrant colors that we are more familiar with and see when visiting the parks.
WPA-STYLE NATIONAL PARK POSTERS
Many more National Parks (and National Park Service managed sites) have been established since the original WPA posters were created. In fact, there are now 63 National Parks and 425 (and counting!) National Park Sites that are across the United States.
You can check out this page for one of the most complete collections of National Park Posters to choose from! Also included in the collection are some of the many National Park Monuments and Historic Sites that you may have visited in your travels.
WPA-STYLE STATE PARK POSTERS
While the original WPA-Style Posters were created only to highlight the National Parks, they style has also been adapted for other locations around the United States, including this collection of State Park Posters. While not ever state park is covered in this collection, it is worth checking out and continuously growing!
CREATE YOUR OWN NATIONAL PARK POSTER OR WPA STYLE TRAVEL POSTER
If you are like many of us, when you travel around you likely take dozens, hundreds or even thousands of photos while you are out. Most of these photos end up staying on your phone, only to be looked at rarely after your trip.
A terrific way of remembering your trips forever is to work with us to create your own WPA-style National Park Poster! It can be a photo from anywhere in the world (it doesn’t have to be a National Park site-it can be from anywhere!). We’ll customize the wording for you, the filtering method and we can even use photos that include people!
ADDITIONAL CUSTOM TRAVEL POSTERS
In addition to creating WPA Style Posters, you can also pick from one of our other styles of posters. You can learn about our custom travel posters here.
OTHER RELATED INFORMATION FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
If you are interested in travel to our public lands in the United States, then check out our extensive blog. We have over 200 articles on National Park Travel, State Park Travel and hiking around the United States.