Online History Journal

Sat, Jan 16, 2016

A Gift to the City: The Post Office Murals of Henrietta Shore

By Joan Martin

This article is part of the MAH's Online History Journal, a collection of original research on local history. Dive deep into Santa Cruz County history in this ever-growing forum and start curating your own.


Santa Cruz is fortunate to be home to four murals by the internationally known and respected artist, Henrietta Shore. Free to the public, these murals can be seen six days a week at the main post office in downtown Santa Cruz. The next time you are standing in line to mail a package or to renew a passport, look up at the images high on the walls above you. The murals at either end of the long, airy lobby depict scenes of local industry: artichoke workers, Brussels sprouts pickers, limestone quarry workers, and fishermen.

Like the post office itself, these murals were paid for by the federal government; in effect, they were a gift to the city of Santa Cruz. The post office was built in 1912 with a grant from the Treasury Department. The murals were commissioned in 1935 by the Treasury Department’s Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP), which provided work to qualified artists in the dark days of the Great Depression.

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Keep reading to find out more about the life and trails of Henrietta Shore.
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