The programs of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal were wide ranging. The broad legacy of these programs was to spur immediate employment while protecting workers, increasing Americans' long-term financial security, and improving the quality and geographical spread of America's infrastructure.
With respect to jobs and infrastructure, two famous programs were the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Rural Electrification Act (REA).
The WPA existed from 1935–43. It provided immediate employment for many unskilled workers. These workers helped create important infrastructure. Records show these workers built thousands of schools and bridges. They also built or improved hundreds of thousands of miles of roads.
The WPA was also famous for its special initiative for writers and artists, Federal Project Number One. Artists were commissioned to paint "American scenes" murals in public buildings like post offices (if your post office is old enough, chances are it had--or still has--a mural dating from this period). Actors, musicians, and writers were hired to create and perform entertaining, inspirational, and motivational pieces.
The REA, which was also authorized in 1935, helped spread electricity to America's rural areas. According to the Roosevelt Institute, only 10% of rural Americans had electricity in the 1930s (compared to 90% of urban dwellers). In less than five years, the REA helped increase that figure to 25%, and by the end of the World War II, approximately 90% of rural America was electrified.
With respect to financial security, many organizations, including the FDIC (authorized by Glass-Steagall) and the SEC, have their origins in the New Deal. However, the most enduring program of this type--indeed, the crowning legacy of the New Deal--is the Social Security Administration.
Social Security continues to provide important benefits to retirees, people who are unable to work, children, and selected relatives of retirees or people who are unable to work. It is difficult to summarize the impact Social Security has had in terms of ensuring some quality of life for millions of Americans. According to the Economic Policy Institute, it is "by far the most effective anti-poverty program in the United States."