Celebrating 67 Years of American Service

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Part two of a three-part look at GSA’s history

Last week, we shared our first blog of this three part series, highlighting some unique facts about the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). Today we are proud to release our next edition of this series, by revealing 20 more interesting and unique facts about our agency. Since its inception on July 1, 1949, GSA has evolved in ways that President Harry S. Truman probably never imagined, becoming a driver within the federal government of technology, sustainability, efficiency, cost savings and economic development for communities and cities across this great nation.

Without further ado, here are some more interesting and unique facts about GSA:

  • All the scenes depicting the interior of San Francisco’s City Hall in the Oscar-winning film “Milk” were actually shot inside the nearby Federal Building at 50 United Nations Plaza, which now houses the Pacific Rim Regional Office.
  • GSA’s John W. McCormack Post Office and Courthouse in Boston has a self-sustaining green roof, which is the first of its kind in New England. Utilizing solar panels, the irrigation pumps and cisterns on the roof collect rainwater for the plants.
  • In order to preserve Gay Head Lighthouse, the New England Region assisted in moving the 160-year-old, 400-ton structure away from the eroding bluff on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Beginning in April 2015, the lighthouse was raised six feet off the ground and pushed down soap-lathered steel rails by two hydraulic pistons to its new location, 135 feet inland.
  • The U.S. Custom House in New Bedford, Mass., is the oldest continuously operating Custom House in the country. Completed in 1836, the building was set 50 feet above the tide level, giving it an uninterrupted view of the harbor. This city landmark was designated a National Historic Landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 because of its ties to Massachusetts’ maritime heritage, its formative role in the federal building program and its impressive example of Greek revival style.
  • The Denver Federal Center (DFC) is home to the second largest concentration of federal workers outside of Washington, D.C. It’s a 623-acre campus is targeted to be one of the most sustainable facilities by the year 2020. It boasts an eight megawatt DC photovoltaic system that combined produces enough to power 1,064 residential homes for ayear. The federal government purchased the DFC in 1941 and its rich history is captured in a small on-campus museum that holds more than 360 artifacts. Watch a short video about the DFC here.
  • The Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse is an historic gem that received $15 million dollars in American Recovery & Reinvestment Act funds. It is targeting to be the first site net-zero building in the country listed on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning that the building will produce as much energy on-site as it consumes over the course of one year.
  • In June 2013, GSA launched the DFC B-Cycle bike sharing system bringing a new, healthy, eco-friendly alternative to motorized transportation for short trips around the 623-acre campus. There are more than 950 users of the 6,200 campus tenants who now have access to 50 bikes docked at six stations.
  • Did you know that we preserve history? Some people refer to “moving mountains” when they accomplish something difficult. GSA moved a 100+ year old building to make way for a new federal building in Salt Lake City.
  • The Rocky Mountain Region has a robust art program with approximately 35 works of art throughout the region. For the first time in the region, GSA is working with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center to borrow 13 works of art that are on display in three federal buildings in downtown Denver. The loan of these works is an important step in recognizing museums like Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and providing vibrancy to public spaces.
  • On October 1, 2015, GSA launched the new single Professional Services Schedule (PSS) giving federal agency acquisition professionals the ability to obtain total contract solutions for their professional services requirements using one contract vehicle. Reducing eight single Schedules contracts to one, the new PSS contract provides access to the same professional services that GSA has always offered. It will eliminate more than 700 contracts resulting in an estimated five year savings of $3.95 million, and sustained savings of $1.29 million annually thereafter.
  • The Pioneer Courthouse is a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon. Built in 1869, the structure is the oldest federal building in the Pacific Northwest, and the second oldest west of the Mississippi River.
  • The Northwest/Arctic Region leases space for the Transportation Security Administration in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point in the Northern Hemisphere. When the sun rises in Barrow on May 10, it does not set again until August 2, providing 84 days of continuous sunlight. Conversely, when the sun sets in Barrow on November 18, there are 67 days of darkness before the sun rises again on January 24.
  • The westernmost GSA lease is in Unalaska, Alaska (also known as Dutch Harbor). Unalaska lies about 800 miles southwest of Anchorage, which is only about midway out on the Aleutian chain, and extends a total of 1,200 miles westward from the mainland Alaska Peninsula. The region has several leases for various branches of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Unalaska since it’s the largest fisheries port in the U.S. and is often featured in “The Deadliest Catch” on the Discovery Channel.
  • Through GSA Auctions, the agency sold a plane that once served as Air Force 1, the designation for a plane that transports the President.

Check back on the GSA Blog next week when we complete the three-part GSA turns 67 anniversary series.

Last Reviewed: 2020-07-31