The Grand Coulee Dam was built between 1933 and 1942 on Washington's Columbia River for the purpose of providing hydroelectric power to the Columbia Basin, a potentially rich area of farmland that needed water to realize its potential. After much political wrangling, President Franklin Roosevelt authorized funding for the dam. The reservoir created by the dam is named Franklin Delano Roosevelt Lake in commemoration of his involvement with the project.
The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest concrete structure in the world as of 2014 and is one of the largest dams in the world at 550 feet high and 5,223 feet long. It is larger than the Egyptian pyramids and is made of 12 million cubic yards of concrete.
When the Grand Coulee Dam was built, it was part of Roosevelt's New Deal, part of which focused on creating public infrastructure projects that would provide a boost to the economy while ultimately paying for themselves. Thousands of people relocated to Washington to try to get work building the dam, and over 3,000 people were forced to move because their homes were flooded by the creation of the dam, including some Native American tribes. While the primary purpose of the dam was irrigation at the time it was built, it has since become one of the primary creators of hydroelectric power in the United States, with four power plants generating 21 billion kilowatts of electricity per year as of 2008.