Learn About The History Of Greenbelt MD


Greenbelt was founded in the New Deal era of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937. Located in Prince George's County, Maryland, the town was sculpted after European "garden cities." It was one of the three towns planned under the United States Resettlement Administration (the other two are Greenhill, Ohio and Greendale, Wisconsin). The town was designed to provide employment as well as affordable housing for low-income workers. It was also aimed to offer a model for future planning of the towns in America. Over time, the town has developed into three distinctive socio-economically and culturally diverse regions- the West Greenbelt, East Greenbelt, and Old Greenbelt.

The town plan

The town's architectural plan was innovative, but the planners also baked a bit of social engineering into the pie with the aim of promoting community harmony and safety. Rather than detached single-family homes, residents shared walls and thus had more opportunities to interact. Moreover, the houses faced shared yards instead of the streets, and the subways allowed people to bike around without mingling with road and automobile traffics.

The first generations

The first generation of Greenbelt residents is referred affectionately to as the pioneers. That's because, they didn't simply move into the new place, they helped create it too. They built civic infrastructure that was tangible and real. This included the committees, co-ops and charitable groups, political clubs, and the arts associations that have helped mold and socialize the Greenbelt society and culture.

Greenbelt Residency

Most of the Greenbelt's original residents were government workers in Washington, D. C. They enjoyed schools, a library, a pool, and a town center with a movie theater and cooperative businesses all within the utopian park-like scenery. However, only white families were allowed to apply for residency since to move in, you had to be interviewed and screened based on race, occupation, and income. African-Americans were excluded from residency up until the formation of the Greenbelt Committee for Fair Housing in 1963. As of the 2000 census, African-American constituted 41% of the population. But, the census also shows that the African-Americans live in certain isolated parts of the town and their percentage within the Old Greenbelt if usually 0% to 5%.

The Greenbelt Historic district

Also known as the Old Greenbelt, Greenbelt Historic District was in 1997 designated as a national historic landmark. The district contains historic milestones, including Roosevelt Center and several buildings in the Art Deco Style. Moreover, while the place has been added new ventures, it still boasts numerous original businesses such as the Greenbelt Co-Op supermarket and pharmacy and the Old Greenbelt Theater.

The contemporary city

Today, much of the original landscape within this federal government town still exists. In addition to that, it has expanded to integrate high-rise office buildings, shopping centers, town houses, garden apartments, and private development. Also, with the construction of Kenilworth Avenue, Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and Capital Beltway that meet in Greenbelt, the region has become a hub of major commercial and residential development within the county of Prince George's.

To recap

After nearly eight decades, Greenbelt, MD continues to thrive as it anticipates for sustainability and a brighter future. The town with all its rich history and heritage is now a diverse community that welcomes people of all backgrounds. The blend of the past and the present within this city makes it an intriguing destination.