Greenbelt, Maryland is a planned community built in 1937 as a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. One of three Green Towns built during the Great Depression, the project put struggling Americans to work, provided much needed low-income housing in the Washington, D.C. region and was a bold experiment in town planning and cooperative living. Its first residents enjoyed modern homes, schools, a pool, a library and a town center complete with cooperative businesses and a movie theater all within walking distance in a utopian park-like setting. Although the community had been built by a work force made up of both African Americans and whites, because of segregation, only white families were able to apply for residency.
Despite nearly doubling in size to accommodate WWII era housing, and steady growth through the second half of the 20th century, Greenbelt’s original streamlined architecture, ample green space, and innovative design have been preserved and recognized as a National Historic Landmark. It is now also a very diverse community welcoming people of all backgrounds. After nearly 80 years, the City continues to thrive even as it looks towards sustainability and the future. To read more, visit our Greenbelt History page.
For more detailed information about the city's history organized by decade, visit our exhibition, Greenbelt: The First 75 Years, 1937-2012
Looking for information about who lived in the area before Greenbelt was built? Check out this film about Greenbelt's cemeteries.
Greenbelt Museum Archives