Friday, October 31, 2014

Greenbelt, Maryland

We are now parked in College Park, Maryland- about 9 miles north from our son Dan and Amanda who live in the D.C. area.   John and I decided yesterday that, before doing any touring in the Washington area, we would first explore what is closer in to where we are parked.   We had heard about the Greenbelt Museum, but also realized that it would be closed as it had very limited visiting hours.   However, we had learned that there would be some exhibits on the history of Greenbelt in one of the town's public buildings.  We first drove to the public library, but,  before entering that building we walked over to the one next door to it and there found exhibits related to the town's history.  That building is pictured below, it is what use to be Greenbelt's elementary school, but now serves as the town's community center.
It is an art deco-styled building with stone friezes carved below the windows.  The artist, Lenore Thomas, chose the preamble to the constitution for those sculptures, with the thought that the school children needed to learn of the political foundations of our country.  The one below has the words "Establish Justice".
During the Great Depression many people were unemployed,  moving into our nation's cities looking for homes and work.   As part of President Roosevelt's New Deal the government built the town of Greenbelt, an experiment in town planning and cooperative living.  Here cinder block homes with flat roofs were erected in clusters, and for families needing larger homes there were frame houses with brick veneers. 
Thirteen thousand were employed for this project, it was one of the largest single programs of the New Deal.  It provided housing for 900 people, and in 1941 Greenbelt provided additional housing for 1,000 military personnel.  Of note is also that during the earlier years each family was given an electric range and refrigerator.  After learning about the history of Greenbelt, John and I took a self-guided tour along the pedestrian paths which surround the public buildings and original houses.  Greenbelt was planned with children in mind.  The town contained thirteen playgrounds originally located in the green space between the buildings.  Pedestrian underpasses were also built so that children would not have to risk crossing traffic.
Our walking tour also took us to the town's center which includes the original movie theater, Co-Op grocery store, cafe, and other small businesses.  The city also provides an aquatic and fitness center. 
Outside of the town is a large park and lake.  Construction on the Greenbelt Project began with this lake in 1935.  Originally this was a 23-acre heavily wooded valley cut by a stream.  Land was cleared here by hand and a 22- foot dam built to create the lake.  It is only about a mile and one-half trek around the lake, which John and I completed before leaving the town of Greenbelt.

No comments:

Post a Comment