Discover Greenbelt's Utopian Community of Tomorrow - Atlas Obscura

Greenbelt, Maryland

Discover Greenbelt's Utopian Community of Tomorrow

An Art Deco dream to some, a hotbed of radical socialism to others, the original planned community of FDR's New Deal still stands today.

Engineered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration as an experimental antidote to the strife of pre-WWII urban living, the city of Greenbelt, Maryland, still stands as a living New Deal time capsule unlike any other.

Join Atlas Obscura for a unique trip through the history of the New Deal, through the lens of the planned community of Greenbelt, in partnership with the Greenbelt Museum. With ground broken in 1934, every aspect of the planned community—from its roads and civic institutions to the type of furniture to be used in its living rooms—was meticulously engineered to address housing shortages and provide relief to working class families. Such a bold proposal, however, drew criticism from some in Congress who feared that Greenbelt was a dangerous experiment with socialism. This was personified in the 1950s, when three community members were dismissed from government jobs following allegations of misconduct by the House Un-American Activities Committee. 

This event includes a walking tour of the community with museum historians, as well as a peek inside one of the carefully reconstructed residences from the 1930s. Though the government sold the town in 1952, it remains on the National Historic Registry and still maintains much of its cooperative atmosphere and traditions established at its start.  


  • The event will start promptly at 10 a.m. right outside the museum.
  • This event is somewhat accessible via public transportation. Metro's Green Line goes to Greenbelt Station, but the museum is about 2.5 miles from the station and requires a Lyft/Uber ride, as it crosses a highway. 
  • For those driving, there is abundant free parking in the lot behind the public library across the street from the museum house.
  • We will be walking about a mile on this tour, so please wear comfy shoes and dress for the weather. 


Contact Matt Blitz at

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