Ideal Towns of the 1930s

Most of you while doing family history research have been able to trace relatives back to the 1920s and 1930s. Those were two very different, unusual and somewhat difficult decades, back to back. With the stock market crash of October 1929, the good times, jobs, money, products, entertainment, etc. of the 1920s all came to an end.

To help people and their families in the 1930s, the US government through the New Deal offered assistance with food, jobs and programs to teach people how to do more with less money and resources.

Since housing was of a big importance, the new ideas were developed, including an attempt to start special utopia villages, which was done in 3 states. Under the Resettlement Administration, there were to be built many Utopian towns across the United States. These new settlements would blend farm and city life together for affordable housing projects.

Greenhills, Ohio

The new towns would have parks, playgrounds, and other family aspects all run by the citizens of the town themselves. The selection of who came to live in these new towns were those with moderate-income families, ranging in the 1930s of between $1,200 and $2,700 a year.

The homes built were duplexes, ranch-style homes and spacious apartment homes. Some were 1-2 stories tall without creating large inner-city tall style apartment buildings.

Greendale, Wisconsin

These new towns built by the late 1930s were referred to as ‘greenbelt towns’ and the first three were named for the forests and farms surrounding them. They were: Greenhills, Ohio; Greendale, Wisconsin and Greenbelt, Maryland. These locations did have families move there and do very well. The major fault with the selection of residents was that each family had to be white. Even when a suggested black village be placed next to the Greenbelt in Maryland there was too much controversy of a black village next to the white one in Maryland. So the idea was dropped.

Then with America involved in World War 2 of the early 1940s, there were no more utopia towns in production. After 1945, with people having more money, there were more jobs and veterans returning home, the attitude of Americans was for now found in the developing new suburbs with single family homes. Plus the cost by the government for these utopia villages became expensive, the reason for only three built.

Greendale, Wisconsin in 1939

Over the decades, these village residences and parks don’t exist as they once did, but rather some of the buildings are used today for other purposes. New roads were built through several of them and new buildings constructed but also many of those original residences still exist, owned by individuals but not in a Utopian village.

Same street, in Greendale, Wis. today

There have many different types of Utopian communities over the decades, but this concept was developed by the Federal government to help its citizens in the 1930s. Maybe some of your family members lived there.

Today: Greendale, Wisconsin is 5 sq. miles in size with a population of 14,000; Greenhills in Ohio is 1.24 sq miles and population of 3,600 and Greenbelt, MD is 6.24 sq miles and population of 23,000.

Related Blogs:

Ideas to Stimulate your Life Story

Ancestral Homes

New Deal and Your Ancestors

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