‘New Deal Utopias’ – A walk through utopian America

The 1929 crisis hit the USA hard. Unprecedented rates of unemployment and misery took over the land of opportunity.

To alleviate this, president Roosevelt approved the New Deal, which presented a number of State-funded construction projects to boost employment.

The Greenbelt Towns were among these new projects. Three towns (Greenbelt, Greenhills and Greendale) that would be built to “restore prosperity and self-respect to Americans affected by the Great Depression”.

However, these were not just cheap housing for low-income families. The cities, as planned by Rexford Tugwell, were meant to promote “a more cooperative and egalitarian society”.

[Read more books about cities and urban planning in ‘The city’ zine – free download for subscribers]

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And they weren’t ordinary cities either. They were based on the garden cities first envisioned by Ebenezer Howard in his book ‘To-Morrow: A peaceful Path to reform”.

In his vision for a new type of cities, citizens would live their lives close to nature, and in tight-knit communities where society would be organised cooperatively.

75 years after they were built, photographer Jason Reblando has documented daily life in these towns.

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‘New Deal Utopias’ feels like a walk around these communities. A solitary walk were one notices small details: the sports courts, the intersecting paths through the woods, the lakes and rivers and the murals in public buildings, which. speak of a different type of town

Along the walk, we meet people in forests, and walk into their homes and talk to them, trying to find connection in what once were the great promise for utopia in the cities of America.

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