Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education

The Modern-Day Reality of New Deal Utopias

This slideshow from <em>Design Observer</em> takes a look at New Deal-era utopian cities as they exist today.
November 25, 2010, 1pm PST | Nate Berg
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

Photographer Jason Reblando uses these cities to show how the ideals of utopian planning have fared over the years, and how these places are experienced by their inhabitants today.

"Observing the overcrowding and foul air of late 19th-century London slums, Howard proposed the Garden City concept, which would combine the social and economic opportunities of the city and the natural beauty of the country. The Greenbelt Town Program set out to be the most fully realized manifestation of Garden City principles in America.

In these photographs, my goal is not only to evoke the communal spirit for which the greenbelt architecture was designed but also to meditate on the urge to create a better society. I learned that many residents remain proud of the New Deal legacy; today the greenbelt towns enjoy common green spaces, and housing layouts encourage neighborly interaction. Yet I want my images to acknowledge somehow that utopia is a problematic goal. It is unsettling to realize that African-Americans helped to build Greenbelt, Maryland, but were not allowed to live in it; they were confined to a separate development, Langston Terrace. We might ask: Who defines utopia? Who has the opportunity to experience it? "

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, November 23, 2010 in Design Observer
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email