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Real Simple: 1936

Real Simple: 1936

November 1936. "Interior of house. Greenbelt, Maryland." One of three planned "Green-" communities midwifed by the Resettlement Administration during the Great Depression. Luxe amenities included indoor plumbing and electricity. Medium-format nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein. View full size.


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Gotta love Ebenezer

Rexford Tugwell, the designer of Greenbelt Md, got his inspiration for Greenbelt, MD. from the esteemed Sir Ebenezer Howard. Howard was the first to plan Garden Cities, which Greenbelt, Md. is derived. It's too bad that future federal efforts at housing abandoned this idea and instead utilized ugly, almost Soviet Bloc styles of construction. Garden cities are wonderful. We need many more of them.

Re: Probably a spare

I remember the extra fuses sitting just inside the fuse box at home, while growing up. I also remember stories of friends and neighbors using the pennies in the place of a fuse; and a few of them actually survived the house fire to tell about it.

Zen kitchen

Or maybe it's kitchen by Ingmar Bergman. Either way, it's a bit austere, but certainly not without its charms.

About that fuse.

I would bet that the photographer's lights are taxing the limited power supply and they've already swapped out a 15 amp for a 20 or 30. Just a guess.

Old Fashioned Window Blinds

For those as old or older than me, remember tugging on them a little more than was necessary and it would go flap flap flap all the way to the top scaring the bejeesus out of you? There was a real skill in pulling them down or up to the desired position.

[Yeah, exept we called them shades, not blinds. - tterrace]


Greenbelt was constructed from 1934 to 1938. The first families moved in in October 1937.

This picture claims to have been taken in November 1936, 11 months before the community opened. It was likely staged and taken for the promotion of the community by the Resettlement Administration. The house may not have been completely finished yet, and that may explain the fuse issues.

Probably a spare

I'll bet the fuse on the floor is ready for replacing the next one that blows out. Our fuse box hung on the basement wall, so we put extra fuses on top of it, because they'd need replacing probably twice a week or so. It didn't take much to exceed capacity. I was probably seven when I was taught to replace them.

We had friends who used pennies instead of fuses, to save money. It's not an old urban legend, it really happened!


My Dad has lived in Greenbelt for 40 years. He says he will never move. He loves the small town feel, and the planning that went into the community. PG County is a rough area in general, but Greenbelt has the old town feel even today. Besides, He is right across the street from the police station.

Don't blow a Fuse!

I first noticed the cover off of the fuse box just to the left of the distant door, then... a fuse laying below on the floor? I wonder what that's all about? Every Shorpy photo has a back-story to tell, or a riddle to solve!

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