Greenbelt, Maryland

Greenbelt, Maryland

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Greenbelt is a city in Prince George's County, Maryland
Prince George's County, Maryland
Prince George's County is a county located in the U.S. state of Maryland, immediately north, east, and south of Washington, DC. As of 2010, it has a population of 863,420 and is the wealthiest African-American majority county in the nation....

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Contained within today's City of Greenbelt is the historic planned community now known locally as "Old Greenbelt" and designated as the Greenbelt Historic District. Greenbelt's population was 23,068 at the 2010 census.


Greenbelt is located at 39°0′2"N 76°53′18"W (39.000460, -76.888325).
According to the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, the city has a total area of 6 square miles (15.5 km²), of which 0.04 square mile (0.1035995244 km²), or 0.50%, is water.
Greenbelt's ZIP codes are 20768, 20770, and 20771.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center
Goddard Space Flight Center
The Goddard Space Flight Center is a major NASA space research laboratory established on May 1, 1959 as NASA's first space flight center. GSFC employs approximately 10,000 civil servants and contractors, and is located approximately northeast of Washington, D.C. in Greenbelt, Maryland, USA. GSFC,...

 is located in Greenbelt, as is Greenbelt Park
Greenbelt Park
Greenbelt Park, located in Greenbelt, Maryland, is managed by the United States National Park Service. The forested park lies approximately 10 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., and is situated just within the Capital Beltway . The park land was originally intended to form part of the green...

, a unit of the National Park System
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

. The Greenbelt Arts Center
Greenbelt Arts Center
The Greenbelt Arts Center is a theater located in the Roosevelt Center within the Greenbelt Historic District of Greenbelt, Maryland. It is normally configured as a three-quarter thrust, and seats approximately 90 people. The theater shows regular plays and musicals, and hosts special events...

 is located in Old Greenbelt.


Two major highways pass through and have interchanges in Greenbelt: the Capital Beltway (I-95/I-495)
Interstate 495 (Capital Beltway)
Interstate 495 is a Interstate Highway that surrounds the United States' capital of Washington, D.C., and its inner suburbs in adjacent Maryland and Virginia. I-495 is widely known as the Capital Beltway or simply the Beltway, especially when the context of Washington, D.C., is clear...

 and the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

's Baltimore-Washington Parkway
Baltimore-Washington Parkway
The Baltimore–Washington Parkway is a highway in the U.S. state of Maryland, running southwest from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. The road begins at an interchange with U.S. Route 50 and Maryland Route 201 near Cheverly in Prince George's County at the D.C...

. Greenbelt Road is a portion of State Highway 193, which connects several suburban towns.

Washington Metro
Washington Metro
The Washington Metro, commonly called Metro, and unofficially Metrorail, is the rapid transit system in Washington, D.C., United States, and its surrounding suburbs. It is administered by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority , which also operates Metrobus service under the Metro name...

 rapid transit rail service
Rapid transit
A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated railway, metro or metropolitan railway system is an electric passenger railway in an urban area with a high capacity and frequency, and grade separation from other traffic. Rapid transit systems are typically located either in underground tunnels or on...

 from Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, serves Greenbelt Metro Station
Greenbelt (Washington Metro)
Greenbelt is a Washington Metro and MARC station in Prince George's County, Maryland on the Green Line. It is the northeastern end of the Green Line....

, the northern terminus of the system's Green Line
Green Line (Washington Metro)
The Green Line is one of five heavy rail subway lines that constitute the Washington Metro rapid transit system in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The Green Line consists of 21 stations, with termini at Branch Avenue and at Greenbelt. The Green Line runs through Prince George's County,...

. Commuter rail service to the same station is provided by MARC
MARC Train
MARC , known prior to 1984 as Maryland Rail Commuter Service, is a regional rail system comprising three lines in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. MARC is administered by the Maryland Transit Administration , a Maryland Department of Transportation agency, and is operated under contract...

's Camden Line between Washington's Union Station
Union Station (Washington, D.C.)
Washington Union Station is a train station and leisure destination visited by 32 million people each year in the center of Washington, D.C. The train station is served by Amtrak, MARC and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail services as well as by Washington Metro subway trains and local buses...

 and the Camden Station
Camden Station
Camden Station, now also referred to as Camden Yards, is a train station at the intersection of Howard and Camden Streets in Baltimore, Maryland, served by MARC commuter rail service and local Light Rail trains. It is adjacent to Oriole Park at Camden Yards...

 in Baltimore, Maryland, using the original 1835 Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O)
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was one of the oldest railroads in the United States and the first common carrier railroad. It came into being mostly because the city of Baltimore wanted to compete with the newly constructed Erie Canal and another canal being proposed by Pennsylvania, which...

 track route between Washington and Baltimore, now part of the CSX System
CSX Transportation
CSX Transportation operates a Class I railroad in the United States known as the CSX Railroad. It is the main subsidiary of the CSX Corporation. The company is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, and owns approximately 21,000 route miles...


Bordering areas

  • Beltsville Agricultural Research Center
  • Berwyn Heights
    Berwyn Heights, Maryland
    Berwyn Heights is a town in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. The population was 2,942 at the 2000 census. It is bordered by College Park to the west, Greenbelt to the northeast, East Riverdale to the southwest, and Riverdale Park to the south....

  • College Park
    College Park, Maryland
    College Park is a city in Prince George's County, Maryland, USA. The population was 30,413 at the 2010 census. It is best known as the home of the University of Maryland, College Park, and since 1994 the city has also been home to the "Archives II" facility of the U.S...

  • Goddard
    Goddard, Maryland
    Goddard is an unincorporated area and census-designated place in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. The population was 5,554 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Goddard is located at ....

  • Lanham
    Lanham, Maryland
    Lanham is an unincorporated community in Prince George's County in the State of Maryland in the United States of America. Because it is not formally incorporated, it has no official boundaries, but the United States Census Bureau has defined a census-designated place consisting of Lanham and the...

  • New Carrollton
    New Carrollton, Maryland
    New Carrollton is a city located in central Prince George's County, Maryland, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, population was 12,589.New Carrollton is 12.11 miles from central Washington, DC....


Old Greenbelt was settled in 1937 as a public cooperative
A cooperative is a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit...

 community in the New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 Era. The concept was at the same time both eminently practical and idealistically utopian: the federal government would foster an "ideal" self-sufficient cooperative community that would also ease the pressing housing shortage near the nation's capital. Construction of the new town would also create jobs and thus help stimulate the national economic recovery following the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...


Greenbelt, which provided affordable housing for federal government workers, was one of three "green" towns planned in 1935 by Rexford Guy Tugwell, head of the United States Resettlement Administration
Resettlement Administration
The Resettlement Administration was a U.S. federal agency that, between April 1935 and December 1936, relocated struggling urban and rural families to communities planned by the federal government....

, under authority of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act. The two other green towns are Greendale, Wisconsin
Greendale, Wisconsin
Greendale is a village in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 14,405 at the 2000 census.-History:Greendale was settled in 1938 as a public cooperative community in the New Deal Era...

 (near Milwaukee) and Greenhills, Ohio
Greenhills, Ohio
Greenhills is a village in Hamilton County, Ohio, United States. The population was 4,103 at the 2000 census. It is a planned community that was established by the United States federal government during the Great Depression.-Geography:...

 (near Cincinnati). A fourth green town, Roosevelt, New Jersey
Roosevelt, New Jersey
Roosevelt was originally called Jersey Homesteads, and was created during the Great Depression as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal. The town was home to a cooperative farming and manufacturing project...

 (originally called Homestead), was planned but was not fully developed on the same large scale as Greenbelt.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

, helped Tugwell lay out the Maryland town on a site that had formerly consisted largely of tobacco fields. She was also heavily involved in the first cooperative community designed by the federal government in the New Deal Era, Arthurdale, West Virginia
Arthurdale, West Virginia
Arthurdale is an unincorporated community in Preston County, West Virginia, United States. Arthurdale was named for Richard Arthur, former owner of the land on which it was built, who had sold the land to the federal government under a tax default....

, which sought to improve the lives of impoverished laborers by enabling them to create a self-sufficient, and relatively prosperous, cooperative community. Cooperatives in Greenbelt include the Greenbelt News Review
Greenbelt News Review
The Greenbelt News Review was established in 1937 as a volunteer cooperative shortly after settlement of Greenbelt, Maryland, and was originally called The Cooperator...

, Greenbelt Consumers Coop grocery store, the New Deal Cafe
New Deal Cafe
The New Deal Cafe is a restaurant and community coffee house in the historic Roosevelt Center of Greenbelt, Maryland. It is a rare example of a restaurant operated as a consumers' cooperative, as it is owned by over 200 member patrons....

, and the cooperative forming the downtown core of original housing, Greenbelt Homes Incorporated
Greenbelt Homes, Inc.
Greenbelt Homes, Incorporated is the housing cooperative in Greenbelt, Maryland comprising the original houses built by the US Federal Government in 1936 during the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of the New Deal, as well as additional defense housing built in 1941 by the Farm...


The architectural planning of Greenbelt was innovative, but no less so than the social engineering
Social engineering (political science)
Social engineering is a discipline in political science that refers to efforts to influence popular attitudes and social behaviors on a large scale, whether by governments or private groups. In the political arena, the counterpart of social engineering is political engineering.For various reasons,...

 involved in this federal government project. Applicants for residency were interviewed and screened based on income and occupation, and willingness to become involved in community activities. African-Americans were initially excluded, but were welcomed by the Greenbelt Committee for Fair Housing
Fair housing
In the United States, the fair housing policies date largely from the 1960s. Originally, the terms fair housing and open housing came from a political movement of the time to outlaw discrimination in the rental or purchase of homes and a broad range of other housing-related transactions, such as...

 founded in 1963, and came to number 41% of residents according to the 2000 census.

Much of the community is now located within the Greenbelt Historic District; listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

 in 1980.

Greenbelt was the subject of the 1939 documentary film The City.


As of 2010 Greenbelt had a population of 23,068. The racial and ethnic compositon of the population was 25.9% non-Hispanic white, 47.0% non-Hispanic black, 0.3% Native American, 2.6% Asian Indian, 7.1% other Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.3% non-Hispanic of some other race, 3.3% from two or more races and 14.3% Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

of 2000, there were 21,456 people, 9,368 households, and 4,965 families residing in the city. The population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 was 3,586.6 people per square mile (1,385.3/km²). There were 10,180 housing units at an average density of 1,701.7 per square mile (657.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 39.74% White, 41.35% African American, 0.23% Native American, 12.05% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 3.11% from other races
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, and 3.47% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.45% of the population.

There were 9,368 households out of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.1% were married couples
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 living together, 15.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.0% were non-families. 35.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 12.5% from 18 to 24, 39.1% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 6.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $46,328, and the median income for a family was $55,671. Males had a median income of $39,133 versus $35,885 for females. The per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 for the city was $25,236. About 6.0% of families and 10.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.7% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.


The City of Greenbelt operates under a council-manager government
Council-manager government
The council–manager government form is one of two predominant forms of municipal government in the United States; the other common form of local government is the mayor-council government form, which characteristically occurs in large cities...

 as established by the city charter, the first such arrangement in Maryland. The Council consists of seven members elected by plurality-at-large voting
Plurality-at-large voting
Plurality-at-large voting is a non-proportional voting system for electing several representatives from a single multimember electoral district using a series of check boxes and tallying votes similar to a plurality election...

. From their members, the Council selects the Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem (who assumes the duties of the Mayor when the Mayor is unavailable). The Council has traditionally chosen the member with the highest vote count to be Mayor, and the member with the second-highest vote count as Mayor Pro Tem. Elections are held every two years, in odd-numbered years, in part to diminish the influence of political parties. Political party affiliations are not an official part of the city election process, and are seldom part of candidate campaigns. Regular council meetings are held on Mondays, twice per month except during July, August, and December, when meetings are held once per month.

The City Council is supported by 14 advisory boards and committees of citizen volunteers. The council appoints a professional city manager responsible for supervising government operations and implementing the policies adopted by the council.

The 2009 election selected the current city council:
  • Mayor: Judith "J" Davis
  • Mayor Pro Tem: Emmett Jordan
  • Council Members: Konrad Herling, Leta Mach, Silke Pope, Edward Putens, and Rodney Roberts.

The council selects the City Manager:
  • City Manager: Michael McLaughlin.

2009 election reform

Of the ten incorporated cities in Prince George's County, Greenbelt is one of three with at-large elections for council and mayor. (The others are District Heights and New Carrollton.) The remaining seven use combinations of districts and at-large voting. On 2008-02-28, the Maryland American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 and Prince George's County NAACP sent a letter to the Greenbelt City Council claiming that Greenbelt's at-large system may violate section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S....

. According to the letter, the 2000 Census indicated that African-Americans constituted 38% of Greenbelt's voting-age population, Asians 13%, and Latinos 6%. At the time, however, all members of the city council were white. The letter proposed that the city switch to single-winner district-based voting, cumulative voting
Cumulative voting
Cumulative voting is a multiple-winner voting system intended to promote more proportional representation than winner-take-all elections.- History :...

, or choice voting, and indicated a lawsuit would follow if no reform were implemented. While the city population is racially diverse, only two African Americans had run for Council in the 30 years preceding the 2009 election, one of whom had withdrawn before the election. In June 2008, the United States Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 opened an investigation into the city's election system.

In 2008, the city government hosted three public community meetings regarding election reform, in concert with the ACLU, NAACP, and FairVote
FairVote is a U.S. non-profit organization based in Takoma Park, Maryland, whose mission is to achieve universal access to participation, a full spectrum of meaningful ballot choices and majority rule with fair representation for all...

. Over 100 residents attended the forums, including one of the unsuccessful African American candidates, Jeanette
Gordy, who said, "My concern is that people don’t get off their royal behinds. By going to meetings I got what I wanted and found out I had power as a citizen."

In 2009, the city implemented several election reforms with the goal of increasing diversity: increasing the city council from five to seven members, adding an additional precinct in Greenbelt East to shorten voter lines, and amending the city charter to allow early voting.

In the election held November 3, 2009, Emmett Jordan, an African American, was chosen by 75% of voters,
electing him to the Council as Mayor Pro Tem, the second-highest city official. Voter turnout increased from 1,898 to 2,399 voters (a 26% increase in ballots cast) from 2007 to 2009.


Greenbelt is served by Prince George's County Public Schools
Prince George's County Public Schools
The Prince George's County Public Schools system is a large school district administered by the government of Prince George's County, Maryland, United States and is overseen by the Maryland State Department of Education...


The city is served by four elementary schools:
  • Greenbelt Elementary School (Greenbelt)
  • Magnolia Elementary School (unincorporated Prince George's County, Lanham
    Lanham, Maryland
    Lanham is an unincorporated community in Prince George's County in the State of Maryland in the United States of America. Because it is not formally incorporated, it has no official boundaries, but the United States Census Bureau has defined a census-designated place consisting of Lanham and the...

  • Springhill Lake Elementary School (Greenbelt) and
  • The Friends School

All of Greenbelt is served by Greenbelt Middle School and Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Eleanor Roosevelt High School (Greenbelt, Maryland)
Eleanor Roosevelt High School , is a Maryland public magnet high school specializing in science, mathematics, technology, and engineering. The school was established in 1978 at its current location in Greenbelt, Maryland and is part of the Prince George's County Public Schools system...

, a highly rated magnet school; both schools are in the city.

Some other facts and schools that serve Greenbelt include:
  • A private elementary and middle school near the city is The Friends School.
  • A private middle and high school near the city is St. Anselm's Abbey. St. Anselm's is rated as one of the best private high schools in the nation and draws students from throughout the entire Washington, D.C. area including VA and MD.
  • Other private high schools near the city are DeMatha and St. Elizabeth Seton.

See also

  • Greenbelt News Review
    Greenbelt News Review
    The Greenbelt News Review was established in 1937 as a volunteer cooperative shortly after settlement of Greenbelt, Maryland, and was originally called The Cooperator...

  • Greenbelt Police Department
    Greenbelt Police Department
    The Greenbelt Police Department is the primary law enforcment agency servicing a population of 21,972 within of the city of Greenbelt.-Organization:The GPD is a nationally accredited law enforcement agency. The current chief of police is James Craze...

  • Greenbelt 15K
    Greenbelt 15K
    The Greenbelt 15K is a road race held annually on Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Over 400 racers participate in the Greenbelt, Maryland event. The race is hosted by the DC Road Runners Club and held in honor of Larry Noël, longtime club president ....

  • New Deal Cafe
    New Deal Cafe
    The New Deal Cafe is a restaurant and community coffee house in the historic Roosevelt Center of Greenbelt, Maryland. It is a rare example of a restaurant operated as a consumers' cooperative, as it is owned by over 200 member patrons....

  • Arthurdale, West Virginia
    West Virginia
    West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

External links