When planning 3 New Deal-era green suburbs, government officials were unable to coax privately-owned businesses to open stores in the prospective center city shopping complexes. The co-op concept was adopted. The very first co-op endeavor, the GREENBELT CENTER Co-op Food Store, began business December 15, 1937. Today, it is the sole green suburb co-op store still in business.
Graphic from Greenbelt Consumer Services
Here we see the original GREENBELT CENTER Co-op Food Store. This snapshot, and the 2 that follow, were taken between January and September of 1938.
Photo from Library of Congress / Marion Post Wolcott
Originally, all businesses in GREENBELT CENTER were operated by a non-profit organization headed by Edward Filene, of Boston's Filene's department store.
Photo from Library of Congress / Arthur Rothstein
In January 1940, Greenbelt's stores became a community-run enterprise. Stores in the Greenhills and Greendale developments were community-run from the start.
Photo from Library of Congress / Russell Lee
By the late 1940s, the Co-op Food Store was so successful that it needed larger quarters. A new store was built adjacent to the existing East Building of GREENBELT CENTER. The new grocery opened its doors in November 1948. In this snapshot, the new store (at the center of the photo) is seen as it appeared in 1950.
Photo from www.greenbeltmuseum.org
The Co-op Food Store was doubled in size during a mid-1950s expansion. It now incorporated the old GREENBELT CENTER Co-op Drug Store. Promoted as the Co-op Supermarket & Pharmacy, its building was gutted by a fire in April 1962. The structure was rebuilt and re-opened in October 1962. It remains in business today.
Photo from Library of Congress / James W. Rosenthal