Workers' Paradise:
The Forgotten Communities of World War I

A Research Project by Prof. Eran Ben-Joseph
MIT School of Architecture+ Planning

(Any information, documnets, images or links associated with the USHC, the people who worked there, or the communities they built, would be greatly appreciated)

In 1917 the United States Government embarked upon an unprecedented experiment- the planning and construction of neighborhoods and housing for American workers and their families. Within a period of two years over 83 new housing projects in 26 States were designed, planned and had commenced construction. The achievements of this effort are staggering. Within few years 5,033 acres were developed into housing for over 170,000 people. Almost 30,000 families lived in 9,543 single and 3,996 semi-detached homes while 5,000 apartments housed single workers. Eighteen schools, 8 hospitals, 17 churches and 8 theaters provided social and cultural services. Over 649,505 liner feet of state of the art sewer and water infrastructure insured an unprecedented level of hygiene and health.

AIM: This on-going project concerns revealing and documenting the rapidly vanishing, unique, and scarcely known housing projects and neighborhoods that were designed and constructed all over the country by the United States Government.

The PURPOSE of this research is threefold: First, to expose this remarkable national endeavor, the people behind it and the neighborhoods that were built; second, to document and catalog all existing structures and communities built; and third, to interpret the role this program played in the formation of city design and development in following years. The plan of this proposal is for: a. continuation of in-depth archival research at the National Archives in Washington, DC where the records of the U.S. Housing Corporation (USHC) 1917-1932 are held, b. documentation through digital media, photography and mapping all of the existing neighborhoods or their remnants, c. the publication of a book and possible documentary on the subject.