The Secret History of Roland Park

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Photo via JHU Sheridan Libraries
Photo via JHU Sheridan Libraries

When I went to college, there were plenty of classes about cities. You could easily study urban planning, urban history, and urban film culture. Do you know what there weren’t really classes on, though? The suburbs.

Now it’s finally your turn, scholars of suburbia: Johns Hopkins has acquired extensive documents that detail the early years of Roland Park, Guilford, Homeland, and Northwood. Specifically, the university now has extensive documentation of the Roland Park Company.

Photo via JHU Sheridan Libraries
Photo via JHU Sheridan Libraries

According to the Hopkins Hub, “Every detail of this process [of building Roland Park]—from acquiring land, challenging zoning, and laying out streets to selecting drain pipes, marketing properties, and maintaining the finished neighborhoods—is thoroughly documented in the more than 350 cubic feet of letters, ledgers, reports, scrapbooks, and photographs. From celebrated innovations in landscape and street design to the notorious establishment of restrictive covenants designed to exclude homeownership on the basis of race, religion, and social status, the leaders of the Roland Park Company helped to invent the concept of the suburb. This collection tells that story.”

Photo via JHU Sheridan Libraries
Photo via JHU Sheridan Libraries

You can take a peek at some of the photos from the archive here.



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