Eighty Acres Neighborhood

Elsmere, Glassboro, New Jersey, USA


The Disappointed Tourist: Eight Acres Neighborhood, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

A concentration of African American households are found in the southwest portion of Glassboro, known as Elsmere, which predates the official formation of the town and exists to this day. We know from images captured in 1938 by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration, there was an “unsuccessful real estate development for Negros” located round the area of present day Ellis St. and Higgins Dr., Glassboro, NJ 08028. In the 1920s, building-lots in “The Acres” were marketed to prospective Black homeowners; however, it was almost impossible for a Black homebuyer to get an FHA-insured mortgage. As a result, many homes remained half-built. In 1958 a typhoid epidemic broke out in the neighborhood as Glassboro had not included the area in the brough’s public sanitation systems. In the early 1960’s the Ellis Manor public housing complex (colloquially known as the Ellis Street projects) was built. Torn down in 2017, the area is now the site of a rent supported 55+ community called Village at Harmony Garden. This painting is based on a photograph by Arthur Rothstein.

These images (available from the Library of Congress) were captured by photographer Arthur Rothstein for a national photography project by the Farm Security Administration, a New Deal agency charged with combating rural poverty. At the time the agency was controversial due to its efforts to purchase land owned by poor farmers and then relocate these families on government-owned land forming a farming collective. Mike B. / Glassboro Memory Mapping