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Coldspring Newtown oral history collection

Identifier: OH CN


The Coldspring Newtown project was a housing development in Baltimore in the 1970s. Spearheaded by renowned Architect Moshi Safdie, the complex was considered an engineering marvel for its time. This collection contains video interviews with nine individuals associated with the project, circa 1979. At the time the interviews took place, there were roughly 150 families that were moved into the Coldspring Newtown community, with an estimated 4,000 soon to come. However, due to different governmental decisions to cut funding to housing projects, the site never saw its full potential.


  • 1979 May 15- September 17

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

Prior to World War II, Americans had started to move from rural to urban living spaces thanks to booming industry. However, after World War II ended, there was a massive shift in style of housing American families placed value in for a variety of reasons. This started the change from urban to suburban, as Americans left the city for townhouses and lawn space to raise their families. Baltimore, Maryland was a perfect example of this change, which concerned Baltimore leaders. Specifically, middle-class families were leaving the city.

Arguably, middle-class families impact the economics of a city the most. Without them, leaders worried infrastructure would crumble. Thus began the goal of constructing a neighborhood that would lure middle-class families back to the city: the Coldspring Newtown project. The design would be exciting but functional, with the best the city and the suburbs have to offer. It was supposed to be the perfect draw. Although the design was incredibly unique, it was never given the chance to reach its full potential, as different government decisions cut funding to housing projects.


10 Items (There are ten oral histories in this collection.)

Language of Materials



Fish, H. Bradford. "Coldspring: Rave New World Revisited." The Washington Post. February 13, 1982.

Philipsen, Klaus. "Why Cold Spring New Town never took off." Community Architect Daily. May 12, 2017.

Scope and Contents

This collection includes 10 oral history video interviews, conducted by Sam Zappas and Bruce Jaffe. Along with the recordings, there are also a variety of tape indexes and transcripts.

The people interviewed were all heavily involved with the creation of the Coldspring Newtown project, including but not limited to: M.J. Brodie, the Baltimore Housing Commissioner; Robert Embry, Undersecretary of The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and former Baltimore Housing Commissioner; James Rouse, founder of the Rouse Company; Robert Heilbroner, economist; and Moshi Safdie, the world-renown architect.

Researchers should be made aware that unlike other collections in the Maryland Center for History and Culture, in this instance the term "oral history" is used much looser. It is more likely that the interviews in this collection were used for some sort of promotional video for the Coldspring Newtown site that was never finished. With this in mind, OH 8663, OH 8666, OH 8668, OH 8669 especially are not traditional oral history interviews. For example, OH 8663 and 8669 repeat the same information several times, but from different camera angles. OH 8666 includes retakes and discussions on how to film the interview. OH 8668 includes multiple "cameo shots" and "stills" that are tangentially related to the interview.

Guide to the Coldspring Newtown oral history collection.
Under Revision
Cathryn Kinde
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States