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A podcast about unrepeatable experiments in music & art by Dave Hilowitz

Episode 4: Dolgeville

In upstate New York, about an hour and a half northwest of Albany, sits the small town of Dolgeville: population 2,000. The scenery is beautiful: nestled in a valley surrounded by gentle green hills, forests of elm trees, and a rushing river that further downstream turns into a series of picturesque waterfalls. The town itself is somewhat less remarkable. To anyone passing through, it looks like a typical northeastern mill town: a few stores, a high school, a vacant former mill. In fact, there’s pretty much nothing about this place that would lead you to believe it had been the testing ground for some of the major progressive innovations we all take for granted now: things like kindergartens, hydroelectric power, and even Social Security.

In this episode, we explore a major social experiment—a utopian feat of town planning with world-changing ambitions—one that’s now barely a footnote in U.S. history. At the center of this story is the German industrialist Alfred Dolge, the man who gave the town its name.

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