Levitt & Sons

Nassau County, Long Island

AlamyConstruction of Levittown was famously quick: a home was built every 16 minutes.

In 1947, entrepreneur Abraham Levitt and his two sons, William and Alfred, broke ground on a planned community located in Nassau County, Long Island. Within a few years, the Levitts had transformed the former farmland into a suburban community housing thousands of men—many of whom were veterans returned from World War II—and their families. The Levitts would go on to create two other communities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and the legacy of the first Levittown has become a legend in the history of the American suburbs. Even at the time, the iconic community represented for many all that was hopeful and wholesome for the estimated twenty million Americans who followed Levittown’s lead and made the trek to suburbia in the 1950s.

But underneath the uniform houses lining the curved, meticulously gardened roads of Levittown lies a much more turbulent story. Although 1950s suburbia conjures visions of traditional family life, idyllic domesticity, and stability, the story of the suburbanization of America is also one of exclusion, segregation, and persecution. Levittown itself arguably embodied the best and worst of the postwar American story; it was a result of the entrepreneurship and ingenuity that has come to define the American spirit, but it also participated in the violent prejudice that has also been part of American history.

Suburbia in the American Historical Imagination

The suburbs, of course, were not born in the 1950s. The appeal of living beyond the noise, pollution, overcrowding, and disease of the city, while still close enough to enjoy the benefits of its industrial and cultural vitality, is an idea that historians have traced back thousands of years to the very first civilizations.  But the delineation between urban and nonurban has particular significance in U.S. history. So much of the American story has involved, literally and ideologically, turning away from the crowded industry of the city to the romantic beauty of the frontier. Thomas Jefferson, for example, dreamed of the U.S. as a nation of small yeoman farmers, and once wrote that he viewed “large cities as pestilential to the morals, the health, and the liberties of man.”

Despite Jefferson’s vision, cities in the U.S. formed and flourished. Starting in the early nineteenth century, the advent of new forms of transportation (such as trains and steamboats) made commuting to urban centers more convenient. By the 1920s, the first suburban boom was occurring with nearly 900,000 new homes a year springing up in new communities outside city lines. Just like Thomas Jefferson had dreamed of farmers with their own land to sow as an essential ingredient of America’s future, homeownership became not only a mark of success but was perceived as an attribute to both the character of the individual and of the nation. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said later in the century, “A nation of homeowners, of people who own a real share in their land, is unconquerable.”

How and why did suburbia become such an iconic and beloved part of American life? Some historians have postulated that after two world wars—both with staggering death tolls—followed by the uncertainty of the Cold War nuclear age, American families found stability and protection within the suburban home. Advertisers for suburban developments emphasized the green, open spaces of the suburbs and hinted buyers would find a sense of peace and tranquility unattainable in city life. Historian Kenneth Jackson has written that the post-world War II single-family tract house, “whatever its aesthetic failings, offered growing families a private haven in a heartless world.”

The Construction of Levittown

In the years after World War II, however, not everyone could attain that promised tranquility. One problem was a severe housing shortage. A combination of unusually high birth rates (which bred the baby boomer generation) and plummeting construction left many families struggling to find any suitable shelters, sometimes living in boxcars, chicken coops, and large iceboxes. To many of those families, the Levittowns in Long Island, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were the answer to their prayers.

Perfecting the Suburb

The Levitts certainly did not invent the business of building suburbs, but in many ways, they perfected it. Abraham, a horticultural enthusiast, was heavily involved in the landscaping and gardening of the community. Alfred, the quieter of the two sons, experimented with progressive ways of designing and constructing homes while his brother Bill marketed and sold them with vigor. Bill later became the public face of the company, loved (and later reviled), gracing magazine covers and dubbed the “King of Suburbia.”

The Levitts experimented with and implemented wholly new methods of building a community, taking the division of labor and efficiency to the extreme, transforming “a cottage industry into a major manufacturing process.” They divided the construction of each home into twenty-seven steps starting with the laying of a concrete base. Construction workers were trained to do one step at each house (which were spaced 60 feet apart) instead of building each house up from scratch individually.

Suburban Utopia

The Levitts’ homes were affordable, planted in a picture-perfect, carefully controlled community, and were equipped with futuristic stoves and television sets. The houses were simple, unpretentious, and most importantly to its inhabitants, affordable to both the white and blue-collar worker. And the Levitts took more than the homes themselves into consideration—they designed community streets along curvilinear patterns to create a graceful, un-urban grid like feel, and directed cars going through the development to the outside of the community so Levittown would not be disturbed by noisy traffic. Even the maintenance of houses and yards were meticulously governed; buyers agreed to a laundry list of rules that, for example, prohibited residents from hanging laundry to dry outside their homes.

Discrimination in Levittown

Despite such meticulous community planning, all was not serene in Levittown. The Levitts’ level of control over the appearance of Levittown did not stop at the yards and houses but extended to the appearance of the inhabitants themselves. Bill Levitt only sold houses to white buyers, excluding African Americans from buying houses in his communities even after. By 1953, the 70,000 people who lived in Levittown constituted the largest community in the United States with no black residents.

Originally, the Levitts’ racist policy was enshrined in the lease itself, which stipulated that “the tenant agrees not to permit the premises to be sued or occupied by any person other than members of the Caucasian race.”  That provision was later struck down in court as unconstitutional, but Bill Levitt continued to enforce racial homogeneity in practice by rejecting would-be black buyers.

Fighting Racist Restrictions

Activist groups across the U.S. and even individuals within Levittown, who united under the Committee to End Discrimination in Levittown, protested the Levitts’ racist policies. In 1955, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sued federal mortgage agencies which had helped future homeowners finance the purchase of homes in the community, basing the suit on the denial of six black veterans from purchasing homes. Thurgood Marshall, the lawyer who had successfully argued Brown v. Board of Education, represented the plaintiffs, but a Philadelphia court dismissed the suit after ruling that the federal agencies were not responsible for preventing housing discrimination.

Though the Levitts made it an unofficial policy not to sell homes to minorities, they could not legally prevent an existing homeowner from reselling their home to black buyers. In 1957, William and Daisy Myers, a black couple with young children, bought a house in Levittown, Pennsylvania from the former owners. The Myers family faced endless harassment as well as implicit and explicit threats of violence from other residents in the community, with little help from the local police to keep the mobs of angry racists from congregating outside their home day and night. Through perseverance and courage, however, Myers outlasted their harassers and eventually succeeded in filing criminal charges against the worst members of the mob.

Shadow of Communism

The specter of communism was also heavily implicated in the Myers struggle, as members of both sides of the conflict hurled charges of socialism at their opponents. White residents of Levittown and other still segregated communities across the country took to blandly referencing their “Americanism” as justification for racial exclusivity and painted those who sought to enforce integration as that which was at the time perceived as the most un-American of allegiances, communist. Indeed, the very charters of Levittown and suburbs across America were closely intertwined with the preservation of the capitalist American way in the face of growing Soviet international influence. Though the government attempted to address the severe housing shortage by launching some public housing programs, those programs were viciously vilified by right-wing politicians as a form of socialism. Senator Joseph McCarthy himself called public housing projects “breeding ground[s] for communists.”

The Levitts and McCarthy joined forces in promoting Levittown as a more American, capitalist alternative to public housing solutions. McCarthy posed with washing machines to be placed in Levittown homes and praised Levittown as a model of the American way. Bill Levitt himself once said, “No man who owns his own home and lot can be a Communist, he has too much to do.” Later, Levitt vilified those who questioned his segregationist policies as communists. It wasn’t only segregationists used the charge of Communism to their advantage. U.S. writer Pearl Buck once compared the architectural and racial uniformity of the Levittown as reminiscent of the conformity of Communist China.

 The construction and growth of Levittown was a godsend for many houseless families, but it was also a battleground for divisive conceptions of race and political differences in the United States. Journalist David Kushner, the author of a book about the Myers experience, wrote of that less told story of Levittown’s history, “It epitomizes how systematically people can be shut out of a dream—and yet how heroically they can take it back.”

Bettmann/CorbisBy 1950, 80% percent of Levittown’s male residents commuted to jobs in Manhattan.

A Systemic Problem

Sadly, the experiences of the Myers in Levittown were not unique but were echoed in houses, apartments, and streets across the nation. How was segregation still such a real, persevering and violent part of communities long after residential segregation laws had been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1917?

During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt had launched a federal agency called the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC), meant to protect struggling homeowners from losing their homes. The HOLC later implemented a system of rating neighborhoods with letter grades to help more systematically discern property values. While racially homogenous and primarily white neighborhoods generally received higher grades, the agency deemed those neighborhoods housing minorities or, “an undesirable element,” in the official language, with its lowest ratings.  Later, the Federal Housing Authority continued to use those HOLC standards when issuing mortgages. As historian Jackson has written, “For perhaps the first time, the federal government embraced the discriminatory attitudes of the marketplace. Previously, prejudices were personalized and individualized; FHA exhorted segregation and enshrined it as public policy.”

Home Owners Rating System

The rating system eventually contributed to reinforcing segregation as real estate agents and landlords steered white buyers to white communities and African Americans to poorer developments. The system also enforced the perception that the entry of racial minorities into a community resulted in a drop in property values. As one neighbor of the Myers family told Life magazine during the standoff, “He’s [William Myers] probably a nice guy, but every time I look at him I see $2,000 drop off the value of my house.” While federal policies encouraged homeownership as a way to reinforce the capitalist spirit of the nation and real estate marketing celebrated homeownership as the key ingredient to an ideal domestic existence, government bureaucrats, real estate agents, and landlords all implemented policies which helped exclude a large portion of American society from realizing that dream.

Not all communities replicated the racial tensions of Levittown, however. Quaker-built Pennsylvanian suburb Concord Park, for example, was built under the motto “Democracy in Housing,” and embraced diverse residents. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy issued an Executive Order prohibiting racial discrimination in any housing developments built or bought with the assistance of the federal government. Though the move was an important step in preventing federal agencies from enabling the racial policies of communities like Levittown, the house-by-house, street-by-street battle for integration of suburban communities and city blocks would last much longer.

The Mixed Suburban Legacy

After the financial success of the Levittown in Long Island, Levitt and Sons went on to build two more Levittowns, one in Pennsylvania and one in New Jersey. The uniform houses and immaculate lawns of the Levittown version of Suburbia made an indelible impression in the American mind, and an image of the winding roads of Levittown still conjures associations of a peaceful, wholesome Leave it To Beaver-type existence.

But the legacy of the suburbs that Levittown embodied was not simple, as shown by the struggle of the Myers. Others attacked suburban communities not just for their segregationism, but for a uniformity of spirit some saw as worth struggling against. In 1963, folk singer Malvina Reynold’s song “Little Boxes,” captured what some in the growing counter-culture movement saw as the forced conformity of suburban life. The song has been covered by countless other folk singers since, including Pete Seeger:


The suburbs have clearly come to symbolize more than just collections of white picket-fenced houses outside a city. Jackson wrote in Crabgrass Frontier, “Suburbia…is a manifestation of such fundamental characteristics of American society as conspicuous consumption, a reliance upon the private automobile, upward mobility, the separation of the family nuclear units, the widening division between work and leisure, and the tendency toward racial and economic exclusiveness.” To some, suburbia was a symbol of American can-do; to others, it was a symbol of conformity and exclusion. The story of Levittown captures both the hopeful and darker sides of the rise of the American suburbs.

  1. David Kushner, Levittown: Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America’s Legendary Suburb. New York: Walker Publishing Company, xiii.
  2. Kenneth Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 12 
  3. Kushner, 6
  4. Kushner, 7
  5. Jackson, 244
  6. Kushner, 30
  7. Jackson, 234
  8. Kushner, 42
  9. Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar American. New York: Vintage Books, 2003, 217
  10. Kushner, 43 
  11. Kushner, 30
  12. Kushner, 45
  13. Kushner, xiv
  14. Kushner, 70
  15. Kushner, xv
  16. Kushner, 17 
  17. Jackson, 213
  18. Cohen, 217
Crystal N. Galyean is a writer, editor, and historian who lives in New Jersey, where she makes sweet sweet bluegrass music with her band the Great Grassby. Her writing has appeared in various educational publications as well as the Village Voice, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and literary journals.

43 responses to “Levittown

  1. My parents moved into Levittown, NY, after the war. Treeless, with mud everywhere, and rows of identical cheap (about $6,000) houses, some predicted it would was destined to be an ugly slum community. Perhaps that’s part of the reason the Levitt builders took steps such as winding streets, landscaping, community parks with pools, etc. And, sadly, the fear of that outcome may have contributed to their imposing a racial exclusion policy.

    1. My parents bought a house in Levittown, NY in 1953 after my Dad returned from the Korean War. They only lived there for about three years, but babies #3 and #4 were born there. Even years later, I never heard either of my parents mention the policy of segregation in the community. I would imagine at the time they were just too concerned with putting a roof over their growing family. I still have photos taken on our front lawn of the first four of us kids in our family. Levittown served a purpose in providing affordable housing for returning veterans . . . it’s too bad that not all veterans were included.

      1. When my parents bought in 1948, they bought directly from the Levitt company and they were told quite clearly of that of the white-only policy. In later years and when they sold in 1966 after I had finished high school, no one mentioned it. The legacy of the policy lingers as even today Levittown has a very small percentage non-white, which is perhpas surprising considering that the houses are still among the most affordable in the county. As the article notes and other histories confirm, housing discrimination was widespread and practiced by all the those involved in real estate (government agencies, lenders, realtors, homeowners, etc.) and it persisted even into the 1970s. What the Levitts did was perhaps more notable because of size of their remarkable housing development and the clarity of their discriminatory policy. This article has additional information:

    2. I think if you look back at the history of that time, and even before, back to the Twenties, you will find that Levitt basically had his financial hands tied behind his back in reference to the policy of “Whites only buyers” for not just Levittown, but for all of their previous building, whether it was contracted or built “on spec.” NO lender, no bank, no savings and loan, no building and loan, not EVEN the Federal Government programs like the FHA or the GI Bill lenders, would write loans for housing for black borrowers. Especially not in areas that were predominantly white, and where more white people would be living.

      It was a process called “Redlining” which takes its name from the process of using red drawing pencil to actually draw red lines around undesirable areas on their local zoning maps, where no lender would invest any money in homes, businesses, or any other purpose in predominantly or all-black communities. This actually helped to create the slums, the rapidly deteriorating communities in the inner cities, because without heavy amounts of money to invest in upgrading or even just maintaining these communities, they go to heck in a handbasket. Without a source of money to use to buy homes and create communities of middle class homeowners, you get large areas of deteriorating rentals that landlords will not invest their OWN money in to keep them up, because they know that they can charge whatever they want for their rundown, badly maintained hovels because nobody in the black communities had any better options to turn to. They couldnt even buy their way out with large sums of cash, say from an insurance settlement paid out when the head of the household died, because there were no nice areas of homes to buy in that weren’t strictly segregated. (Watch “A Raisin in the Sun” sometime, if you haven’t yet.) So , as long as you had a white face, and didn’t have any “funny sounding” names or acents – like Jewish, Irish Catholics, other kinds of Eastern European names or anything they just didn’t like about you – then you would likely get your loan. Unless of course, your credit was trashed, or you had a long list of arrests and convictions, or some other reason they could find on paper.

      It was extremely easy to see in Real Estate ads back in the 1920’s for new developments, that they were meant for, and would ONLY be sold to white borrowers, with impeccable social references, in the fine – and sometimes not so fine – print in the beautifully written and illustrated ads for these developments, where the euphemism “Heavily Restricted” was employed, allegedly in the ad – “to protect property values” – meaning if your face is anything but lily white, or if you go to Temple on Saturday instead of Church on Sunday, then you won’t even get past the front door of the real estate company’s or the builder’s office. And boy, they checked you OUT too! NOTHING got past them, and you sure wouldn’t if you had any of those dread “social diseases.” I’ve seen these ads too, because I collect vintage building trade journals from that time, more specifically for their tie-in to the Bungalow Era, not the reprehensible text displayed in subdivision and suburban development advertisements.

      From Wikipedia on Levittown’s history: “The discriminatory housing standards of Levittown were consistent with government policies of the time. The Federal Housing Administration allowed developers to justify segregation within public housing. The FHA only offered mortgages to non-mixed developments which discouraged developers from creating racially integrated housing. In accordance with this policy, the buying agreement signed by all those who purchased homes in Levittown stated that the property could not be used or rented by any individuals other than those of the Caucasian race. Before the sale of Levittown homes began, the sales agents were aware that no applications from black families would be accepted. As a result, American veterans who wished to purchase a home in Levittown were unable to do so if they were black.

      William Levitt attempted to justify their decision to only sell homes to white families by saying that it was in the best interest for business. He claimed their actions were not discriminatory but intended to maintain the value of their properties. The company explained that it was not possible to reduce racial segregation while they were attempting to reduce the housing shortage. Though the Levitts were Jewish, they did not wish to sell homes to Jewish families: “As a Jew, I have no room in my heart for racial prejudice. But the plain fact is that most whites prefer not to live in mixed communities. This attitude may be wrong morally, and someday it may change. I hope it will.” The Levitts explained that they would open up applications to blacks after they had sold as many homes to white people as possible. They believed that potential white buyers would not want to buy a house in Levittown if they were aware that they would have black neighbors.”

      Just as a side note – the admonition about not hanging your wash outside in your backyard was not a seven day a week proposition. In fact, it was only on Sundays, because they felt it wasn’t “tidy looking” on what was supposed to be a “Family Day” or a day of rest, for people who wanted to enjoy their backyards with their families to be forced to look at your laundry flapping in the breeze! OF course, after a time, this proved unenforceable, as well as the “No fenced in back yards” covenant, and the Levitts DID prescribe the TYPE of clothesline you could have as well. It had to be that “umbrella type” that stuck into a pipe permanently installed to just under ground level, and folded out like an umbrella, and then the most important point – would be folded up, removed and stored away out of sight until the next time you did the wash. (As long as it wasn’t on a Sunday!)

      Homeowners were deluged with advertisements from local hardware, home improvement, and even appliance dealers, who were either pedaling THEIR “best grade, best buy” on umbrella type clotheslines, or even automatic clothes dryers! They were certainly available, but rather expensive, especially for brand new homeowners who just exhausted their savings, cashed in all the War Bonds they possibly could, packed up, picked up, and moved themselves, bag, baggage, and baby carriage, to a brand new house in a brand new suburb! But! The appliance dealer had the answer for that too! It was called “Buying on time” with a dollar down, a dollar a week for a million weeks (or so it seemed sometimes.)

      But, it got you that brand new clothes dryer, and eliminated the need to do the laundry based on the rain forecasts, or to hang the wash upstairs inside the unfinished attic in the middle of frigid New England winters. And eliminated the possibility of getting a “violation notice” for hanging out your wash on Sunday, if that was the first day out of the previous 12 where it hadn’t rained continuously! AHhhh…..life in the suburbs!

      1. Thanks for expanding on the discrimination question. I have no insight into how much the Levitts lacked freedom to choose their discrimination policies. Regarding the 1950s controversies over discrimination that the author mentions, my impression is that it was more of an issue in Levittown, PA, than in first Levittown on Long Island. The author’s mention of the role of anti-communism as justification for discrimination is interesting, though I would suppose it played a lesser role in Levitt’s thinking than fears about property values. My recollection of the 1950s is that public figures generally seemed eager to portray themselves as anticommunist patriots.

        Regarding dryers, many suburbs today have restrictive covenants banning backyard clotheslines. The original Levittown Cape Cod designs had a Bendix washing machine in the tiny kitchen with very little floor space for the owner to add an electric dryer! It’s less of an issue today, because most owners have expanded over the years. There has been so much remodeling that very few original Cape Cods exist in Levittown, Long Island. The original same “little boxes” from the folk song have almost disappeared.

        1. Yes, my very, very “green” focused sister-in-law lives in one of those communities, and she hates that part of the many covenants they seem forced to endure. If her house wasn’t fully paid for, I think she would prefer to go elsewhere.

          As for the Bendix washers, I always thought they were something of a unique brand, as their later higher grade models combined the functions of washer and dryer into one machine! You put your dry dirty laundry in, and later took your dry CLEAN laundry out! They seemed to be the perfect solution, and have always wondered why they didn’t do better in the marketplace than they did. On further thought, I figure it’s probably because either of the expense, or more likely that the company saw more profit potential in selling TWO appliances over one! Not sure which carries more weight. Maybe I’ll look into that situation one of these days!

          1. just so you know, the washer/dryer can be found under the kitchen counter in many countries outside the USA. I nave been looking at house plans at developments in Wales glad to see they are including closets now. I think themajor reason I didn’t move there years ago was that I couldn’t pronounce the names of streets, cities and towns. It’ worse than Scotland.

          2. Yes, I understand Welsh is quite a challenging language to learn, since it really doesn’t follow any of the pronunciation rules of English.
            By “including closets now” do you mean closets to hang your clothing in? If so, what have they been using up until now? The old fashioned wooden wardrobes and chifrobes? Or, something else with which I’m not familiar? I’m really interested.

          3. our dryer was in my bedroom, the front one which were the smaller of the two.. washers were next to heaters.. I remember when a black family wanted to move in , someone went around with a petition and my dad would not sign it.

          4. Good for your Dad! It’s so important to put a halt to such social inequalities, and it always starts with one person.

          5. Obviously, a petition to STOP them from moving in. What else could it be, given the subject matter that has already been covered? What are you – 12?
            Reading comprehension – work on that, will ya? Then maybe you wouldn’t have to ask so many questions about subjects which have already been covered.

          6. I don’t assume. You do that quite well therefore there’s enough assuming going on in the world. Why do you have a problem with questions? You work on that. This is an open forum; my views may be different from yours. You are not here to police all posts and assure they are all in sync with yours.

      2. You said: I think if you look back at the history of that time, and even before, back to the Twenties, you will find that Levitt basically had his financial hands tied behind his back in reference to the policy of “Whites only buyers” for not just Levittown, but for all of their previous building, whether it was contracted or built “on spec.” NO lender, no bank, no savings and loan, no building and loan, not EVEN the Federal Government programs like the FHA or the GI Bill lenders, would write loans for housing for black borrowers. Especially not in areas that were predominantly white, and where more white people would be living.
        Hands tied? Since there was discrimination there would be no need to put in a contract not to sell to blacks or non whites, since they couldn’t get loans anyway. His hands were not tied. You are making excuses for a racist. Also, someone else perhaps you as well (I don’t recall ;you post A LOT) said parents never mentioned that part of the contract. Why would they? My parents did not discuss terms of their mortgage with their children; when we were children or adults. Again, why would they? I have no doubt plenty of people in those communities had no issues with that clause.

        1. Ahhh – then you have done absolutely NO research on the racial profiling of the times, or a concept called “red lining” or the reason that areas of predominantly black residence are and always have been “self propagating” in the matter of low quality, high cost housing, and business presence. That the wording “highly restricted” was placed in the advertising of EVERY “whites only” community or development as a way of expressing that “whites only” requirement for buying property or housing no matter how deep anybody’s pockets happened to be. If the hands reaching into those “deep pockets” were black, or any shade other than Lily white, they were absolutely not welcome. If Levitt had decided to be a Social reformer at the time instead of a housing developer, he would have had NO sales whatsoever. Banks, savings and loans, etc., and so forth, would not have written mortgage #1 for any buyer of color, and whites wouldn’t have set foot on the grounds for fear that they would.
          Yes, it was written into the contracts, in very clear, non- mistakable black and white, in every housing development of the day. The banks and other lenders required it. Even the FHA, AND THE VA LOANS sources required it. They would not make loans to people of color in that time, and made that extremely clear, so that IT would be extremely clear in any court in the land.

          1. Ahhh Shari. 🙂 You work so hard to prove my point. No need though. There is nothing wrong with me pointing out racism no matter the era or Government. Your vitriol, insults, & assumptions do tell me a lot about you. Thanks for that education.

        2. Should say – “That the wording “highly restricted” was placed in the advertising of every whites-only community or development -as far back as the 1920’s- as a way of expressing that “whites only” requirement ….” It was a not-so-closeted reassurance to the well-to-do potential white buyers that there would not be anyone who could potentially be identified as “others” in their community, besides domestic staff, of course.

        3. I don’t recall saying anything about parents not mentioning the discriminatory portion of the contract to their children. I just reread what I have posted regarding this particular subject, and even though I was sure it wasn’t me, verified it in case it might have been something taken out of context. It wasn’t, I didn’t, so apparently it was someone else to whom you are referring.

          1. I specifically said: Also, someone else perhaps you as well (I don’t recall ;you post A LOT) said parents never mentioned that part of the contract. Why would they?
            Nowhere did I say YOU definitely said…and it was well within context.

  2. My family moved into our Levittown home in 1952. I enjoyed meeting new friends and how the neighbors worked together as neighbors. The yards were still dirt and the streets were cement and the construction workers were still constructing homes in nearby neighborhoods. When our family drove around looking at the variety of styles I noticed the workers. There were both ‘White American carpenters’ and’African American carpenters’ working together. Later in life I received original photos of different workers building Levittown,Pa which shows Levittown homes being built and this example. My love for this community allows me to organize , LevittownInternationallyKnownCommunitiesInc.net is the website.

    1. Ha! So black people helped build communities they were forbade to live in…and? As is true all over the country. “(°.°)/”

    1. Yes! Asbestos roofs! They were apparently better quality to everyone involved – those who lived under them, who made them, who made loans on or insured the homes they were installed on, because they were fireproof.
      This was an extremely important feature to homeowners all the way back to the early twenties who had been living in homes prior to that with wooden shingle roofs and open flame heat sources, where a few good sparks from the chimney picked up by the wind could land them on any nearby roof, including the home it came from of course, and begin a raging house fire. More houses were lost that way than most any other in those times. Asbestos was absolutely fireproof, didn’t rot, didn’t decay, and lasted longer than any other material except slate, of course. Asbestos was the “Wonder Material” of the age, as it was used to create numerous fireproof and insulating materials for building many types of structures. Combined with certain types of cement and coloring materials, it could become home siding, with which the original Levittown homes were sided. Yes, that asbestos. And as long as it’s left alone, and not broken apart but just covered, it’s completely safe.
      Yes, I know ALL about the risks, and the dangers, and the health issues it’s associated with, and the cover-ups by the companies who dealt with it in their products. I’ve lost one uncle, about 10 years ago, from asbestosis, who worked in the fabric mills in the mid-50’s, before becoming a welder in the shipbuilding industry for decades, and my stepfather is dealing with asbestosis now, at the age of 90, but he was a white collar piping designer on submarines. So, his exposure levels were lower by far than my uncle’s. Yes, I know all about that stuff.

      1. This response alone was interesting, thank you. That is, minus the last sentence. I never said you Shari do not know about the risks of asbestos. Facts and kindness get points across more effectively without insults, assumptions & unqualified anger.

        1. No, you never said that, but I was not addressing you specifically in the last bit, but also anyone and everyone else who could read my answer.
          It was much more of a proactive statement to those who have commonly come along behind me, quoting chapter and verse regarding those circumstances, automatically assuming I am an unqualified “Rah! Rah!” Cheerleader for asbestos without being aware of it’s dangers. Good Lord, who doesn’t know them by now? 😒 Anyway, there was no insult, assumption (other than that which I have already described, and based on previous experience) or unqualified anger implied, or directed at anyone in particular.
          The problem here is the unqualified lack of expression of several factors most important in interpersonal communications. The things that are difficult if not impossible to include in written communications. Things like body language, eye expression, facial expressions in general, tone of voice, inflection, and so forth. The inclusion of the little “faces” we can access and insert in our writing, and the ability to write in all caps, are helpful but by no means complete in establishing those missing factors. But, even in the 21st century, the ability to do two very simple things in these kinds of messages, and in text messages are STILL missing! What I mean is color, and underlining! I have yet to find that capability in any smartphone platform I have examined to date!

          1. I’ve not witnessed any implied anger anywhere. I’ve observed outward anger in your posts. Your “Rah, rah” portion appears out of context. If I or anyone else wants to post 1 or 5 word messages, that’s ok. Not all posts have to be fluffed up with too many words. Let it be. You don’t have to comprehend or even address everything. If you truly were all knowing all seeing you wouldn’t be here, you’d be on another level of existence. But alas here you are, breathe. ; ) oh and !

  3. Research would have uncovered the reality of the Levittown in Bowie, Md, which is a healthy racial mix, reflecting the employment policies of the federal government and military, where its residents work. The Levittowns are a reflection of the larger communities, and the financing policies, where they are located. There was a tradeoff, which these comments have ignored. I was an architect and planner with the firm in the early ’60s and know whereof I speak:
    1. Each community was built with neighborhood schools, parks and community shopping center, sidewalks, all built by Levitt. Minimal need for school busses; the planning allowed all kids to safely walk to school. Sewage and water plants were financed or built as required.
    2. Each community had a hierarchy of streets, so that the arterial highways separating each “neighborhood” had no driveways, preserving the carrying capacity of the town owned infrastructure.
    2. The mass production system of factory manufactured panellized construction was invented by Levitt, and is now the standard nationwide. This included framing innovations that anticipated the hurricane code standards required decades later. The results were outstanding:
    At Levittown NY, homes have pre-plumbed expandable second stories, a two sided brick fireplace, built in washer/dryer, a TV set built in the wall, a rotating bookcase wall to allow for larger gatherings, and maintenance free cedar siding, asbestos siding and roofing, aluminum windows. All for $5,000. Marketplace preference for “the colonial look” ended all this innovation in later developments.
    The later Levittowns provided for economic diversity also; but bank lending practices dictated separate streets and neighborhoods for the larger more costly homes.

    It’s easy to cherry pick things to criticize. Social progress in the US has always been a bitter struggle, one that is still ongoing, 160 years after the Civil War.
    Levitt housed hundreds of thousands of families in a hurry, in neighborhoods that have held their value, and today exhibit an extraordinary degree of physical diversity. The Pete Seeger song was not directed at this builder, but at copycats who did build “ticky-tacky” with fake colonial aspirations.

    Think about the options: publicly financed high rise housing, most of which was imploded three or four decades after they were built? An aunt and uncle stayed in their 1948 VA financed Levittown home until moving to Assisted Living at age 90. They fought for integration, when the law was behind them. They had a wide and very diverse circle of friends. As their income grew, so did the additions to the house! All that with 50′ lots. The community density is twice the suburban average, a great defense against urban sprawl. The classic sociology text “The Levittowners” (Herbert Gans) demonstrated the benefits to family stability and mental health when moving from Philadelphia slums to Levittown Pa or Willingboro (nee Levittown) New Jersey.

    Richard L. Rosen, AIA Emeritus

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