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. In 1946, developer William J. Levitt and his brother Alfred capitalized on the twin circumstances of enormous demand and unequaled opportunity of the post-World War II era by purchasing 1500 acres of potato fields in Nassau County, Long Island and then building 6,000 small, boxy houses there in little more than a year.By the time Levitt started building, America returned to a state . It is located halfway between the villages of Hempstead and Farmingdale. This inquiry-based lesson combines individual investigations of primary resources and visual media with group analysis to investigate the following inquiry: How is the architectural evolution of the American home related to broader themes of modern U.S . 1.0% of the population and 0.1% of families were below the poverty line. Levittown was one of three "package" suburbs developed between 1947 and 1959. 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.) My parents bought a house in Levittown, NY in 1953 after my Dad returned from the Korean War. The HomeAdvisor Community Rating is an overall rating based on verified reviews and feedback from our community of homeowners that have been connected with service professionals. 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. The FHA only offered mortgages to non-mixed developments which discouraged developers from creating racially integrated housing. Why would they? The practice caught on. , Levittown is protected by three volunteer fire departments, the Levittown Fire Department with 231 members operating out of 3 stations, Station 3 of the East Meadow Fire Department which covers portions of Levittown west of Division Avenue, and Station 2 of the Wantagh Fire Department which serves portions of Levittown South of Abbey Lane School. Yes! , Levittown is patrolled by the eighth precinct of the Nassau County Police Department.. 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 hadnt rained continuously! Levitt was the first large-scale builder to construct houses on radiantly heated cement slabs. Hales, Peter Bacon (September 2016) "Levittown's Palimpsest: Colored Skin" in. and it persisted even into the 1970s. My love for this community allows me to organize , LevittownInternationallyKnownCommunitiesInc.net is the website. 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. So , as long as you had a white face, and didnt have any funny sounding names or acents like Jewish, Irish Catholics, other kinds of Eastern European names or anything they just didnt like about you then you would likely get your loan. ), northern and eastern Wantagh, and most of Seaford. 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. Now, in a second conversation, two scholars and a practitioner analyze the history of white supremacy in the built environment and in architectural education. Jackson wrote in Crabgrass Frontier, Suburbiais 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. It also became a symbol of postwar suburbia in the U.S. (AP Photo/Levittown Public . 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. The assembly-line production techniques could produce up to 30 of the four-bedroom Cape Cod houses (all the homes in the first Levittown were the same) each day. They will also examine documents about the history of Levittown, the most famous and most important of the postwar suburban planned developments. The story of Levittown captures both the hopeful and darker sides of the rise of the American suburbs. The system also enforced the perception that the entry of racial minorities into a community resulted in a drop in property values. If Levitt had decided to be a Social reformer at the time instead of a housing developer, he would have had NO sales whatsoever. Levittown, New York, is an unincorporated area in Nassau County, New York. Couldnt the mass-production strategies hed learned putting up military housing give it to them? 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! Even at the time, the iconic community represented for many all that was hopeful and wholesome for the estimated twenty million Americans who followed Levittowns lead and made the trek to suburbia in the 1950s. University of Pennsylvania sociologist Gans and his wife bought one of the first homes available in Levittown, NJ with $100 down in June 1958 and were one of the first 25 families to move in.  Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/levittown-long-island-1435787.  William Levitt, who assumed control of Levitt & Sons in 1954, is considered the father of modern suburbia in the United States. House prices ranged from $11,500 to $14,500 -- virtually ensuring that most of the residents were of somewhat equal socioeconomic status (Gans found that family composition, and not price, affected the choice of the three or four bedrooms). What I mean is color, and underlining! The Levitts certainly did not invent the business of building suburbs, but in many ways, they perfected it. Gans felt that the market, and not professional planners, should dictate development. Yes, I know ALL about the risks, and the dangers, and the health issues its associated with, and the cover-ups by the companies who dealt with it in their products. As their income grew, so did the additions to the house! Brown v Board of Education and the nationwide racial integration that followed hardly touched Levittown, and even today its demographic profile still reads 94.15% white. Levittown proved successful. His hands were not tied. William's two most trusted friends; Alfred and Henry Trost, both architects who shared his vision of mass producing houses, joined him in this venture. 14, 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. Levittown <NY> Architects and . I have no insight into how much the Levitts lacked freedom to choose their discrimination policies. Facts and kindness get points across more effectively without insults, assumptions & unqualified anger. Director Giorgio Angelini talks with MetroFocus about homeownership and the creation of a permanent American underclass beginning with the postwar suburban development of Levittown. With his brother, Alfred, who was an architect, he designed a small one-floor house with an unfinished "expansion attic" that could be rapidly constructed and as rapidly rented to returning GIs and their young families. When our family drove around looking at the variety of styles I noticed the workers. By 1950, when 80% of Levittowns men commuted to jobs in Manhattan, the development had set an example for countless American bedroom communities still to come. My family moved into our Levittown home in 1952. In 1946 the Levitt company acquired 4,000 acres of potato fields in Hempstead and began to build not just the largest single development by a single builder but what would be the country's largest housing development ever. The community was partitioned into four master block areas, which in turn were divided into smaller neighborhood sections of between 300-500 houses. This is an open forum; my views may be different from yours. You put your dry dirty laundry in, and later took your dry CLEAN laundry out! SEVEN THOUSAND BUCKS! All for $5,000. Some sections of American society found entrance to the scheme impossible. We are manufacturers. He even went so far as to declare his company the General Motors of the housing industry, providing families the domestic component of the American dream, just as GM provided them the vehicular one. You are not here to police all posts and assure they are all in sync with yours. 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. I have no doubt plenty of people in those communities had no issues with that clause. Let it be. Two bedrooms, 12x12 and 12x8; a living room 12x19; a kitchen 9.5x10.5; and bathroom. 6 To many of those families, the Levittowns in Long Island, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were the answer to their prayers. Which other buildings in the world tell stories about urban history? Since there was discrimination there would be no need to put in a contract not to sell to blacks or non whites, since they couldnt get loans anyway. You work so hard to prove my point. As historian Jackson has written, For perhaps the first time, the federal government embraced the discriminatory attitudes of the marketplace. Not all communities replicated the racial tensions of Levittown, however. Ask again in 25 years.". I was an architect and planner with the firm in the early 60s and know whereof I speak: 1. The yards were still dirt and the streets were cement and the construction workers were still constructing homes in nearby neighborhoods.  They believed that potential white buyers would not want to buy a house in Levittown if they were aware they would have black neighbors. 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. Bill Levitt only sold houses to white buyers, excluding African Americans from buying houses in his communities even after. Think about the options: publicly financed high rise housing, most of which was imploded three or four decades after they were built? You can find out more about our use, change your default settings, and withdraw your consent at any time with effect for the future by visiting Cookies Settings, which can also be found in the footer of the site. This necessitated negotiating a change in the building code which, prior to the building of this community, did not permit concrete slabs. Asbestos was absolutely fireproof, didnt rot, didnt decay, and lasted longer than any other material except slate, of course. ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/levittown-long-island-1435787. 2 were here. Levittown has been lauded for offering the American dream of homeownership, and derided as a model of suburban monotony and intolerance. "A History of the Levittown Housing Developments." Even years later, I never heard either of my parents mention the policy of segregation in the community. His mass production of thousands of houses at virtually the same time allowed Levitt to sell them, with kitchens fully stocked with modern appliances, and a television in the living room, for as little as $8,000 each (equal to $97,085 today), which, with the G.I. Wohnungspolitik. Hands tied? Ive observed outward anger in your posts. My parents did not discuss terms of their mortgage with their children; when we were children or adults. (brief history of William Levitt's Levittowns)", "The Baby Boom and the Age of the Subdivision", "At 50, Levittown Contends With Its Legacy of Bias", "The Ecclesiastical History of the Levittown People ", "Levittown: Documents of an Ideal American Suburb", "Fort Lauderdale-based home builder Levitt & Sons files for bankruptcy", "PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University", "Interactive Map | USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map", "CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING (17902000)", "Levittown: Race and Hispanic or Latino Origin 2010 table", "US Dept of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics", "New York Chiropractic College Levittown Center", "WLVAC - Wantagh-Levittown Volunteer Ambulance Corps", "Hot Band: Brand New, When is emo worth a million dollars? 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. 7 They divided the construction of each home into twenty-seven steps starting with the laying of a concrete base. 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. Local high school teacher Gene Horowitz wrote the 1980 novel. Rah! Cheerleader for asbestos without being aware of its dangers.  The Federal Housing Administration allowed developers to justify segregation within public housing. As a result, American veterans who wished to purchase a home in Levittown were unable to do so if they were black. Palette Architecture Architects Serves Levittown, New York (15) PALETTE ARCHITECTURE is a full-service design and architecture practice. Remodeler Software Estimating. 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. So, his exposure levels were lower by far than my uncles. Ive lost one uncle, about 10 years ago, from asbestosis, who worked in the fabric mills in the mid-50s, 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. By 1951, it and surrounding regions included 17,447 homes constructed by Levitt & Sons. An aunt and uncle stayed in their 1948 VA financed Levittown home until moving to Assisted Living at age 90.  Only well after the 1954 racial integration decisions, including Brown v. Board of Education, was Levittown racially integrated, and even as late as the 1990 census only a tiny fraction of the community was non-white, a condition that still exists. Levittown. In 1952, Carl T. Sigman, who was running as the Democratic candidate for County Executive, stated that he felt it would be wise for Levittown to incorporate itself as a city. 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 wasnt on a Sunday! Babysit, drive someone somewhere, maybe help out with a mortgage payment someone couldnt meet. Not only did the first generation of Levittown life have its communitarian aspects, it had actual regulations, such as Levitts insistence that no homeowner fence off a private yard from the shared green, that now seem at least faintly socialist. They built as much of the house that they could off-site in carpentry and other shops. The New Jersey version offered three different house types, including both a three and four bedroom model. 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. How . There was a tradeoff, which these comments have ignored. (modern). Why do you have a problem with questions? The HOLC later implemented a system of rating neighborhoods with letter grades to help more systematically discern property values. South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine's Press. Gans defends Levittown to the critics of suburbia: By the year 2000, Gans was the Robert Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. The Levitts homes were affordable, planted in a picture-perfect, carefully controlled community, and were equipped with futuristic stoves and television sets. I remember when a black family wanted to move in , someone went around with a petition and my dad would not sign it. Some historians have postulated that after two world warsboth with staggering death tollsfollowed by the uncertainty of the Cold War nuclear age, American families found stability and protection within the suburban home. A petition for what? ", Such discriminatory housing standards were consistent with government policies of the time. " The Levitts explained that they would open up applications to blacks after they had sold as many homes to white people as possible. The racial makeup of the CDP was 90% White, 5.7% Asian, 0.8% Black, 0.1% Native American, and 0.02% Pacific Islander. See the top reviewed local architects and building designers in Levittown, PA on Houzz. In later years and when they sold in 1966 after I had finished high school, no one mentioned it. On the other hand, they paid their workers very well and offered all kinds of incentives that allowed them to earn extra money, so that they often could earn twice as much a week as elsewhere. 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. The company explained that it was not possible to reduce racial segregation while they were attempting to reduce the housing shortage. 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. Art & Architecture | Levittown, Street scenes, Long island ny Explore Travel Travel Destinations North America Travel Save From american1950s.weebly.com Art & Architecture 1950 American Architecture | 1950's art & architecture P Dalton Loveless 927 followers More information 1950 American Architecture | 1950's art & architecture 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. Richard Yates, whose novel Revolutionary Road offers a harrowing indictment of American life during Levittowns heyday, wrote of that eras general lust for conformity, a blind, desperate clinging to safety and security at any price, as exemplified politically in the Eisenhower administration and the McCarthy witch hunts. , There have been multiple proposals in the past to incorporate Levittown either as a village or as the third city in Nassau County. They are stories important to everyone." All that with 50 lots. 2023 U.S. History Scene, all rights reserved. , As the first and one of the largest mass-produced suburbs, Levittown quickly became a symbol of postwar suburbia. I never said you Shari do not know about the risks of asbestos. Rosenberg, Matt. A variety of non-union subcontractors and unskilled workers moved from house to house, each performing one of 26 highly specialised steps in the overall assembly process all using thoroughly standardised materials, all purchased directly from their manufacturers. By including closets now do you mean closets to hang your clothing in? Yes, I know all about that stuff. I dont assume. The Levitts built slightly more than 17,300 homes of only six different models between 1952 and 1958 in this second Levittown. This postwar housing projects mass-produced homes still stand as something more complicated than a monument to the glory or bland conformity of the American dream. As is true all over the country. 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. 3, Despite Jeffersons vision, cities in the U.S. formed and flourished. Best 15 Architects, Architecture Firms, & Building Designers in Levittown, NY | Houzz Kitchen Living Room Family Room Sunroom Bed & Bath Bathroom Powder Room Bedroom Storage & Closet Baby & Kids Utility Laundry Garage Mudroom Outdoor Landscape Patio Deck Pool Backyard Porch Exterior Outdoor Kitchen Front Yard Driveway Poolhouse Takeoff Software. But this proud Levitt owner, looking back on what seems like a quintessentially American exercise in individualism, also remembers that there wasnt anything we wouldnt do for each other. We were the pioneers.. 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 werent strictly segregated. Levitt & Sons built the community with an eye towards speed, efficiency, and cost-effective construction; these methods led to a production rate of 30 houses a day by July 1948.  The hardiness zone is borderline between 7a and 7b, meaning that the average annual absolute minimum temperature is approximately 5F (15C). If so, what have they been using up until now? , Previously, locals had proposed incorporating their hamlet as a village. Reading comprehension work on that, will ya? The Levittown Union Free School District, which also serves North Wantagh and the northern portion of Seaford, has two high schools: Division Avenue and General Douglas MacArthur, one career and technical institute: Gerald R. Claps Career & Technical Center, two middle schools: Wisdom Lane and Jonas Salk, and six elementary schools: Abbey Lane, East Broadway, Gardiners Avenue, Lee Road, Northside, and Summit Lane. Even the FHA, AND THE VA LOANS sources required it. All models freely adapted ideas from Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian vision natural lighting, open and expandable floor plans, and the merging of exterior and interior spaces. In the community, the population was spread out, with 25.7% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females, there were 94.6 males. The Levitt family began and perfected their home construction techniques during World War II with contracts to build housing for the military on the East Coast. Custom Website Estimating. All rights reserved. Banks, savings and loans, etc., and so forth, would not have written mortgage #1 for any buyer of color, and whites wouldnt have set foot on the grounds for fear that they would. Jones, Michael E. (2004) "The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing". Oddly enough, although Levittown is remembered largely for its homogeneity, the majority of houses in Levittown have by now been so thoroughly expanded and modified by their owners that their original architectural form can be somewhat difficult to see; however, with diligent observation, several original examples can still be seen today. The actual Levitt built development sprawls over three other postal zones, Wantagh NY (11793) and Westbury, NY (11590) in the Town of Hempstead, and Hicksville, NY (11801) in the Town of Oyster Bay. Private schools include the Maria Montessori School, The Progressive School of Long Island, and the South Shore Christian Elementary and Secondary School located in the former Geneva M Gallow Elementary School building. p.138, Gotham, Kevin Fox (Summer 2000) "Racialization and the State: The Housing Act of 1934 and the Creation of the Federal Housing Administration,", "When the Niggers Moved into Levittown: a review of David Kushner's. As of the 2010 census, the CDP had a total population of 51,881, making it the most populous CDP in Nassau County and the second most populous CDP on Long Island, behind only Brentwood. Levittown, New Jersey became widely known due to a famous sociological study of one man -- Dr. Herbert Gans. The resulting surge in demand pressed the firm to further expand its development, which changed its name from Island Trees to Levittown shortly thereafter. 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. The median age was 37 years. Levittown served a purpose in providing affordable housing for returning veterans . We are not builders, said straight-talking Levitt, the operations mastermind. This included framing innovations that anticipated the hurricane code standards required decades later. Levittown, NJ consisted of a total of 12,000 homes, divided into ten neighborhoods. Although "None of this is set in concrete," according to Yeingst, "the Levittown house would be dismantled at the site, transported to Washington and reconstructed. 9. But the legacy of the suburbs that Levittown embodied was not simple, as shown by the struggle of the Myers. Levittown is the name of several large suburban housing developments created in the United States (including one in Puerto Rico) by William J. Levitt and his company Levitt & Sons. Additionally, Levitt & Sons' designs are featured prominently in the older portion of Buffalo Grove, Illinois; Vernon Hills, Illinois; Willingboro Township, New Jersey; the Belair section of Bowie, Maryland; and the Greenbriar section of Fairfax, Virginia. It is enlightening to see that in the late 1950s, government agencies such as Willingboro Township were trying to fight developers and citizens alike to build traditional livable communities.  Before the sale of Levittown homes began, the sales agents were aware that no applications from black families would be accepted. Senator Joseph McCarthy himself called public housing projects breeding ground[s] for communists. 11, The Levitts and McCarthy joined forces in promoting Levittown as a more American, capitalist alternative to public housing solutions.