Levittown, New York
As the end of World War II came to a close and GI's returned home the United States faced a housing shortage. With mortgages underwritten by the Federal Housing Administration and the GI bill, builders William and Alfred Levitt broke ground in 1947 on the first of 17,000 homes to be built on 1,000 acres of a potato farm on Long Island, New York, a short 25 miles east of Manhattan.
My father was born on September 29, 1950 to a GI and his wife living in Levittown’s Hicksville neighborhood. The town is considered to be the first mass-produced suburb in the world, setting the stage for many other postwar suburbs throughout the United States.
Levittown is comprised of two types of houses, a Cape Cod and a Ranch. There are four different façades of the Ranch houses while the Cape Cod homes only have slight differences in design, often appearing identical. Each original 1950 ranch house came built with a two-way fireplace between the kitchen and living room, a window-wall facing the yard, washing machine, one bath, two bedrooms, and a staircase to an empty attic which was easily convertible to two additional bedrooms and a bath. There was also the option to push out the living room window-wall to create additional living space. Further, each house was sold with a weeping willow tree in the backyard and two crab apple trees in the front.
The rich community life that emerged here during the 50s and 60s has changed considerably over the past 75 years, but just off the Hempstead Turnpike one can still find the remains of these iconic American dream houses.
Photographed on 35mm black and white film.