- Levittown, New York
official_name = Levittown, New York
settlement_type = CDP
mapsize = 250px
map_caption = U.S. Census Map
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Nassau
area_total_km2 = 17.8
area_land_km2 = 17.8
area_water_km2 = 0.0
area_total_sq_mi = 6.9
area_land_sq_mi = 6.9
area_water_sq_mi = 0.0
population_as_of = 2000
population_total = 53067
population_density_km2 = 2979.7
population_density_sq_mi = 7717.5
timezone = Eastern (EST)
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
elevation_m = 25
elevation_ft = 82
latd = 40 |latm = 43 |lats = 28 |latNS = N
longd = 73 |longm = 30 |longs = 40 |longEW = W
suburbof New York City, is a hamlet in the Town of Hempsteadlocated on Long Islandin Nassau County, New York. Levittown is mid way between the villages of Hempsteadand Farmingdale. As of the 2000 census, the community had a total population of 53,067.
Levittown gets its name from its builder, the firm of Levitt & Sons, Inc., which built it as a
planned communitybetween 1947 and 1951. Levittown was the first truly mass-produced suburband is widely regarded as the archetype for postwar suburbs throughout the country.
The building firm, Levitt and Sons, headed by
Abraham Levittand his two sons, William and Alfred, built four planned communities called "Levittown" (in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Puerto Rico), but Levittown, New York was the first and most famous. Levitt and Sons designs are prevalent in the older portion of Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
Levittown was built on what used to be potato farms in an area previously known as Island Trees. On May 7, 1947, Levitt and Sons publicly announced their plan to build 2,000 mass-produced rental homes for veterans on their Island Trees land. Two days later, the "
New York Herald Tribune" reported that 1,000 of the 2,000 proposed homes had already been rented. Levittown, as the new development would eventually be named, was off to a booming start.
To build their homes cheaply and quickly, Levitt and Sons wanted to eliminate basements and build on concrete slabs instead, as they had in
Norfolk, Virginia. This practice was prohibited in the Town of Hempsteadbut, because the need for housing was so urgent, the Town modified their building code to allow the Levitts to proceed with their own plan.
Levitt and Sons used many of the building methods they had used over the years in previous developments but reorganized these methods for even better efficiency and cost savings. All the lumber was precut and shipped from a lumber yard they owned in
Blue Lake, Californiawhere they erected a nail factory as well. An abandoned rail line was re-opened to bring construction materials to Island Trees. To keep costs down, non-union contractors were used, though this was met with heavy opposition. The production line technique used to build this new development was so successful that, by July 1948, the Levitts were turning out 30 houses a day.
Even at this pace, the Levitts couldn't keep up with the demand. Although all 2,000 homes had been rented almost immediately, hundreds of veterans were still applying, so the Levitts decided to build an additional 4,000 houses. The community soon had its own schools, its own postal delivery, even phone service and streetlights.
In 1949, Levitt and Sons discontinued building rental houses and turned their attention to building a larger, more modern house, which they called a "ranch" and which they would sell for $7,990. All a prospective buyer needed was a $90 deposit and payments of $58 per month. The Levitt ranch measured convert|32|ft|m|1 by convert|25|ft|m|1 and came in five different models, differing only by exterior color, roof line, and the placement of windows. Like previous Levitt homes, the ranch was built on a concrete slab with hot-water
radiant heatingpipes, had no garage, and came with an expandable attic. The kitchen was outfitted with a General Electricstove and refrigerator, stainless steel sink and cabinets, the latest Bendix washer, and a York oil burner. Immediately, the demand for the new Levitt ranches was so overwhelming that even the procedure for purchasing them had to be modified to incorporate "assembly line" methods. Once these techniques were put into action, a buyer could choose a house and sign a contract for it within three minutes.
So great and so far-reaching was the success of the Levittown community that on July 3, 1950 William Levitt was featured on the front cover of "Time" magazine. This success continued throughout 1950 and 1951, by which time the Levitts had constructed 17,447 homes in Levittown and the immediate surrounding areas. As the GI homeowners settled into well-paying jobs and began to spawn families, the Levitt models and the surrounding community were modified to suit the needs of growing families. 1950 ranches came with a carport and a 12-1/2 inch Admiral TV set built into the living room staircase. The 1951 model included a partially finished attic. "Thousand Lanes", a magazine devoted to the decorating, expanding, and remodeling of Levitt homes became a must-have for Levittown residents. Shopping centers, playgrounds, and a $250,000 community center sprang up to accommodate Levittown's active residents.
As the second (The first was Oliver Rousseau and David Bohannon who planned a community in San Lorenzo, CA) and one of the largest mass-produced suburbs, Levittown quickly became a symbol of postwar suburbia, for good and for bad. Although Levittown provided affordable houses in what many residents felt to be a congenial community, critics damned its homogeneity, blandness, and racial exclusivity (the initial lease prohibited rental to non-whites). Today, "Levittown" is used as a term of derogation to describe overly-sanitized suburbs consisting largely of tract housing. Oddly enough, although Levittown is remembered largely for its homogeneity and conformism, the houses of Levittown have by now been so thoroughly expanded and modified by their owners that their original architectural form can be quite difficult to see.
Levittown has become so ingrained in American culture that the
Smithsonian Institutionin Washington would like to put on display an entire Levittown house. Bill Yeingst, a historian with Smithsonian's National Museum of American History Domestic Life Division [cite web
title=NMAH | William H. Yeingst
accessdate=2008-10-08] said "An original ranch model would be ideal. We would like someone to donate their Levittown house, or we would like to find a donor to provide the funds so that we could secure a Levittown house." He noted that "The stories played out in suburban Levittown are the stories of America. They are stories important to everyone." Although "None of this is set in concrete," according to Mr. Yeingst, "the Levittown house would be dismantled at the site, transported to Washington and reconstructed. Then it would exhibited along with other innovations in American home life." [cite news
title=LONG ISLAND JOURNAL - New York Times
publisher=New York Times Company Inc.
Levittown is located at 40°43'28" North, 73°30'40" West (40.724468, -73.511191)GR|1.
According to the
United States Census Bureau, the community has a total area of 17.8 km² (6.9 mi²). 17.8 km² (6.9 mi²) of it is land and none of the area is covered with water.
As of the
censusGR|2 of 2000, there are 53,067 people, 17,207 households, and 14,109 families residing in the community. The population densityis 7,717.5 per square mile (2,978.1/km²). There are 17,410 housing units at an average density of 2,531.9/sq mi (977.0/km²). The racial makeup of the area is 94.15% White, 0.50% African American, 0.07% Native American, 2.85% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.27% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. 6.79% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
In the community the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 37 years. For every 100 females there are 94.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.4 males.
The median income for a household in the community is $69,923, and the median income for a family is $73,851. Males have a median income of $50,603 versus $35,962 for females. The
per capita incomefor the CDP is $25,917. 2.9% of the population and 2.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 3.6% of those under the age of 18 and 1.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Levittown is served by two "Union Free" public school districts, Island Trees with 2,851 students and Levittown with 7,987 students. [cite web
title=Long Island real estate, Levittown, Nassau County, NY, homes for sale, Levittown, Long Island, community profile, photos, schools, buyers guide
Island Trees Union Free School Districtserves eastern Levittown as well as portions of adjacent Bethpage, Plainedge and Seaford and hosts Island Trees High School, Island Trees Memorial Middle School, Michael F. Stokes Elementary Schooland J Fred Sparke Elementary School cite web|url= http://nces.ed.gov/|title=US Dept of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics|accessdate=2008-10-07]
In 1982 Island Trees gained national attention from the United States Supreme Court case "Board of Education v. Pico". The case determined that students' first amendment rights were violated when the school board removed several books it found objectionable from the high school's library. cite web|url=http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=457&page=853|title=Findlaw Cases and Codes|accessdate=2008-10-03]
Levittown Union Free School District, which also includes parts of Seaford and Wantagh, has two high schools: Division Avenue and General Douglas MacArthur, two middle schools: Wisdom Lane and Jonas Salk and six elementary schools: Abbey Lane, East Broadway, Gardiners Avenue, Lee Road, Northside and Summit Lane. The Levittown School District dates back to the 1800s originally called the Jerusalem School District of the Town of Hempstead.
Private schools include the Maria Montessori School, Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism, and the South Shore Christian Elementary and Secondary School located in the former Geneva M Gallow Elementary School building.cite web|url=http://www.kemphannon.com/Levitt%20Comm%20Page.htm|title=Senator Hannon's Guide to Levittow|accessdate=2008-10-07] Vocational schools available are the Brittany Beauty School, Hunter Business School and the
New York Chiropractic College.cite web|url=http://www.nycchealthcenters.com/Levit_Home.htm/|title=New York Chiropractic College Levittown Center |accessdate=2008-10-07]
While there is no passenger train operation in Levittown, the
Long Island Railroadprovides service from the Hicksville station, which serves the Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma Branches, and the Wantagh station on the Montauk-Babylon branch. Both lines run east-west between New York's Pennsylvania Station and points east on Long Island.cite web |url=http://mta.info/lirr/|title=MTA Long Island Rail Road|accessdate=2008-10-05]
Ambulance:The Wantagh-Levittown Volunteer Ambulance Corps provides
paramediclevel of care.cite web |url=http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/ems/counties/nassau.htm |title=New York State Dept of Health|accessdate=2008-10-07]
Fire:Levittown is protected by three
volunteer fire departments, the Levittown Fire Departmentwith 231 members operating out of 3 stations, Station 3 of the East Meadow Fire Departmentwhich covers portions of Levittown west of Division Avenue and Station 2 of the Wantagh Fire Departmentwhich serves portions of Levittown South of Abbey Lane School. [cite web
title=Land Record Viewer
Police:Levittown is patrolled by the eighth precinct of the
Nassau County Police Departmentcite web|title = Patrol Division Nassau County Police| url=http://www.police.co.nassau.ny.us/8th_pct.htm |accessdate = 2008-10-07 ]
Has one main
USPSPost Office located at 180 Gardiners Ave.
* Jon Buller, children's book author and illustratorcite web |url=http://www.bullersooz.com/Roxanne.html|title=DVE-TV Interview with Roxanne Kimble|accessdate=2008-10-04]
Kevin Covais, 2006 American Idol finalistcite news|last=Padgett|first=Tania |title =Local fans are singing Kevin's praises|url=http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/printedition/ny-p2idol4670221mar22,0,3250546.story?track=mostemailedlink |work=Newsday|publisher = Newsday Inc.|location = Melville, NY|date=2006-03-22|accessdate = 2008-10-04 ]
Keelin Curnuck, Miss New York1996, competed in the Miss U.S.A. Pageant cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE2DE103EF937A15753C1A961958260|title=FILM REVIEW; Levittown, Cut Down By Ridicule|accessdate=2007-07-07 ]
John A. Gambling, morning radio host on WOR 710
Ellie Greenwich, "Brill Building" pop composercite web|title = It Came From Levittown| url=http://www.newsday.com/community/guide/lihistory/ny-levittown-hslevpop,0,393870.story|work = Newsday|publisher = Newsday Inc. | location = Melville, NY |accessdate = 2008-10-04 ]
Bill Griffithcartoonist Zippy the Pinhead
Peter Gruenwald, 1978 Lufthansa heistconspiratorcite news|first = Leslie |last = Maitla |title=Lufthansa Trial Witness Tells of an Earlier Theft; Ideal Hour Selected
url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F3071FFF3F5D12728DDDA00894DD405B898BF1D3&scp=2&sq=levittown%20Peter%20Gruenwald&st=cse| work = New York Times | publisher = New York Times Company | location = New York, NY | date = 1979-05-09
accessdate = 2008-10-04 ]
Billy Joel, singer/songwriter, grew up in Levitt built section of Hicksville, New Yorkcite news | first = Michael | last = Larkin |title = Hicksville or Levittown? For Billy Joel, the Truth Lies on the Border | url=http://www.antonnews.comhicksvilleillustratednews/1999/08/13/news/| work = Hicksville Illustrated News | publisher = Anton Community Newspapers | location = Mineola, NY | date = 1999-08-13 | accessdate = 2008-10-01 ]
Brian Kilcommons, famous American dog trainer [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1189250,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-bottom Time magazine] He's a Dog's Best Friend, Sunday, Apr. 30, 2006 article by ANITA HAMILTON ]
Donnie Klang, hip-hop singer cite news | first = Glenn | last = Gamboa |title = Donnie Klang of Levittown gets a push from Diddy | url=http://www.newsday.com/community/guide/lihistory/ny-starring_li_pop,1,4835386,full.story| work = Newsday|publisher = Newsday Inc. | location = Melville, NY |accessdate = 2008-10-04 ]
Brand Newband members Jesse Lacey, Vin Accardi, Brian Lane and Garrett Tierney cite news | first = Jenny| last = Eliscu|title = Hot Band: Brand New, When is emo worth a million dollars? When it's made by these guys | url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/brandnew/articles/story/5938668/hot_band_brand_new| work = Rolling Stone Magazine | publisher = Rolling Stone L.L.C. | location = New York, NY | date = 2003-09-10 | accessdate = 2008-10-04 ]
Eddie Money, musician of "Two Tickets to Paradise" fame attended Island Trees High School though he lived in adjacent Plainedge, New Yorkcite news | first = Letta | last = Tayler |title = Sounding Off in Suburbia | url=http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/music/ny-ffmus5818719aug31a,0,2659580.story| work = Newsday|publisher = Newsday Inc. | location = Melville, NY |accessdate = 2008-10-04 ]
Sterling Morrison, guitarist with The Velvet Underground
Bill O'Reilly, political commentator, grew up in Levitt built section of Westbury, New Yorkcite web|url=http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,155,00.html|title=Bill O'Reilly's Bio |work=FoxNews.com|accessdate=2007-10-04]
Maureen Tucker, drummer for the Velvet Undergroundcite web |url=http://www.emusic.com/features/spotlight/277_200506.html|title=Sticking With You|accessdate=2008-10-04 |last=Powers |first=Ann|date=2005-06-01|work=eMusic.com]
In the media
* The 1954 Levittown documentary "A City Is Born" featured an interview with creator William J. Levitt, aerial views of the development, and a 45-second time-lapse sequence showing one of the houses being constructed.cite web|url=http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20020726_levittown.htm|title=Housing's Historic Levittown Turns 50 - Realty Times|accessdate=2008-01-06]
* In the 1960 musical, "Little Shop of Horrors", Audrey, the slum dwelling heroine, dreams of home "In a green place" -- "Nothing as fancy as Levittown."
* In 1962, singing comedian Allan Sherman (famous for his novelty hit of life at summer camp, "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah") poked fun in his album "My Son, the Folk Singer" with a parody of Harry Belafonte's "Jamaica Farewell": "I'm upside down. My head is turning around. Cause I've got to sell the house, in Levittown."
*"The Lockhorns of Levittown" -- later simply "The Lockhorns" -- sprang from the pen of cartoonist Bill Hoest on newspaper funny pages in 1968. A graduate of Cooper Union in Manhattan, Hoest moved to Long Island, where he created the suburban couple Leroy, tippling girl watcher, and Lorretta, wisecracking roast burner. The strip lived on when John Reiner and Hoest's widow, Bunny, took over after Hoest's death in 1988.
*"Former high school teacher Gene Horowitz bodice-ripping 1980 novel, "The Ladies of Levittown," [cite book | last = Horowitz | first = Gene | title = The Ladies of Levittown: a Novel | publisher = R. Marek | location = New York | year = 1980 | isbn = 0399900764 | oclc = 5676402 ] featured a titillating account of America's most famous suburb, scandalizing many residents, who recognized their own lives depicted in the pages. The saga - taking place between 1947 and 1978 - pushes back the drapes, offering insight into the passions and disappointments of middle-class women as they struggle to reconcile their relationships with husbands, lovers and children."
* 1985 W. D. Wetherell published short story, "The Man Who Loved Levittown", in a collection of the same name. [cite book | last = Wetherell | first = W. | title = The Man Who Loved Levittown | publisher = University of Pittsburgh Press | location = Pittsburgh | year = 1985 | isbn = 0822935201 | oclc = 11866793 ] The "The Library Journal" reviewed the story (an O'Henry prizewinner) as "a World War II vet buys a house in Levittown where he spends the best years of his life. His wife has died, his grown children have left, and one by one his neighbors are selling out and moving to Florida. Beneath the talky, narrative voice of this story you discover the internal logic of a man pushed beyond reason to a desperate act". [cite web|url=http://www.amazon.com/Loved-Levittown-Pitt-Heinz-Prize/dp/0822935201/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1223435894&sr=1-5|title=Amazon.com The Man Who Loved Levittown|accessdate=2008-10-07 ]
* Stewart Bird's 1994 documentary "Building The American Dream: Levittown, NY" explores Levitt's vision of rapidly constructing inexpensive tract homes, featuring rare archival footage and photos, an interview with Levitt and the reminiscences of numerous Levittown residents (including singer
Billy Joel). [cite web
October 24, 1997, "Wonderland", a satirical documentary about Levittown (produced and directed by John O'Hagan) premiered at TriBeCa. A New York Times review described it as follows: "The collective picture that emerges suggests a smug city slicker's condescending view of what could be almost any American small town."cite web|url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120529/|title=Wonderland IMDb|accessdate=2007-07-07]
*In 2003 Helen Harvey published a remembrance "Eating Corn through a Picket Fence" of which she writes "My mom and dad were Veterans of WWII. I consider myself a veteran of having lived with them. Levittown was a community of veterans where we all soothed our pains with sex, drugs and rock and roll." [cite book | last = Harvey | first = Helen | title = Eating Corn through a Picket Fence | publisher = Xlibris Corporation | location = S.L. | year = 2003 | isbn = 9781413402643 ]
*Anna Shapiro published a 2006 teen oriented book "Living on Air". It's described by the publisher as about "Maude Pugh...(who)...was raised in Levittown, Long Island. By the time she attended high school she concluded her parents were colossal failures who hid in a community in which all exterior houses were identical to one another." [ cite book | last = Shapiro | first = Anna | title = Living on Air | publisher = Soho Press | location = New York | year = 2006 | isbn = 9781569474310 ]
*In 2006 Marc Palmieri's play "Levittown" [cite book | last = Palmieri | first = Marc | title = Levittown | publisher = Dramatists Play Service | location = New York | year = 2007 | isbn = 0822221896 | oclc = 163577211 ] was performed at the Axis Theater in New York. As reviewed by the Village Voice: "We don't typically quibble with Leo Tolstoy, but are unhappy families really so different? Or are they rather like the endless rows of postwar homes that William Levitt built on Long Island?" " [cite web|url=http://www.villagevoice.com/2006-06-27/theater/levitt-or-leave-it/|title=Levitt or Leave It - Theater - Village Voice|accessdate=2008-10-07]
* On Friday, November 9, 2007, Levitt and Sons of Fort Lauderdale became the nation's largest builder to file for bankruptcy as the housing market boom of the early 2000s continued to crumble. [http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/sfl-1109levitt,0,2805432.story?track=rss Fort Lauderdale-based home builder Levitt and Sons files for bankruptcy]
Levittown, Puerto Rico
Willingboro Township, New Jersey- another Levittown which has since reverted to its original name
*cite book | author=Baxandall, Rosalyn and Elizabeth Ewen | title=Picture Windows: How the Suburbs Happened | location=New York | publisher=Basic Books | year=2000 | isbn=0-465-07013-2 | oclc=43303145
*cite book | last = Conrad | first = Pam | title = Our House | publisher = Scholastic | location = New York | year = 1995 | isbn = 0590465236 | oclc = 31739731
*cite book | last = Duncan | first = Susan | title = Levittown: the Way We Were | publisher = Maple Hill Press | location = Huntington | year = 1999 | isbn = 0930545184 | oclc = 42383186
*cite book | last = Ferrer | first = Margaret | title = Levittown, the First 50 Years | publisher = Arcadia | location = Charleston | year = 1997 | isbn = 0752404652 | oclc = 36910278
*cite book | author=Kelly, Barbara Mae | title=Expanding the American Dream: Building and Rebuilding Levittown | location=Albany | publisher=State University of New York Press | year=1993 | isbn=0-7914-1287-3 | oclc=25094119
*cite book | last = Lundrigan | first = Margaret | title = Levittown, NY Volume Two | publisher = Arcadia Publishing (SC) | location = City | year = 1999 | isbn = 0752409824 | oclc = 42383070
*cite book | last = Thompson | first = Gare | title = A Suburban Community of the 1950s | publisher = National Geographic Society | location = Washington | year = 2002 | isbn = 079228691X | oclc = 50770960
* [http://tigger.uic.edu/~pbhales/Levittown/ Levittown: Documents of an Ideal American Suburb] Peter Bacon Hales, Art History Department, University of Illinois at Chicago
* [http://www.levittownhistoricalsociety.org/ Levittown Historical Society]
* [http://www.freeenterpriseland.com/BOOK/LITTLEBOXES.html Little Boxes, Little Boxes: The Levittown Story] from FreeEnterpriseLand.com
*Cite web |url=http://www.historynet.com/levittown-the-archetype-for-suburban-development.htm
title=Levittown: The Archetype for Suburban Development
publisher=via HistoryNet from Weider History Group
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