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Levittown people: Robert Koenig

Robert Koenig, a member of the Levittown Historical

Robert Koenig, a member of the Levittown Historical Society, moved to Levittown in 2002. (March 15, 2012) (Credit: Erin Geismar)

Robert Koenig
Community associations: Levittown Community Council, Levittown Historical Society, Levittown Property Owners Association

You’re a Levittown transplant. When and why did you move here?
I was born and raised in Mineola, so not too far away. But Mineola and Levittown are two different things.
I worked in Levittown in the early '80s. I just liked it; there’s something unique about it. Even when you go down Hempstead Turnpike it has a different feeling than other areas. And of course, the way the roads wind and the unique houses. With me, a part of it might be the architecture. I always liked the old the Levitt ranch houses.
I have a degree in pop culture, and I’ve studied all different things, whether music or restaurants or even cereal companies - there was something about the suburban experience that people seemed to write a lot about. And that was all on display in Levittown. Especially when you deal with popular culture from the '50s and '60s. Obviously now, it’s not that time, several decades have passed and yet when you come home to your Levitt house and you see the way even the streets are, you get a feeling you’re in Pleasantville, like somehow you’re coming back home to that particular time. I‘m sure not everybody feels that way but that was the sense that I felt about it.

How long have you lived here?
Not that long ago in the scope of things. I moved here in 2002, so only 10 years. But I’ve been with the [historical] society for 15 years. So I was coming back and forth for different things way before that.

Now that you do live here, what do you like about it?
I like seeing the families, the fact that there’s still a lot of kids. It’s a child-positive town. I like the patriotism, you’ll see a lot of flags. I love the Memorial Day parade every year, that’s a great thing. We have a good library system, we have a good school system, and people get involved. There are so many different groups.
We do have free spaces that you can walk around and you don’t feel confined or trapped. There’s just something different about it. It feels like a pop culture, suburban town, like you live next door to the Brady Bunch or something like that.

Do you think it still holds on to that 1950s charm?
I feel it still has some of that. I think it’s still a good place for people to start off. And this community has reached out and there are all different types of people that live in Levittown now. It isn’t just one type of family.

What challenges does the community face?
Our neighboring town Hicksville has an industrial area that they get tax income from. We don’t have that here. We have businesses in village greens and Hempstead Turnpike, but if you go down Hempstead Turnpike today there are quiet a few vacancies. And that’s sad. When we first moved to Levittown someone told my wife, you won’t have to leave for anything. Any kind of store you could want is in Levittown. And unfortunately, I think that’s not the case and a lot of people do not shop local. The malls attract people. They become a utopia of their own and are not really part of the community. It would be nice if it became more like what it once was with the village greens.

Define the character of Levittown:
Suburbanites. TV-land. A nice place to start a family.

Tags: Levittown

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