In 1947, William Levitt of Levitt & Sons began building mass-produced, affordable housing for veterans returning from World War II. Island Trees, or Levittown as it later became known, is widely recognized as the first modern American suburb.
Families started moving into the new homes on Oct. 1, 1947. While the original homes sold for just $7,990 in 1949, the median price of a Levitt home today is $400,000, according to Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.
While Levittown quickly became a microcosm of the new standard for suburban housing developments in the United States following the end of the war, some issues persisted.
A clause in the original town covenant prevented tenants from allowing anyone but Caucasians to use or occupy a Levitt home. The practice had become commonplace in housing developments nationwide after a 1926 Supreme Court ruling upheld them. Stuyvesant Town and Parkchester in New York City, for example, were also originally built exclusively for whites.
The clause was struck from Levittown's covenant in 1948, when the Supreme Court ruled that racially restrictive covenants were in violation of the 14th Amendment.
While the hamlet originated solely as a place for the families of returning American soldiers, currently 2,550 veterans live in Levittown out of a total of more than 51,000 residents, according to the latest U.S. census data.