Levittown history in photos
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.
Workers build the Long Island Motor Parkway on Hempstead Plains in Levittown, circa 1908, south of today's Bloomingdale Road. The road served as the location for the Vanderbilt Cup Raceway Parkway, which had its grandstand and reviewing stand in Levittown. The site of the Vanderbilt Cup was moved to Savannah, Ga., in 1911 due to safety concerns for residents.
From left, William, Abraham and Alfred Levitt in 1929. Levitt & Sons was founded in 1929. Before building affordable housing, the company focused on building communities in Rockville Centre and Manhasset. In 1941, a government contract for a 2,350-home community in Norfolk, Va., allowed the company to hone its mass-building techniques.
The Boos home in the early 1940s, prior to the construction of Levittown. Levitt & Sons purchased 4,000 acres of potato farms from the Town of Hempstead in 1946, which would later be used to build 17,447 Levitt homes between 1947-51. The land was relatively cheap because the potato fields had been affected by the Golden Nematode, an insect from Europe that destroyed much of the crops at the time.
Veterans of World War II and others line up in 1947 to be among the first who would rent the new homes planned on the Hempstead Plains by Levitt & Sons. Originally, William Levitt only allowed prospective buyers to rent homes for the price of $60 per month. However, beginning in 1949 the company switched to a purchase-only policy. Homes cost just $7,990 as a means to provide affordable housing to returning veterans.
A prospective homeowner takes photos of his future home site in this undated photo. Many residents, like Helen Van Syckle, moved into their Levitt homes without seeing their actual property. Van Syckle and her husband only saw a Levitt model home before placing their $100 deposit in 1949.
Several of the original Levittown homes are seen under construction in this undated Newsday photo. At the peak of production, Levitt & Son builders could construct 30 homes in a single day thanks to a uniform building process that was similar to Henry Ford's assembly line operation.
A concept drawing of a Levitt model home located on Hempstead Turnpike is shown in this undated photo. Ads for Levittown placed in New York City newspapers drew thousands of prospective buyers to Levittown in the hopes that they would be able to rent or purchase a home of their own.
Theodore and Patricia Bladykas, with their 14-month-old twin daugthers Patricia Ann and Betty Ann, move into their new home in Levittown on Oct. 1,1947. They were the first family to move into the Levitt housing. The homes, which sold for just $7,990, included appliances and an expandable attic.
On May 27, 1947, the Hempstead Town Board agreed to revise the building code, which permitted Levitt homes to be built without cellars. New Levittown resident Robert L. Brundage carries his wife over the threshold of their new house on Oct. 1, 1947.
New residents move into their homes in Levittown on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 1947.
Aug. 27, 1947
Sen. Joseph McCarthy, left, is shown the washing machine in an original Levitt home by William Levitt on Aug. 27, 1947.
New residents move into their Levittown homes in October of 1947.
Carol Caveglia sits on a swing in Levittown in 1948.
Prospective homebuyers wait to purchase a Levitt home on Aug. 15, 1949.
Robert Abrams, founder of the Levittown Tribune, at the paper's office in 1949.
The original Levitt homes consisted of a cellarless, four-room home with an expandable attic. Many residents said that their children would often wander into a neighbor's home by accident because all of the original Levitt homes were identical during the early years.
Joe and Helen Van Syckle stand on the front lawn of their home on Tanager Lane during their first summer in Levittown in 1950. The Van Syckles were the first family on their block to move into their home.
An aerial view of the newly constructed community of Levittown, with more than 10,000 homes, is seen on Feb. 25, 1950.
Levittown children perform in a dance rehearsal in 1950.
An aerial view of Levittown in 1950.
Bill Drugan spreads fertilizer on his lawn in Levittown on April 18, 1950.
Levittown resident Chris Joannides tunes a television set in his family's home on Feb. 24,1950.
This undated photo shows Slate Lane swimming pool, one of seven swimming pools provided to Levittown residents by Levitt & Sons.
Levittown residents Bill and Dorothy Drugan clean the windows of their home, with him tacking the job from the outside, on Dec. 18, 1950.
This photo shows the construction on a Levitt Ranch in 1951.
Night view of Levittown taken in 1951.
This undated photo shows Division Avenue School in Levittown while under construction. The school opened in 1948 and became a high school in 1955.
Heavy traffic in Levittown on Sept. 28, 1951.
This postcard features the founders of Levitt & Sons, with patriarch Abraham Levitt, center, and his sons William, left, and Alfred. An early aerial view of Levittown is in the background.
The Cotter house was plastered with signs in a last effort to prevent the eviction of the family from 26 Butternut Lane in Levittown on Dec. 1, 1953. The Cotters were the first African-American family to move to the subdivision. The Cotters hit a roadblock when their lease ran out and their landlord, Mid-Island Properties, refused to sell them the home or renew their lease. Cotter sued citing racial discrimination but the suit was initially lost in State Supreme Court.
William Cotter sits on a bench outside a sales office while a picket line parades past him at South Village Green in Levittown on Dec. 6, 1953. It wasn't long before the Cotters were back on Butternut Lane, living in a house sold to them by a sympathetic Brooklynite. The new home was next door to the previous one. In 1957, when the Cotters were reportedly one of three black families living in Levittown, Cynthia Cotter told Newsday that the family "never had any trouble" with neighbors.
Levittown cheerleaders pose for a photo in 1953.
The original Levittown Public Library, which was located in a storefront on the town's south village green, is seen in 1953.
Levittown children have a toy train race in this undated photo.
Third-graders from Gardiners Avenue School in Levittown take a class photo in May 1955.
Levittown residents participate in a watermelon eating contest in this undated photo.
Levittown resident Sidney Resnick pours coffee for houseguests William Levitt and his son, James, while her children, Sandee and Carole, sit beside them in the living room of their Flamingo Road home in 1957.
Levittown students examine a plaque dedicated to American soldiers in this undated photo.
Levittown residents square dance in front of May's Department Store during the town's 10th anniversary celebration in 1957.
An aerial view of Levittown on Sept. 25, 1957, after 10 years of growth.
Levittown residents have a Hawaiian-themed party at Levittown Hall in this undated photo.
Builder William J. Levitt was among the group that toured the newly built Jonas E. Salk Junior High School in Levittown on Sept. 22, 1957, as part of the community's 10th anniversary celebrations.
Mothers with baby carriages block traffic on Bloomingdale Road and Sculptor Road in Levittown on June 11, 1959 to petition for stop signs after a young boy was killed by a speeding car.
Chief Lud Wolf watches as 1st Lt. Charles Rago of Rescue Company polishes the newest truck acquired by the Levittown Fire Department on Aug. 23, 1959.
Brian Beach, 4, of Levittown, holds some good luck charms to ward off any Friday the 13th trouble in 1962.
Levittown residents hold signs advertising Fourth of July fireworks in 1962.
General Douglas MacArthur High School is shown in this undated photo. The school opened in 1960, with the first graduating class in 1961.
The Burke triplets, Sharon, left, Sean and Susan, of Levittown, celebrate their first birthday on February 24, 1964.
During the blackout of November 9, 1965, Nassau County Police direct traffic with the aid of a Fire Department emergency light truck set up at the intersection of Hempstead Turnpike and Jerusalem Avenue in Levittown.
Gardiner Avenue School is shown in this undated photo.
A twirler performs during Levittown's 20th anniversary parade on Hempstead Turnpike in 1967.
Levittown residents attend the town's 20th anniversary dance in 1967.
Levittown residents attend the town's 20th anniversary dance in 1967.
An aerial view of traffic on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown is shown in this 1967 photo.
This undated photo shows the Levittown shopping center on Hempstead Turnpike.
Sid Track of North Bellmore rides a horse down Jerusalem Avenue in a parade celebrating the 20th anniversary of Levittown on July 23, 1967.
Levittown students participate in an acting lesson in this undated photo.
This undated photo shows the May's Department Store on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown. The site is currently home to the Tri-County Jewelry Exchange.
Levittown Shopping Center on Hempstead Turnpike as seen in 1967. Today, the May's building is the site of Tri-County Jewelry Exchange.
The Levittown Public Library, shown in 1969, is on Bluegrass Lane.
Levittown Memorial High School is shown in this 1969 photo.
A fire truck sits inside the Levittown Fire Department in this 1969 photo.
Slate Lane swimming pool in Levittown in 1969.
The corner of Shotgun and Chimney lanes in Levittown on September 13, 1969.
The Levittown Fire Department Station 1 in August, 1969.
Frank LaCava stands outside his barber shop at the Center Lane Village Green on May 24, 1971.
Marilyn King, her daughter Denise, and their pet cat are in the living room of their Levittown home on June 30, 1971.
Shoppers stand outside The Clothes Inn store in Levittown on July 1, 1971.
Navy, Marine and Air Force recruiting stations on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown on May 24, 1971.
New York discount retailer J.W. Mays' is pictured in this 1971 street scene on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown.
Marilyn King and her daughter in the kitchen of their Levittown home on June 30, 1971.
A view of Hempstead Turnpike looking west from the Levittown-Bethpage border on May 24, 1971.
Heather Mahaffy, of Levittown, reads a story while Kathy Baxter, of Seaford, returns books to Herb Blinder on Aug. 7, 1972, at the Levittown Public Library Bookmobile parked on Bernice Road in Seaford. The library had started its bookmobile program in 1952 to bring the library to the community.
The Levittown sign on May 8, 1974.
Roller skaters at the Levittown Arena on Hempstead Turnpike on Jan. 8, 1980.
Carolyn Schiller and her daughter Kim, 3, in the kitchen of their renovated Levittown home on Feb. 8, 1985.
Businessman William Levitt as seen on Jan. 1, 1986.
The Levittown Arena on Hempstead Turnpike is pictured on Sept. 10, 1986, after shutting down to make way for a Rockbottom drugstore.
Shoppers flock to the Tri-County Flea Market on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown on April 19, 1986.
Freddy Kuhner, 16, Jason Cavallo, 16, and Bobby Ludemann, 9, in front of Danny's Ride-a-Way bicycle shop in Levittown on Dec. 2, 1987.
An aerial view of Levittown on Nov. 11, 1989.
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