An aerial photo from 1947 shows the new Levittown homes.

An aerial photo from 1947 shows the new Levittown homes. Credit: Newsday File, 1947 / Cliff DeBear

When the legal documents were drawn for Levittown - America's first modern suburban community - homeowners were prohibited from reselling to anyone who wasn't white. And even in later years, as more and more Americans abandoned urban neighborhoods, their journey to suburbia became known as "white flight."

No more.

Study after study keeps proving what a glance around Nassau and Suffolk counties readily suggests: Increasingly, people of all hues are embracing suburban life.

The latest data from the Center for Research and Information Analysis? After years of trickling northward, Latinos are becoming an integral part of Long Island life. Suffolk County, where 25.7 percent of the population is now Hispanic, has the 40th highest concentration in the country. Nassau, with 31.9 percent, is close behind at 47th.

No, the flight isn't just white anymore. Most of these new suburbanites are coming for the same reasons the old ones did: More space. Better schools. A more tranquil style of living.

The question going forward, as the suburbs more closely resemble the rest of America, is, to what extent the newcomers simply embrace the old suburban attitudes and to what extent those attitudes are changed by them.

Will the cultures be more disparate - or more diverse?

It's all in the hands of the people who are coming and the people who will remain.





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Some have complained that Long Island needs more culutral opportunities. Vic Skolnick, who died this week at 81, actually did something about it. Almost 40 years ago, he co-founded what would become Huntington's Cinema Arts Centre, one of the nation's leading venues for independent, foreign and experimental film. More than anyone else, Skolnick made the suburbs safe for subtitles.E-mail

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