Levittown, Pa.
Building the Suburban Dream
 

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Planning, Building and Selling Levittown The Suburban Dream

Ranch House Pioneers

Becoming a Levittowner

Kidsville, USA

Levittown Electronic Hearth

Home & Garden

Main Street


Levittown Kitchen


Exhibit acknowledgements

 

Ranch House Pioneers
LIFE ON THE SUBURBAN FRONTIER


for sale cartoon
Young family arriving in Levittown, late June, 1952. The typical Levittown household consisted of couples under age 30 with children under age five. [Courtesy of Urban Archives, Temple University, Philadelphia.].

They came in the pioneering spirit of America—with a suitcase in one hand and a baby in another.

June 26, 1952 issue of the Levittown Times reporting on the arrival of the first residents.

Young family arriving in Levittown, late June, 1952. The typical Levittown household consisted of couples under age 30 with children under age five.
[Urban Archives, Temple University, Philadelphia]

 


Levittown's First Official Family

Levittown's first 20 families arrived on June 23, 1952.

With its partially framed housing, immature landscaping and muddy streets, their new community looked more like a frontier town than a modern housing development.

"People talked about the mud and the dirt and everything, but it was exciting"
Philomena Dougherty

showing Doughertys moving from Phila. to Levittown Courtesy of Rita Calzarette.

showing Doughertys moving from Phila. to Levittown Courtesy of Rita Calzarette.

On June 23, 1952, reporters followed John and Philomena Dougherty as they moved into their new home at 67 Stonybrook Drive. Like many of those who would follow, Levittown�s first official family had moved up from Philadelphia.

Their front yard was still a construction site, but for the Doughertys and countless others, Levittown represented the fulfillment of the American Dream of homeownership. "Country living with city conveniences," Philomena told reporters. [Rita Calzarette]

showing Doughertys moving from Phila. to Levittown Courtesy of Rita Calzarette.

showing Doughertys moving from Phila. to Levittown Courtesy of Rita Calzarette.


Home on the Range

Child in doorway of recently framed house Courtesy of Kathy Sandy.Soon-to-be residents frequently photographed their Levittown houses under construction. A first home was an occasion worth recording and remembering.

Child in doorway of recently framed house. [Kathy Sandy]

Cartoon, welcome wagon; From the Levittown Outlook, 1959.

 

 

 

George Ryan cartoon, from the Levittown Outlook, 1959. [Jerry Jonas]

The first few weeks for new homeowners was akin to frontier life—few public services, alternately muddy and dusty streets, and Spartan furnishings. An official "Welcome Wagon" helped new homeowners with their transition to suburbia.

 

George Carmichael inspects his new house on Jasmine Road, in the Juniper Hills section of Levittown.

Carmichael enjoys his first dinner�on moving boxes�in his new home.

George Carmichael inspects his new house on Jasmine Road, in the Juniper Hills section of Levittown.

Carmichael enjoys his first dinner—on moving boxes—in his new home. [George Carmichael]

Even local officials had to consult Levittown maps to figure out who lived where. Their main activity in the early years? Helping lost homeowners�and their children and pets�find their way home. [Courtesy of Jerry Jones]

Even local officials had to consult Levittown maps to figure out who lived where. Their main activity in the early years? Helping lost homeowners—and their children and pets—find their way home. [Jerry Jonas]

Home Delivery

Vendors and salesman lined up along Jasmine Road in the Juniper Hill section. [Courtesy of George Carmichael.]

Repro ad for

Vendors and salesmen lined up along Jasmine Road in the Juniper Hill section. [George Carmichael]

Ad for "Eureka Disposomatic" published in the Levittown Times.

With more than 70,000 residents, Levittown represented a lucrative market for businesses that catered to new home owners—an ideal built-in market for everything from heating oil to milk delivery. Maps of Levittown were a favorite advertising premium.

Dairies occupied two full pages in the local telephone book in 1956. Courtesy of David Marable.During the early years, competition for Levittown's "milk dollar" was fierce. Local dairies such as Greenwood gave free samples to win over new customers. For businesses that catered to young families, suburbia represented the ideal market.

Dairies occupied two full pages in the local telephone book in 1956. [David Marable]

 


Growth Spurt!

Levittown's population grew by leaps and bounds during the 1950s, thanks both to natural increase and the constant arrival of new residents. Like many other new suburbs, Levittown was considered a "rabbits warren" and a boom town for pediatricians.

George Carmichael inspects his new house on Jasmine Road, in the Juniper Hills section of Levittown.

Carmichael enjoys his first dinner�on moving boxes�in his new home.


Living by the Rules

New residents to Levittown received instructions on the care and maintenance of new homes, as well as a list of community "do's" and "don'ts."

The Homeowners Guide, distributed to all new residents, came to be known as the "rule book." [Collections of the State Museum]

The Homeowners Guide, distributed to all new residents, came to be known as the

The Homeowners Guide, distributed to all new residents, came to be known as the

Ad for the Another necessity for new home owners? A detailed map.

Another necessity for new home owners? A detailed map.

 

Ad for the "ranch dryer," published in the Levittown Times, 1952.

Only "revolving portable type dryers" were permitted in Levittown since, according to Levitt, "old fashioned clothes lines strung across the lawn look messy." Levitt also prohibited the hanging of laundry on Sundays and holidays, "when you and your neighbor are most likely to be relaxing on the rear lawn."

Concerned they would spoil the development�s "park-like appearance," Levitt banned man-made fences. Residents were instead encouraged to plant a "natural" fence of privet hedge or evergreens. The restriction proved unenforceable.

Cartoon showing moat around house From the Levittown Outlook, 1959.

George Ryan cartoon from the Levittown Outlook, 1959.

 


Expanding

Home remodeling became a major industry. Many Levittown residents built out or up to accommodate growing families

Advert for home remodeling From the Levittown Outlook, 1959. Letter from Levitt and Sons approving an addition. Courtesy of Sam Hellings.
Ad for home remodeling placed in the Levittown Outlook, 1959. Letter from Levitt and Sons approving an addition. [Sam Hellings] Homeowners were required to submit their remodeling plans to Levitt for approval.
Father finishing rec room/carport From Look Magazine Collection, Library of Congress.

Couple decorating house at night From Look Magazine Collection, Library of Congress.

Father finishing rec room. [Look Magazine Collection, Library of Congress]

Couple decorating house at night. [Look Magazine Collection, Library of Congress] According to the Ladies Home Journal, a favorite pastime of newcomers was "gazing into lighted homes at night to pick up decorating ideas."

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State Museum of Pennsylvania Copyright © 2003 The State Museum of Pennsylvania