Author Topic: 1951: American dream houses, all in a row  (Read 1894 times)

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1951: American dream houses, all in a row
« on: November 12, 2011, 02:23:19 PM »


My parents moved us there in 1959; it was their first house.  They paid $10,000 for one like that pictured in the upper left corner.  In 2001, I paid much more than that for my truck.

Quote
William Levitt had already established himself as America's biggest housebuilder in 1951 when he looked upon a green expanse of woods and spinach farms in bucolic Bucks County, Pa., and dreamed of instant suburbia.

    Here, a ranch house. There, a Cape Cod. As far as his mind's eye could see, a sprawl of boxlike, two-bedroom houses — a city named Levittown.

    Pieces of the American Dream were a hot commodity in post-World War II America, and nobody could sell them like Levitt. When he marketed his mass-produced homes in beautiful color brochures, thousands of young families wanted to buy.

    They came to escape crowded cities like Trenton, eight miles northeast, or Philadelphia, 20 miles south. They came to own their own home, cook with their own appliances, mow their own lawn. They had GI loans in hand, babies on the way, and a ‘50s brand of pioneering spirit.

    "Bill Levitt didn't just build a community here — he built a world," said Hal Lefcourt, an Army veteran who left Hamilton Township 47 years ago to move into his Levitt house — and still lives in Levittown today.

    "We were young, all of us who moved to Levittown, and we thought Bill Levitt was the greatest man in the world. Imagine it — $10 deposit, $90 at settlement, and you had a house of your own!"

    Levittown was a fresh marvel of modern planning to a Northeast corridor bursting at its seams in the early 1950s.

...

No two styles were ever built side by side. Still, the rows of houses looked so stupefyingly alike that even residents mixed them up. One newcomer, Reuben Sussman, later recalled telephoning for directions to his own house after driving around and around the neighborhood.

My Father said he did that, too, early on; he pulled into the wrong driveway.  He didn't call home, though, and didn't have to drive round and round the place.

I wasn't aware of the sneering done by some, Pete Seeger, for one, over the "ticky-tacky houses".  Every house had radiant-heating floors, came with brand new refrigerators, electric stoves and dishwashers, three bedrooms, two full baths, and every lot had fruit trees, peach and apple (we had a Weeping Willow too in the backyard; not a well-thought out idea as the roots "went" for the water pipes) -- not bad for $10K in 1959.

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Re: 1951: American dream houses, all in a row
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2011, 03:37:27 PM »
The one in the lower left looks like my present home - built in 1957. At some point the PO turned the garage into a rec room and built a 3 1/2-car garage on the lot. Well made, I'd rather own this place than 3/4 of the homes built today.

charlesoakwood

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Re: 1951: American dream houses, all in a row
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2011, 06:19:10 PM »

Pete Seeger would be out there entertaining those tentsh*tters.

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Re: 1951: American dream houses, all in a row
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2011, 01:19:43 AM »
I had an uncle who got married in 1961 and bought a new house very similar to the one in the upper right corner . He paid $11,000.00 for it and eventually added a family room in the rear . He's long gone now and his family has scattered but in 2007 I and a couple of my cousins drove by it and I commented that it had just changed hands again and the price tag was $140,000.00 . I also made the comment that something was terribly wrong when a house like that sold for such a ridiculouis amount of money . Well ... as things turned out a year later something WAS terribly wrong !