February 16, 2012

Levittown NY: The beginning of a community built on former potato fields


It was in October 1947 that the first families moved into their Levitt and Sons Cape Cod houses built on former potato fields in an area called Island Trees. Notice the absence of trees, shrubbery and the unfinished sidewalk.


Many of the newcomers came from apartments in Queens and Brooklyn and this barren landscape must have looked like heaven to them. The vehicles pictured here are all pre-World War II vintage. It had been only two years since the war ended and many of the dads who moved in were returning veterans.


According to Lynne Matarrese in "The History of Levittown, New York", "On October 1, 1947, the first 300 families moved into the Cape Cod rental units. The first residents to occupy a Levitt house were Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Bladykas who moved into 67 Bellmore Road." The monthly rent was $60 and all houses were rentals. Matarrese writes that after one year the Capes were available for sale at $7,500.


Levitt and Sons changed the name of their Island Trees community to Levittown, effective January 1, 1948. The first ranch-style houses became available in 1949 with a starting price of $7,990. They were 50-square feet larger than the Cape Cods. Construction ended in November 1951. At the peak of production, more than 30 houses were built in a day. And so it began.


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