Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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p. v

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Foreword

Dell Upton

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pp. vii-xi

In retrospect, it is hard to imagine that so little was made of so much. The aerial views—endless, tiny, indistinguishable houses scattered across a bare landscape to the horizon—set the tone. Three varied developments in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey were reduced to a single collective...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

Every book, to some extent, results from the efforts of many people, but the creation and preparation of this volume have been a particularly rewarding and collaborative experience. All of the authors for this volume contributed in important ways that extended beyond simply submitting...

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1. Introduction: A Second Suburb

Dianne Harris

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pp. 1-14

Like millions of Americans, on Tuesday evening, November 4, 2008, I sat with my neighbors and eagerly watched televised returns for the election of the forty-fourth president of the United States. As areas of the map turned red and blue, I kept my eye on Pennsylvania. When Bucks County...

Part I. Looking at Levittown from the Inside

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2. Revealing the History of Levittown, One Voice at a Time

Chad M. Kimmel

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pp. 17-40

Between 2002 and 2007, I interviewed a number of Levittown residents who had contributed to the building of their community, both physically and socially. Al DiGiovanni was a baker from South Philadelphia when he moved into Levittown in 1952. He was short, stocky, and had a...

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3. Reflections on Levittown

Daisy D. Myers

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pp. 41-59

All we ever really wanted was a normal life. We moved to Levittown because the house had everything we wanted—it was a rancher with a third bedroom for our baby girl, a garage for Bill, and a yard for the children to play in....

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4. Levittown, My Levittown

Bill Griffith

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pp. 60-66

Although Levittown, Long Island, was technically my “hometown,” it rarely felt like one to me. I grew up there from 1952 to 1962, living in two different Levitt houses, one a Cape Cod, one a ranch. Tract-home suburban life didn’t really agree with me, I guess, with the exception of a few early...

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5. Levittown in Photographs

Compiled by Dianne Harris

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pp. 67-119

The photographs included in this section are intended to provide a more complete visual picture of Levittown and to supplement the photographs that accompany the chapters. They are organized to illustrate Levittown at a range of scales, from the macro scale of the development itself to...

Part II. Looking at Levittown from the Outside

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6. The Levitts, Mass-Produced Houses, and Community Planning in the Mid-twentieth Century

Richard Longstreth

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pp. 123-174

When plans for Levittown, Pennsylvania, were announced in late August 1951, the name was already famous across the nation and abroad. Levitt & Sons had emerged during the post–World War II years as the largest builder of houses in the United States. The first Levittown, in...

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7. Jim Crow’s Last Stand: The Struggle to Integrate Levittown

Thomas J. Sugrue

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pp. 175-199

For a few months in 1957, Levittown, Pennsylvania, attracted national attention as a civil rights battleground, but it was quickly forgotten, and our histories of the African American freedom movement have remained disproportionately focused on the South. A vast body of books...

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8. “The House I Live In: ”Architecture, Modernism, and Identity in Levittown

Dianne Harris

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pp. 200-242

In 1945, Frank Sinatra starred in a short film that focused on questions of racial and ethnic difference and acceptance. Titled The House I Live In, it featured a song of the same name that became a patriotic hit for Sinatra, and the film won a special Academy Award in 1946.1 As the...

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9. Pink Kitchens for Little Boxes: The Evolution of 1950s Kitchen Design in Levittown

Curtis Miner

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pp. 243-280

On Easter weekend in 1958, Sally and Jack Sondesky took possession of their new three-bedroom house in Highland Park, one of the last of the forty neighborhood sections to be completed in the eight-square-mile development of Levittown, Pennsylvania. Like many of their...

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10. Suburban Nature, Class, and Environmentalism in Levittown

Christopher Sellers

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pp. 281-313

David Marable, a nearly life-long Levittown resident, led our team of historians on a tour of his town’s neighborhoods in the spring of 2006. In addition to familiarizing the group with house types, neighborhoods, and the overall planning of the town, Marable insisted that we see some trees....

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11. More Than Ticky Tacky: Venturi, Scott Brown, and Learning from the Levittown Studio

Jessica Lautin

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pp. 314-339

In 1972, twenty years had passed since the founding of Levittown, Pennsylvania. But one needed to read a local newspaper or actually visit the development, rather than listen to the critics, to grasp how things had changed. At that time, roughly seventy-five thousand residents—diverse...

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12. “No Gas, My Ass!”: Marking the End of the Postwar Period in Levittown

Chad M. Kimmel

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pp. 340-353

On July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter delivered a speech to the nation. The topic, energy, could no longer be ignored. Carter had postponed the speech for ten days because he lacked an answer to a question that, he admitted, “I know has been troubling many of you: Why have...

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Epilogue: The Suburbs of Desire

Peter Fritzsche

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pp. 354-362

Fifty years after the founding of Levittown, Pennsylvania, local historians identified the “moments that define a community.”1 The 1951 groundbreaking for the “New City” inaugurated a timeline that took measure of the high hopes of newly arrived Levittown families, who...

Notes

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pp. 363-416

Contributors

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pp. 417-418

Index

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pp. 419-429