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Levittown: 1958

Levittown: 1958

Aug. 28, 1958. "Levittown houses. Mrs. Robert Berman, residence at 3626 Regent Lane." Large-format acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.

 

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Technically...

I was born and raised in Levittown, NY. This is not a Levitt-built home as Levitt did not build any split-level homes in the NY development. This home has a basement; Levitt-built homes were built on a cement slab. It was built in 1954, which is after Levitt was done building. And finally, although this home is located within Levittown's boundary, it has a Wantagh zip code/address.

Fiber cement siding

In regular use from around the 20s to mid 60s. It was the vinyl siding of its day, fast and easy to install and looked good when finished. In many ways it was far better than vinyl or aluminum. Fireproof, low maintenance and pretty much immune to fire, heat and cold, but did require painting every few years. Not unusual to find it in near perfect shape even after 50 years.

Still available in most home improvement stores, though now it's not made with asbestos.

1954 Ford Crestline Victoria

The car in the driveway is a 1954 Ford vice a 53. The side trim, trunk handle and tail lights indicate a 54.

Last sold for $365k in April 2012

It would be interesting to know what this 1,684 sqft Levittown special cost new. Zillow estimates it's currently worth about $494k. A similar house now on the market a couple of blocks away has an asking price of $569k.

Astra-Dial

The car in the driveway is a 1954 Ford. This was the first year for the Astra-Dial control panel. The speedometer had a transparent hood which allowed daylight to illuminate the needle and dial. This feature was also used on the first two years of Thunderbirds.

It's a lost era

Too bad today's first time buyers and homebuilders have forgotten that the first step towards long term security is an affordable starter home. Everybody has to start near the top of the ladder now.

Pleasant surprise!

To one who had only seen aerial shots of the Long Island Levittown when it was a brand new scar on the landscape, this shot some ten years later is an awakening. The houses are not identical boxes, there came to be trees and shrubs -- save for the utility poles in the background, altogether okay.

The street view (thanks, Vintagetvs) reinforces the notion that time heals all wounds, even aesthetic ones. Developments like the several Levittowns addressed an urgent post-war need for housing, but they were never intended to be aspirational "forever" dream homes. Still, to equate them with ticky-tacky, as many have, seems in hindsight a bit unfair.

Nice

The house still looks very nice after 58 years.

Um, I don't think that's the same tree.

It's much closer to the driveway than in 1958.

The 1953 Ford Victoria

Has neither Ford-O-Matic or Overdrive according to the blank space on the right side of the trunk, and has lost the decorative ring from its left tail light in this its fifth year. Levittown has a reputation as the location of many bland crackerbox houses but this one would still be considered nice even by today's standards.

See the Tree, how big it's grown...

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