Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00
“Potato fields”, one said. “Nothing but potato fields”, spake another. And the shibboleth became a mantra with “potato fields as far as the eye could see”. These people were describing Levittown prior to World War II on a social networking site. They were wrong.
The fact is, in the two decades prior to Levitt & Sons building roads and recreational facilities to accommodate the residents of the 17,447 mass-produced homes they erected between 1947 and 1951, the Levittown landscape was a complex and diverse one that had a considerable impact upon our community’s present-day configuration.
Potato fields were certainly the most conspicuous feature back then, but the community also had a church, a cemetery, two school houses, three rural airfields, a gardening center, a dog kennel, a gas station, a peach orchard, a small hog farm, a dozen-unit housing development built in 1934, right-of-ways for the defunct Stewart Line of the LIRR and the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, and an ancient grove of pine trees that grew along the east side of Jerusalem Avenue between Hempstead Turnpike and Mallard Road.
There were also scores of acres of undeveloped land right in the heart of town. By the time William Levitt purchased his first two hundred acres for $225/acre from the Merillon Estate Company, the automobile was already making the area more accessible — a process accelerated by the arrival of the Wantagh Parkway in 1936.
The land-use patterns, existing 19th Century roads like Division Avenue and Farmedge Road and Bloomingdale Road, and colonial thoroughfares like Hempstead Turnpike and Wantagh Avenue, created the canvas upon which the Levitt Development revolutionized the mass-production, civil engineering, and marketing techniques emulated throughout the globe.
The chain-reaction of suburban development, explosive population growth, and commercial expansion ignited by Levitt & Sons after 1947 easily gives one the impression of a town springing-up overnight in the middle of nowhere and that perception is augmented by many areal photographs from that time. Understandable. After all, where in 1940 there were a score of households, but 1950 there were a few thousand. But its history actually goes far back.
Although encompassed in the original Hempstead Purchase of 1643, it was twenty-one years later that Capt. John Seaman became the first European resident whose land was within the future Levittown; his Jerusalem Purchase included parts of Seaford, Wantagh, and Levittown south of Hempstead Turnpike and east of a creek that flowed along present-day Bloomingdale Road and Ranch Lane.
That day, February 12, 1664, is as much the beginning of Levittown as October 1, 1947 when Theodore and Patricia Bladykus became the first family to move into their Levitt & Sons Cape Cod on the corner of Sherwood and North Bellmore.
The arrival of the LIRR to Hicksville (1837), Wantagh (1868), and the Island Trees/Jerusalem area via the aforementioned Stewart Line (1873) brought in droves of German immigrants who settled along Wantagh Avenue, Jerusalem Avenue, Bloomingdale Road, Division Avenue, and Hempstead Turnpike forming a community — and later a school district — around the ancient grove of pine trees called Island Trees.
This settlement and school district — joined with the Jerusalem settlement and school district to the south and southwest — became absorbed in the Levitt Development and officially emerged as Levittown on January 1, 1948.
What Levittown has had these past three-and-a-half centuries is history, nothing but history, and history as far as the eye can see and we at the Levittown Historical Society & Museum are proud of our labor-of-love preserving it for future generations.
Levittown Historical Society & Museum
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 00:00
It’s been a long time since Nicole Shaw and Chris McCabe first met—years, in fact—but after taking a chance on each other, the couple realized that they were meant to be with
McCabe recently proposing to Shaw at Old Westbury Gardens’ annual Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns after six years of dating.
McCabe, now an NYPD officer, and Shaw, who works for Mill Neck Services for Deaf Adults, met in middle school and developed their friendship through high school, said Shaw.
Friday, 21 November 2014 00:00
The smell of pine, wood and scented candles greet customers with a sense of home as they cross the wooden threshold to the Amish Craft Barn in Seaford. There they will find dolls, birdhouses, quilts, ceramic turkeys, hand-painted Christmas trees, oak furniture and other seasonal and holiday tchotchkes.
Massapequa natives Frank and Pam Hoerauf started The Amish Craft Barn & Gift Shoppe 20 years ago after an inspiring visit to Pennsylvania.
Thursday, 20 November 2014 00:00
The Island Trees Cross Country teams continue their improvement in 2014. This year the girls’ team has a record of 8-2 and with their victories over Clarke and Wheatley High Schools, they clinched the Division Championship for the first time in Island Trees High School history.
The girls are led by senior Captain Angela Brocco who has been rewriting the girl’s record boards. Brocco set the school record for the Warwick Valley 5000 meter course on Sept. 20.
Thursday, 20 November 2014 00:00
This season the Girls’ Varsity Soccer Team at Division Avenue has the rare ability to fill every position on the field with a member of the senior class. All 11 seniors have made contributions to the success of this year’s squad.