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Letter: How Levitt Made A Town

“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.

 

But we can’t do it alone. We are always seeking citizens to join our board and volunteers and those interested should inquire at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or see us on Facebook. 

 

Paul Manton

 

President  

 

Levittown Historical Society & Museum

News

Long Island Democrat David Denenberg has dropped out of the race for state Senate, after recent accusations that the Nassau County Legislator fraudulently billed his own law firm—

Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron—over $2 million for non-existent case work. According to published reports, Denenberg stated, “My family, the electorate, the campaign and this position are way too important to subject myself to such outrageous allegations and negative attacks against me personally. Therefore I withdraw from the race.”

The founders of the popular Facebook group “Massapequa Moms,” a ‘virtual living room with 6,700 people,’ are leveraging their social media power to create a new discount loyalty card good all over Long Island—including, they hope, in Levittown.

With a hugely popular Facebook community, co-founders Dawn Boyle Kostakis and Stephanie Hartman wanted to “figure out a way that we could help the consumer and the business owner at the same time; keeping commerce going, keeping it all local and having the people get a little bang for their buck,” said Kostakis. They wanted to serve more than just Massapequa, too, and the Long Island Loyalty card was born.


Sports

Saturday, Sept. 27

9 a.m. Boys Varsity Soccer Great Neck South at MacArthur

9:15 a.m. JV Football Lawrence at Division

10 a.m. Boys JV Soccer West Hemsptead at Division

10 a.m. Boys Varsity Soccer Division at West Hempstead

As a fitness coach and a mother, Melissa Monteforte of Locust Valley knows how important it is to stay healthy, and how difficult it can be for women to make themselves, and their health, a priority. Wanting to help women take charge and feel more in control, she organized the Fit & Healthy Mamas Annual 5K run, now in its third year, which took place on Sept. 13 at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

“I felt like running was the best outlet when I became a mother; it’s such a great way to get fit and feel healthy and I wanted to share that with other moms,” says Monteforte, 31. “I wanted women to feel celebrated, no matter their fitness level, and to put their health first.”


Calendar

Hispanic Heritage Month

Friday, September 26

Donations Needed

Saturday, September 27

Homecoming

Saturday, September 27



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com