1. Unit 3: Post War America
The Post War Economic Boom
• What challenges did the U.S. face when World War II ended in 1945?
• What was the catalyst for the post‐war economic boom?
• How does Levittown reflect the trends and developments of the post‐war period?
No man who own his own house and a
lot can be a Communist. He has too much
‐‐‐William Levitt, 1948
2. How does this cartoon reflect some of the issues facing the U.S. at the end of World War II?
3. The Need for Housing
• Between 1932 and 1945, new housing starts = less than 100,000 per year.
• During the war, marriage rates started to climb.
• After the war, birth rates skyrocketed.
• In 1947, 3 million families had a need for homes.
The Role of the Government: Veterans Administration & FHA Loans
• VA loan program was created in 1947 for 16 million returning vets.
• Federal government backed $20 billion in VA & FHA loans.
• Federal loans led to 55% of households owning their own homes by 1950.
• This resulted in over 1.6 million housing starts/year by 1950.
The Type of Housing
• By 1955, 3/4 of all new houses were in subdivisions.
• Most building was done by only a few firms‐‐‐building new houses was BIG
• The Levitts were THE family of housing developments.
5. Levitt's Vision:
From this . . . . . . to this!
Long Island, 1948‐‐‐‐located 25 miles from Manhattan
17,400 houses | 82,000 residents
750 sq. feet/house | $7,990 ‐ $9,500
6. What was different?
Cement slabs replaced basements
Even in NOLA: Lakeview, 1950s
7. Assembly line construction replaced custom building
We are not builders. We are manufacturers.
It took 27 steps to build this house:
step 1. lay the foundation
step 27. clean the house
Parts were preassembled in central shops.
The Levitts owned their own cement company.
They used new power tools: saws, nailers, routers.
8. It was an entirely planned community not just several 1000 houses.
Shopping Centers Churches
We bought 5,000 acres and we planned every foot of it.
Bill Levitt quoted in House and Home, December 1951.
9. How does the development of suburbia reflect the trends and
developments of post World War II America?
What did the development of suburbia mean for the United States?
10. Regardless of the Levittown house which you choose, you will be acquiring the
latest in modern design with the most up to date appliances and features.
Levitt and Sons sales brochure
How do these rooms reflect trends/developments
in post World War II America?
12. The Doughertys: Philomena and John
Levittown, PA's first official residents, 1952
13. Consequences for the U.S. of Suburban Development