Revisiting the Archetypal Post-War Suburb

A CityLab article takes a trip to Levittown, Pennsylvania for a lesson in how places change, even when some places stay the same.

Read Time: 1 minute

March 2, 2016, 2:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Jake Blumgart returns to the "archetypal post-war suburb" of Levittown (this one's located in Pennsylvania, not New York), to examine the history of the city as well as speculate on its future direction.

After explaining that the Levittown in Bucks County, Pennsylvania was a more fully realized version of the vision of William Levitt than the more famous example in Long Island, Blumgart provides a brief history of the community from its inception in the early 1950s through its quick growth in population and as a location for industry and employment to its initial declines in the 1970s. According to Blumgart: "It is almost too easy to draw parallels between the story of Levittown and the arc of the postwar middle class. Both have fallen from their heyday, when the economy was surpassingly kind regardless of education (if mostly to white men)."

The article includes more anecdotes from the city's history as well as more assessment of its current situation as both an archetype and an outlier among the suburban landscape.

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