Perfectly Planned Community
Most House for the Most Money
the American Dream
The Most House for the Money
DESIGNING LEVITTOWN FROM THE INSIDE
Levittowner Model #1.
||Sales flyer for the
Levittowner. [Levittown Regional
The heart of Levittown was the mass-produced,
single-family house. Levitt sacrificed individuality
and custom design for low-cost efficiency. Still, his
Pennsylvania development featured six house models,
each in several different styles and model years. Levitt
boasted that he had created "the least monotonous mass
housing group in the country."
"With its clean lines, the Levittowner is
custom designed for modern living."
|Illustration of Levittown house interior
and Village, August 14, 1952.
Introduced in 1952, the sleek, ranch-style Levittowner was
the best selling model during Levittown's first few
years. Its contemporary, California-inspired design
appealed to young professionals and complemented their
taste in mid-century modern furniture. Its initial
modest $9990—appealed to just about everyone.
Sales flyer for the Country
[Levittown Regional Library]
|Disputes with local township officials
forced Levitt to halt his initial run of 500 Country
Clubbers. In 1954, he resumed production with a
new and improved model offering nearly twice as
much room as the Levittowner—albeit at nearly
twice the price. All of Levittown's Country
Clubbers were located in Middletown Township.
Sales flyer for
the Rancher. [Levittown Regional
|Introduced in 1953, the Rancher sold for $1,000
less than the Levittowner and included a second
floor that could be finished into an extra bedroom.
It proved especially popular with couples planning
Sales flyer for
the Jubilee. [Levittown Regional
|The Jubilee debuted in 1954 to mark Levitt and
Sons 25th anniversary and proved an instant hit
with consumers. The anniversary model included an
enclosed garage and an expandable second floor.
A later version, the Jubilee Jr., was identical
to its predecessor except for the unfinished second
& THE COLONIAL
Flyer for "Levittown in
1957". [Collections of the State Museum]
|Introduced during the last few years of construction,
the Pennsylvanian and the Colonial were built in
much smaller numbers and in only a few sections.
Both styles reappeared in his third development
in Willingboro, New Jersey.
"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
All Levittown models featured name-brand materials,
built-in features, and a modern, efficient design
to appeal to young consumers. Levitt's designs were
widely copied by other builders—a testament
to the development's widespread impact on the American
Levitt was among the first large-scale builders
to embrace the "open plan," a design marked by
a minimum of interior walls. By eliminating traditional,
box-like room partitions, the open plan made the
most of limited space. In early models, a fireplace
served as the focal point—an idea borrowed
from Frank Lloyd Wright.
Interior of the
Country Clubber model. [Levittown
near a picture window, standard in most Levittown
house models. [Rita Calzarette]
Consistent with mid-century architectural design,
Levitt incorporated windows and natural light
wherever possible. The Levittowner featured
full-length or floor-to-ceiling picture windows,
and back, segmented into standard multiples.
Carports and, in most later models, expandable
attics, were promoted as ideal "rumpus rooms"
for children that could be finished at the leisure—and
expense—of individual homeowners.
likely from a Rancher model. [Urban
Archives, Temple University, Philadelphia]
in Levittowner model kitchen.
All Levitt houses featured modern kitchens complete
with electric range, refrigerator and other built-in
accessories designed to take the labor out of
Most models featured large, sliding glass doors
that opened on to an outdoor terrace which could
be finished into a livable patio space.
A model patio adjoining a Levittowner house. [Levittown
Levitt houses lacked in originality they made up for
in cost-saving design. Although controversial by the
standards of the day, many of Levitt's building practices
were adopted by other home builders.
for the Levittowner, from a 1953 architectural
drawing. [Sam Hellings]
||Aerial view showing
construction. [Jack Rosen]
Levitt was the first large-scale builder to construct
houses on radiantly heated cement slabs. By foregoing
a dug-out basement, Levitt estimated he saved consumers
$1,000 per dwelling. The practice caught on. By 1952,
25% of all new houses were constructed on slab.
Levitt's midget boiler,
as profiled in Fortune
Magazine, October 1952.
York-Shipley custom designed these "midget" boilers
to fit snugly under kitchen counters or closets in Levitt's
basement-less houses. Plumbing trees were also truncated
to save money. This required that kitchens and bathrooms
be located in close proximity.
cut costs and add flexibility, Levitt replaced conventional,
solid-wood closet doors with Japanese manufactured bamboo
screens. Like all of his materials, Levitt ordered the
bamboo screens in bulk—1,750,000 square feet of
it in his initial order. "The Japanese will learn what
it means to be touched by Levitt," Fortune Magazine
|Mother and daughter
in front of closet. [Look Magazine, Library
While most of Levitt's cost cutting measures held up,
some did not. His tarpaper composition sewer pipe saved
money in the short run but proved unstable. Homeowners
often were forced to pay thousands of dollars to install
new, copper lines—generally after Levitt's five-year
warranty had expired.
Landscaping the Levittown House
detail showing landscape plan for a Levittowner house.
"Landscaping cannot be compared with the
building of a concrete wall."
Levitt and Sons Homeowners
with everything else, landscaping was standardized so
that each lot received the same allotment of shade trees,
fruit trees, evergreens and perennials and flowering
shrubs. The final plan called for more than 400,000
plantings at a cost of $8,000,000.
||Page from the home
owners manual distributed by Levitt and Sons,
the "how-tos" of lawn care. [Collections of the
Levitt supplied homeowners with detailed instructions
on the care of lawn, plants and shrubbery. The assumption
was that most new homeowners—as lifelong city
dwellers—would have been unfamiliar with even
the most basic aspects of horticulture.
small by rural standards, Levittown's 7000 square foot
lots seemed spacious to city dwellers. Levitt believed
that most homeowners would be unwilling to maintain
lots any larger than that.
|George Ryan cartoon
published in the Levittown
Outlook, spoofing Levittowners' approach to
lawncare. [Jerry Jonas]