Levittown, Pa.
Building the Suburban Dream
 

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Planning, Building and Selling Levittown The Suburban Dream

Ranch House Pioneers

Becoming a Levittowner

Kidsville, USA

Levittown Electronic Hearth

Home & Garden

Main Street


Levittown Kitchen


Exhibit acknowledgements

 

Main Street
THE LEVITTOWN SHOP-O-RAMA


sold cartoon

"When I was a toddler, this [shopping center] was the stage for our family’s Friday night payday ritual. While Mom purchased groceries at Food Fair, Dad would hoist me on his shoulders and take me for a sunset stroll …"
Levittown native David Diamond

Customers stroll through the Shop-a-Rama­s central concourse. Courtesy of the Bucks County Courier Times.During the 1950s, Levittown's commercial hub was the Shop-a-Rama, a 60-acre pedestrian mall featuring over 65 retailers and a variety of special events. For many residents, the shopping center was Main Street.

Customers stroll through the Shop-a-rama’s central concourse. [Bucks County Courier Times]

Levitt located his L-shaped pedestrian mall at the edge rather than the center of Levittown to make it less obtrusive for residents and more accessible to outside shoppers. When completed in 1955, it was the largest pedestrian shopping mall east of the Mississippi. Levitt favored chain retailers such as Food Fair, Pomeroys, Woolworths, Kresges and Sears. The center’s parking lot could accommodate 6,000 cars.

Aerial view of the Levittown Shop-a-Rama.

Repro newspaper column,

Aerial view of the Levittown Shop-a-Rama. [Jack Rosen] Parking lot with cars. [Bucks County Courier Times]

POMEROY'S

Jack and Philomena Dougherty relaxing on their back patio in Levittown­s Stonybrook section. Many residents hired local contractors to pour concrete patios or installed a simple one themselves using fieldstone. [Courtesy of Rita Calzarette.]The center’s flagship store, Pomeroy’s occupied more space than any other retailer and sponsored special events and contests year-round.

Image of cake cutting for Pomeroy’s 10th anniversary. [Rita Calzarette]

 

FOOD FAIR

Food Fair cut its opening day ribbon in 1955. The Philadelphia-based chain was one of two grocery stores which operated out of the main shopping center. [Levittown Regional Library]

SEARS

Artist rendering for the new Sears store. Courtesy of Urban Archives, Temple University, Philadelphia.
Artist rendering for the new Sears store. [Urban Archives, Temple University]

America’s most popular department store, Sears-Roebuck opened a store in the Levittown Shop-a-Rama in the late 1950s.


Stores…and So Much More

An elephant train pulls two car-loads of children through the Shop-a-Rama. Courtesy of Jerry Jonas.During the 1950s, the Shop-a-Rama hosted everything from traveling circuses and beauty pageants to political rallies. The Levittown Businessmen’s Association promoted the main shopping center as a community center.

An "elephant train" pulls two car-loads of children through the Shop-a-Rama. [Jerry Jonas]

 

Easter Day dress; Courtesy of Urban Archives, Temple University, Philadelphia.

 

Easter Day dress. [Urban Archives, Temple University]

The annual Easter Day Parade drew thousands to the Levittown shopping center. Families dressed in their Sunday best competed for prizes awarded by a panel of local judges.


"Miss Levitteen, 1957"

Miss Levitteen 1957 in full regalia. [Jerry Jonas]

With Levittown’s large population of teenagers, the annual competition for the title of Miss Levitteen was fierce. In 1957, the crown went to sixteen-year-old Nancy Nemeth. Her family had moved to Levittown from Hazleton a few years earlier.

Baseball playerThe Levittown Shop-a-Rama played on the major-league baseball field adjacent to the mall. During the late 1950s, the club played in a semi-professional league against teams from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. (Note recently framed housing in the background.) [Rick Pursell]

 

JFK rally; A large crowd greets Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy in October, 1960. Courtesy of the Bucks County Courier Times.

A large crowd greets Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy in October, 1960. [Bucks County Courier Times]

The Shop-a-Rama’s large parking lot was an ideal place to stage a rally. During the hotly contested 1960 Presidential campaign, both major candidates stopped in Levittown, still a potent symbol of the new America. With its significant base of urban Democrats, Levittown helped shift the political balance in traditionally Republican Bucks County.

Invitation to a rally for Republican candidate Richard M. Nixon, organized by the Bucks County Republican Committee.

Nixon button

Invitation to a rally for Republican candidate Richard M. Nixon, organized by the Bucks County Republican Committee. [Collections of the State Museum] Nixon badge. [Collections of the State Museum]

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