Levittown Willingboro, NJ (US)

Levitt & Sons


  • Pierijn van der Putt TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


Following the Second World War, the United States faced a huge housing shortage. During the war and the preceding Great Depression of the 1930s, housing production had been reduced to fewer than 100,000 new dwellings per year. The sudden influx of soldiers returning from the war led to an acute housing shortage at the end of the war. By 1945, 3.6 million American families had no house or apartment.

However, in the years after the war, the combination of legislation (the 1949 Housing Act, which stipulated 810,000 new dwellings be built annually for a period of six years), policy (cheap loans for war veterans) and a rapidly growing economy led to a boom in house building that would greatly determine the face of America. On the outskirts of cities, suburbs featuring detached dwellings – many with garages and front and back gardens – on meandering streets emerged one after the other. This urban low-rise model was called ‘suburbia’ and it became the symbol of the American way of life, praised and portrayed in the popular media, diligently studied by social scientists and looked at askance by architects and urban planners. And as suburbia symbolizes the post-war American way of living, so Levittown symbolizes suburbia itself.

Author Biography

Pierijn van der Putt, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Pierijn van der Putt (Eindhoven, 1973) studied Architecture at Delft University of Technology, the University of Illinois in Chicago and Drexel University in Philadelphia. He worked as an editor for Dutch architectural magazine de Architect for seven years before returning to Delft. There, in addition to being an editor for DASH (Delft Architectural Studies on Housing), he teaches academic research and architectural design for the group of Architecture and Dwelling. His particular interest lies in creative writing and in improving academic writing skills.