Day 67 – William Levitt
William Jaird Levitt was an American real-estate developer widely credited as the father of modern American suburbia. He came to symbolize the new suburban growth with his use of mass-production techniques to construct large developments of houses selling for under $10,000. Many other relatively inexpensive suburban developments soon appeared throughout the country. While he did not invent the building of communities of affordable single-family homes within driving distance of major areas of employment, his innovations in providing affordable housing popularized this type of planned community in the years following World War II. His legacy remains criticized for its long-term effects of replacing farmland with suburban sprawl.
His nicknames included "The King Of Suburbia" and "Inventor of the Suburb." At his height, when he was building one suburban house every 16 minutes, he compared his successes to those of Henry Ford's automobile assembly line. In achieving his housing development success, he also became one of the visible examples of the prevailing business practice of many contemporary real estate developers of the era to cater to the common racism of his intended clientele, developing "white-only" enclaves in the neighborhoods he created. Environmentalists also find issue with the suburban lifestyle he helped to create.
Historian Kenneth Jackson wrote of Levitt & Sons: "The family that had the greatest impact on postwar housing in the United States was Abraham Levitt and his sons, William and Alfred, who ultimately built more than 180,000 houses and turned a cottage industry into a major manufacturing process".