Monday, December 18, 2017

Revisiting 2 Flax Lane, Levittown, N.Y., and Map-Questing a Portion of Levittown, Pa., 1959 & 2017

Aerial view of the eastern portion of Levittown, Pa., looking west to the intersection Mill Creek and Levittown Parkways and St. Paul's Episcopal Church, circa 1959.

This picture is the subject of this entry.

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Some years ago -- well, just over 8 in November 2009 in this entry -- I wrote about Levittown, New York, specifically, the first of seven "Levittown" suburban housing developments and the one that more or less kicked off the post-World War II suburban housing explosion.

Aerial view, Levittown, N.Y., 1948.

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That article was actually based on an earlier -- October 2007 -- New York Times article about Levittown (on the then-60th anniversary of the arrival of the first families) that included a discussion (and picture) of what the article said was perhaps the only one (or at least one of the very few) that was virtually unchanged from when it was constructed in 1947, namely, the house at 2 Flax Lane.

Caption: Polly Dwyer, president of the Levittown Historical Society, in front of a rare Levittown house: one that remains basically unchanged. Credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times

This is the photo from the above-linked October 2007 New York Times article.

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It is now 10 years after that article appeared and I don't know if 2 Flax Lane looks the same -- the Google street view is from August 2011 and it looked the same at that point, except the door and a few of the tiny bushes in front of the house had changed (two had gotten bigger and two were gone).

Google street view, 2 Flax Lane, Levittown, N.Y.,
August 2011.

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I noted in that Nov. 2009 entry that The Onion's book Our Dumb Century had an article dated April 7, 1948 about Levittown, New York's opening headlined: Antlike Conformity Now Affordable (I can't find an online link for that article).

Historical street view, Levittown, N.Y., date uncertain.

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Anyway, the Wikipedia article on "generic" Levittown -- that is, the seven large U.S. suburban housing developments built by Levitt & Sons -- features an aerial photograph of Levittown, Pennsylvania (the second of the seven) from 1959.

Google map outline of Levittown, New York.

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I've often wondered what set of streets are featured in that aerial photo (see lead image). This is a bit tricky since while both Levittown, N.Y., and Levittown, Pa., both have nearly the same populations -- roughly 52,000 versus 53,000, respectively, in the 2010 Census, the Pennsylvania one is 10.2 square miles while the New York one is 6.9 square miles and the former has a broader sprawl and maze of streets.

Google map outline of Levittown, Pennsylvania.

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Well, tonight, after much squinting and thinking, I finally placed the location of the aerial view, as shown and explained below.

Google street view of the eastern portion of Levittown, Pa., focused on the area centered on Pinewood Drive with St. Paul's Episcopal Church highlighted.

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The 1959 aerial view shown in the lead image is encompassed -- more ore less -- within the orange line boundaries drawn on the Google street map shown below. It is looking west along Pinewood Drive (the curvy street that bends off to the left) with the set of north-south running streets including the last complete one visible with a slight "hook" to the right) being Pleasant Lane. I verified this by looking at the Google street view and observing that there are, in fact, three houses along the north-side of Pinewood Drive between Pleasant Lane and Pebble Lane.


Now I realize the Google street map outline of the boundaries of Levittown, Pa., suggest that particular area is just outside of the boundary of Levittown, Pa., but I am assuming that the actual boundary is along the north side of the Pinewood Drive.

Also, the Google street view to the south shows what is Walt Disney Elementary School.

Entrance way to Walt Disney Elementary School, Levittown, Tullytown Borough, Pa., Google street view, September 2012.

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The way I determined the location, though, was the church prominently visible in the 1959 aerial picture. I was able to determine that it is St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Both the church and school were there in 1959. The church is actually on Pinewood Drive because that road forms a loop around that portion of Levittown, Pa. In the case of the school, it has an address on Lakeside Drive although the north side of its property fronts onto Pinewood Drive.

Yours truly in my apartment, Washington, D.C., 10:56PM December 17, 2017.

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OK, that's all for now. I'm going to bed. I'm unsure if I'm going to the gym tomorrow (Monday) or Tuesday. That will determine which day (late night) I post my next blog entry.

--Regulus

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