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Prognosis

By Robert Amato.

On the gentle side of dreams lies reality.  The American suburb was proposed as a post war panacea.  Green lawns, security, private ownership were catchwords for the future.  Returning servicemen looked for change and found it in secure bedroom communities.  William Levitt was seen as a modern prophet leading his people east onto Long Island.

There are inherent weaknesses in any innovative project.  Levittown was no exception.  Village Greens, a community pool system, localized shopping were not entirely practical.  This was never a quaint New England Village.  There were elements of bias.  Neighborhood tapestries remained white on white for some time.

 I certainly have pleasant adolescent memories of the Levitt experiment, days roaming about, exploring new neighborhoods, meeting new friends.  I learned to swim at the pool, barbecued every summer evening, once hit a baseball out of sight at Northside School field.  The community library offered opportunity to grow and fantasize.  Entertainment was always in close proximity.  A date was inexpensive, the evening quick to materialize.

 Levittown reflected an air of communal commitment.  I knew every neighbor.  Politics were conservative but tolerant, social commitment evident. The 1960s proved difficult for many parents.  Civil rights, an unpopular war added to the confusion caused by changing mores and customs.  Core values, although challenged, remained intact. Devotion to cause and country never lessened.  A community of veterans sent its sons into harm’s way. I remember friends leaving for Viet Nam, parties, letters, good and bad news.

We live in changing times.  The dream exists but this time tempered by an insistent reality.  Village Greens are often empty.  Business does not flourish in an insular world.  Shopping centers, access to entertainment and available transportation can make summer afternoons at the pool superfluous.  The question remains, what type of community do we hope to maintain?  Is it possible to keep the original Levitt concept financially viable?

There have been recent efforts to change our demographic. Plans for housing developments, businesses are frequently proposed. Tax pressures would certainly be alleviated. The question remains at what price?  Can a community maintain its pastoral innocence?  In 1960 a child could ride his bike for miles without seeing any traffic, encountering a single street light.  Perhaps it is time to consider cultural preservation. Dreams need not remain the province of children alone.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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