The birth of modern suburbia

Levittown served as model for U.S. housing, communities

During the dog days of this past summer, The Arizona Republic newspaper published a multipart essay on the growth of Phoenix. The headline over the first entry screamed with large print: "A City Explodes: Post WWII Housing Boom Pushed Phoenix Into a Mega Metro."

I had to chuckle when I perused the article, because it was all so Johnny-come-lately to me: I was lucky enough to have grown up in America’s first modern suburb, Levittown, N.Y., an adventurous, groundbreaking development that paved the way for places like Phoenix to grow into huge metroplexes.

The timing of The Arizona Republic’s story was particularly ironic because, as the series was unfolding on the pages of my morning newspaper, I was enjoying the success of having published my fifth book, "Growing Up Levittown: In a Time of Conformity, Controversy and Cultural Crisis."

I, too, was revisiting the postwar housing boom, but in the form of a memoir and social history.