Levittown Kitchen

Levittown's Kitchen of the Future originally appeared in Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook

After World War II, demand for new homes by returning GIs far outstripped the tight housing market. Alfred and William Levitt pioneered the affordable suburban housing development by developing a system of preassembled sections and components, which were built on concrete slabs in an assembly-line routine. After completing the first Levittown on Long Island in New York, the Levitt brothers bought land in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The houses built by Levitt and Sons became part of the largest planned community in the country. This new suburb, with affordable prices, was built to provide housing for workers in the Philadelphia area, including U.S. Steel's Fairless Works, which opened nearby in 1952. The new suburbs combined country comforts with city conveniences. With the help of modern production and financing methods, builders like Levitt and Sons made the American dream of homeownership affordable to millions.

Brochures for Levittown promised, "Any home you select in Levittown will give you the comforts and conveniences that take the drudgery out of housekeeping." The kitchens reflected the "modern efficiency" of the new suburb and featured all major appliances, including an automatic washer and dryer. General Electric outfitted all of Levittown's homes. With the built-in kitchen, no space went to waste. Gone were the antiseptic white kitchens of earlier eras, replaced by pastels. Homeowners could also choose options like a built-in push-button "food center" with interchangeable mixer, knife sharpener, and blender attachments. A complete Levittown kitchen is in the collections of The State Museum in Harrisburg, Dauphin County.

Levittown also had a modern supermarket in the Shop-a-rama shopping center, which featured the newest in packaged foods designed to entice the housewife - instant coffee, frozen pot pies, and TV dinners. The supermarket also offered recipes such as chicken with rice and apricot stuffing * to encourage shoppers to buy additional products at the store.

* The recipe for this dish is available in the Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook

To learn more about the Levittown kitchen, go to The State Museum of Pennsylvania's Levittown, PA: Building the Suburban Dream online exhibit.


The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA
The State Museum demonstrates that Pennsylvania's story is America's story.
Note: the Levittown kitchen exhibit is currently in storage.

For Further Reading

pa-trail-of-history-cookbook-sm.gif Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook
Edited by Kyle R. Weaver, Diane B. Reed, and Fred Lauver
Forward by William Woys Weaver

Stackpole Books and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
state-museum-toh.gif The State Museum of Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Trail of History Guide
by Sharon Hernes Silverman

Stackpole Books and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Levittown Kitchen