El Dorado Hills, United States

The Not So Little Boxes of the 1950’s

Has racism originated by the people that started the neighborhoods we live in today? People should understand how suburbanization changed our world for better and for worse. The history of the “American Dream” in the 1950’s is very informative and is a big part of our history today. People should be informed that our suburban neighborhoods carried a lot of racism and oppressed certain groups from achieving the American Dream. This topic is important due to the segregation towards non-whites and an increase in crime caused by suburbanization.

Millions of homes had been built due to the end of World War II which caused economic expansion and the growth of family values. Abraham Levitt who came up with the idea with his two sons Alfred and William built the neighborhood exclusively for white people. Strictly excluding African Americans and non-whites the neighborhoods had a dark side that no one had seen before. Levittown had gone up as a prototype for mass neighborhood housing while the population had exploded. Veterans returning from the end of the war caused babies to be born left and right and the nuclear family to become more common.

Levittown was a key aspect of why population had doubled due to suburbanization. American families saw the neighborhoods as a symbol of safety and unity that was provided throughout the community. The term “Baby Boom” is used to identify a massive increase in births that follows from World War II and was very successful in creating cliche nuclear families. Adults born from 46’ to 64’, or “baby boomers”, are part of the biggest birth spike in history and about 77 million babies were born between those years in the U.S alone.  

    This mass population increase caused cities to overflow with people that worked hard for their families. Robbery and gang affiliated crimes shot through the roof as more and more neighborhoods had gone up. Police were overworked and started to show less of an assertive figure towards the community as crime rates doubled. As an alternative to these “Levittowns”, other races began looking for an alternative. Towards the mid 60’s, neighborhoods known as “the projects” were quickly built towards closer parts of the city. These apartment buildings became the bases of crime in the city. The effect the racist neighborhoods had, had caused crime to increase and create a corrupt society that isn’t safe for American families.

 Suburbanization resulted in a big increase in crime throughout the country and segregation towards non-white Americans. Even though these neighborhoods seem perfect on the outside doesn’t mean they don’t have problems on the inside. The call to action could be to recognize the effects of post war and how it can create unfairness and racism between citizens. We can also recognize that racism will never be fully executed but can be greatly diminished over time. Students reading this should know that the little boxes we see scattered across the hillside are only a bad symbol of what American values were based on.  

Article by Konor Brown & Video by Olivia Sparks

Citations:

  • Hansan, J.E. (2011). Jim Crow laws and racial segregation. Social Welfare History Project. Retrieved [4-18-2018] from    http://socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/eras/civil-war-reconstruction/jim-crow-laws-andracial-segregation/

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