Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Racism and Real Estate In Levittown
Racism was so rampant in Levittown that the pristine Cape Cod cottages in the country's most famous chain of suburbs might as well have had signs in their windows proclaiming: "whites only." In 1957, Bea and Lew Wechsler, a Jewish couple living in Pennsylvania's Levittown, exposed the dark underside of cookie-cutter suburbia by buying the house next door for a black family (the Myers), circumventing real estate practices designed to enforce segregation. Havoc ensued: Bill and Daisy Myers received threatening phone calls, crosses were burned on their lawn, and angry neighbors rioted and displayed Confederate flags in their cars. Journalist David Kushner chronicles all this in the book Levittown, which he and the Wechslers themselves will be discussing at the museum tomorrow night.