*This piece by Kevin Deeny has been updated from its original publication in the Levittown Leader.*
Levittown, Pennsylvania has always had an identity problem. It is as Dianne Harris notes in her book “The Second Suburb: Levittown, PA”, that our Levittown came after the construction of Levittown, New York and thus, at least historically, has always existed in its shadow. Levittown, PA is not actually a town at all, but a rather large development of 17,311 homes spread across four municipalities: Bristol Township, Falls Township, Middletown Township, and Tullytown Borough. However, Levittown is categorized as a Census Designated Place (CDP) by the U.S. Census Bureau. It is defined as such “…to provide data for settled concentrations of population that are identifiable by name…”. And yet I’ve noticed as I drive around Middletown Township that “Levittown” is disappearing.
The scale of Levittown as a development project was huge and like most large projects, was partitioned into smaller development blocks or sections that could be separately managed. Eventually these sections each became named neighborhoods. Its scale made it a confusing place to navigate, particularly if you were unaware of some of the naming conventions as you travel through over 600 named streets. Every ‘section’ was given a unique name and the name of every interior street in that section began with the same letter of the alphabet. Thus, every street name in Goldenridge began with the letter G. Given the large number of houses and sections (there would be 41 in all), some letters of the alphabet were repeated in the section names (e.g. Forsythia Gate and Farmbrook).
To aide in navigation for someone searching for a particular street, every interior street on the west side of Levittown was a “road” (i.e. Gentle Road located in Goldenridge) and on the east side a “lane” (i.e. Graystone Lane located in Greenbrook). Accurate signage was a must then as it is today if you hope to navigate Levittown without a GPS. However, I’ve been noting that in Middletown Township, the name “Levittown” has now been dropped from several neighborhood section signs. I just can’t imagine why.