The Fad of the Forties.
The suburban building craze of the 1940s transformed American society. The war created an enormous housing shortage, which prompted the postwar construction boom that built suburbia. Housing starts went from 114,000 in 1944 to an all-time high of 1,692,000 in 1950. This massive construction of single-family suburban houses was largely subsidized by the federal government. The 1944 GI Bill of Rights created a program that provided federally insured loans to veterans and encouraged private investment in the housing mortgage market. Tax benefits also favored homeowners in the 1940s. Government-insured mortgages subsidized the building of single houses on large suburban tracts such as Levittown on Long Island. A veteran could buy a house in this suburb of New York City with no down payment and a thirty-year mortgage with payments of fifty-six dollars per month, far less than the rent for the average apartment in...
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