The Gypsum Files

Notes on the Rock Nobody Knows

Building the American Dream

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I love these vintage films. This one captures the urgency and opportunity created by the post-World War II housing shortage and boom. It’s true, as the actors say, that house construction before the war was largely done by small contractors. Levittown and similar developments are examples of the dominance of large vertically-integrated construction companies that began in the 1950s and continues today — what the film-within-the-film calls “the dynamic catalyst.” Note how the narrator ties the explosion of suburban developments to the “pioneers” on the “prairie.”

The impact on the American landscape was enormous. From fewer than 200,000 new homes in 1945, housing starts grew to one million a year during the boom that started in 1948.  (By contrast, housing starts in 2009 were fewer than 600,000 and are just now breaking one million a year.)

And, of course — gypsum was there!

HT: USG on Facebook

Building the American Dream ca. 1956 – YouTube.

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Written by Elizabeth McCullough

June 2, 2014 at 5:00 am

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