After the hardships and deprivations of World War II, the 1950s promised prosperity and a better life for many Americans. More families earned more money, bought cars, and bought or rented their own homes. New government home construction and mortgage programs helped draw builders and white residents away from aging cities. Massive new developments such as Park Forest, Illinois, promised affordable housing, open spaces, safe streets, and similar neighbors.
Depression and war had created a postwar housing crisis. To help make decent, affordable housing available, the federal government passed laws that encouraged suburban housing development. Middle- and working-class families rushed to buy or rent homes in the new developments. Early Park Forest residents found unfinished houses and muddy streets, but that didnt deter the moving vans. By 1950, more than 8,000 people lived in the two-year-old development. By 1960, Park Forest had nearly 30,000 residents.