Lakewood, California
© Estate of William Garnett

William A. Garnett
American, 1950
Gelatin silver prints

2000.32.24 - 2000.32.29

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I was hired commercially to illustrate the growth of that housing project. I didn't approve of what they were doing. Seventeen thousand houses with five floor plans, and they all looked alike, and there was not a tree in sight when they got through.
--William Garnett

Lakewood, located on the outskirts of Los Angeles, was the location for the second major postwar housing development ever built in the United States. Some 17,500 tract houses were constructed assembly-line style on 3,500 acres of cleared farmland. Mass production made the houses affordable, so a greater number of people could take part in the American dream of home ownership.

The developers hired William Garnett to document different phases of the subdivision's construction from his Cessna airplane. He often photographed his subjects early in the day, so the angled light would emphasize their otherwise flat-looking forms. The six photographs serve a utilitarian purpose and but also demonstrate Garnett's impeccable sense of design.

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