Mom tunes us in to “Leisurama” now on PBS

Mom tells us check our local PBS listings for a new documentary, “Leisurama.” It’s the story of a 1963 vacation-home development in Montauk, NY. Read about it below– there’s also a book (different author) — and a little bit of from YouTube, too.

Summertime – and the living is easy, especially if you have one of these cool homes. Thanks, Mom!

From the documentary website:

The vacation culture of the late 1950s and early 1960s has become a unique slice of Cold War period Americana. World War II veterans now had families. Their children were teenagers. The American middle class was at its prime. At the same time man was faced with the realization of an atomic age, where opposing nations, steeped in vastly different ideologies, could destroy each other at will. The United States and the Soviet Union became gripped in a technological and social race. This battle affected the soul of every citizen, and revealed itself in unusual ways.

On July 24, 1959, Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev spent hours publicly debating cultural ideology at the American National Exhibit in Moscow. What was the catalyst of this argument? An all-American kitchen, designed by architect Stanley Klein, Andrew Geller and Raymond Loewy Associates.

The Moscow house became the prototype for a 1963 housing development dubbed “Leisurama.” A full-scale model of the house was built on the 9th floor of Macy’s Herald Square store in Manhattan. The homes were to be built in Montauk, NY and came fully furnished down to the toothbrush. Some models sold for $12,995. The marketing approach was genius.

One woman reported stopping into Macy’s to buy a brassiere and walking out with a house.

The Leisurama story is one of ambition, creative marketing, and a desire to leave the daily grind behind and escape to a fun, playful utopia. It is a story about a post-war nation searching for peace and diversion on the home front. It is a story about the clash of ideologies. It is a story about suntans, fishing, and outdoor barbecues.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


  1. Pencils says

    Darn it, I missed it! I’ll have to find it online. My family has been going to Montauk in the summer since the early years of the 20th century. When my great-grandmother got her driver’s license as a teen (1915, maybe?) she piled her cousins in the car and drove from Manhattan to Montauk, a major drive in those days. There weren’t any highways–I’m sure what the roads were like at all in the Hamptons back then. She was spunky. She moved out there full-time in the 1940s. Now my sister owns a cottage a few doors down from what was Nana Lulu’s and we all love spending time there. Montauk’s a special place, even if it’s now being re-invaded by the Hamptons crowd.

  2. chriss says



    I just got back from my yearly vacation. Me and my girlfriend go on a two week road trip every year. This time we headed south from St. Louis to New Orleans, east to Destin/Ft. Walton Beach Fl., north to Myrtle Beach SC., and back west to Maggie Valley/Cherokee NC. then home.

    Myrtle Beach is Amazing! We’ve been there a few times now and I love it. It is absolutely littered with vintage fifties hotels. These places are great even if you can’t bring yourself to actually stay in one because of there neat architectual design and signage. We stayed a little one called the Waikiki Village! Plus there is a permanent carnival type amusement park there!

    Cherokee is just a little town on the reservation in NC. It’s nestled in the Smokies and there are lots of streams and rivers around there. It’s very beautiful and also has lots of neat mom and pop vintage fifties motels with cool neon signs! We stayed at the Pink Motel there.

    I have a growing collection of vintage signage that I’m putting on Flickr. When I get more up I’ll let you all see.

  3. says

    Wow, Chriss, thanks for all these tips. I am itchin’ to vacation now at all these cool places. The Pink Motel? Has my name on it! And yes – when you get your photos up on flickr, let us know. I, too, have started to flickr a ton – quite addicting. My eyeballs are about to pop out of my head. Thanks!

  4. Kitschy Kimberly says

    I’ve stayed at The Pink Motel too! You can actually fish out behind the place or at least you used to be able to, it’s been a few years. Very cute family run place and so very affordable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *