Warren and Arthur Smadbeck
Warren and Arthur Smadbeck were New York City developers who had taken over their father's realty business, known as the Home Guardian Company.
They were the first suburban developers to conceive the idea of offering low-cost suburban homesites to the general public. In the early 1900’s they bought and developed tracts close to suburban railroad stations. Later, as the public took to the highways, they created developments in the suburbs adjoining main roads, building lakes and recreation facilities which the purchasers could enjoy.
They were known in the media as "The Henry Fords of Real Estate" because of their style of making vacation land and home ownership possible for the average person.
The New York Daily Mirror, a popular daily tabloid newspaper, joined the effort with the Smadbeck Brothers and published advertisements for The Lake Parsippany project. The Mirror Holding Company purchased the farmland that would later become a lake community of 7,916 Lots that measured 20’ x 100’, a typical New York City lot size. At an advertised price of $98.50 each, the project was an instant success.
The Smadbeck brothers continued to build recreational communities in the area. Some of their developments include Lake Parsippany in Morris County, NJ, Lake Carmel in Putnam County, New York, Lake Peekskill in the town of Putnam Valley, NY, Putnam Lake in Patterson, NY, Mastic Park, Mastic Beach, North Shore Beach, Fire Island Pines and several other developments in Suffolk County, Long Island, and Laval-Ouest a district in Laval, Quebec, Canada.
The projects were targeted towards average middle class families and were intended to be communities of summer bungalows focused on recreational activities involving man-made lakes.Over time, the firm of Warren and Arthur Smadbeck, created over 60 developments throughout The United States and Canada, sold more than 700,000 lots in 30 states, built over 75,000 homes and created a permanent population of over 500,000 people.
Arthur Smadbeck an his wife Ruth Smadbeck help revitalize The Heckscher Foundation for Children.
Arthur Smadbeck donated his time and efforts to disposing of losing foundation assets, consolidating others and creating a profitable platform on which he positioned the foundation to support major outside charitable efforts.
Ruth Smadbeck began as a volunteer in the 1930s and ran the foundation for over 50 years, including its programs of dance, orchestra, exercise, swimming, the purchase and distribution of necessities for indigent children, a kindergarten, a theater, a craft room, a senior lounge, a photography group, a library, and a thrift shop. The Communications and Learning Center at Marymount Manhattan College is named for Ruth Smadbeck.
The Ruth and Arthur Smadbeck-Heckscher East Playground in Central Park, New York is also named after them.