History of Long Island

Long Island, has had a long recorded history from the first European settlements in the seventeenth century to today. Much influenced by construction of railroads in the 19th century, it experienced growth in tourism as well as the development of towns and villages into some of the first modern suburbs in the United States,

American Indian settlements

At the the time of European contact, the Lenape people (named the "Delaware" by Europeans) inhabited the western end of the Island, and spoke the Munsee dialect of the Algonquian language family. Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European to record an encounter with these people when he entered what is now New York Bay in 1524. The eastern portion of the island was inhabited by speakers of the Mohegan-Montauk-Narragansett language group of the same linguistic family, representing their ties to the aboriginal peoples inhabiting what is now Connecticut and Rhode Island. The area was central to the production of Wampum, providing the resources necessary for its creation.

For many years a book published by amateur anthropologist Silas Wood decades after Native American were effectively removed from the island or assimilated, fraudulantly asserted there were several American Indian tribes that traditionally lived on Long Island, which he collectively called Metoac. Modern scientific scholarship shows that there were two linguistic groups representing two cultural identities on the island, as noted above, not "13 tribes" as asserted by Wood and still held by some today. [Strong, John A. "Algonquian Peoples of Long Island" Heart of the Lakes Publishing (March 1997). ISBN 978-1557871480] [Bragdon, Kathleen. "The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Northeast". Columbia University Press (January 15, 2002). ISBN 978-0231114523.] Today the Montaukett and Shinnecock, two Native American groups with ties to aboriginal inhabitants, still live on the island.

A Native American name for Long Island is Paumanok, meaning "The Island that Pays Tribute". More powerful tribes in the surrounding areas forced the relatively peaceful Long Islanders to give tributes and payment to avoid attacks.Fact|date=September 2008


Dutch and English Settlements

The western portion of Long Island was settled by the Dutch, who named it Lange Eylant. They also had early settlements on what are now Manhattan and Staten Island.

The eastern region was settled by English Puritans from New Haven, Connecticut, who arrived in Southold on October 21, 1640. Under the leadership of the Reverend John Youngs, with Peter Hallock , the families of Barnabas Horton, John Budd, John Conklin, William Wells, John Tuthill, Thomas Mapes, Richard Terry, Matthias Corwin, Robert Akerly, Zachariah Corey and Isaac Arnold planted the first English and first white settlement in eastern Long Island. They purchased the land in the summer of 1640 from an Indian tribe named the Corchaugs. The Corchaug name of what became Southold was Yenniock. English settlers from Lynn, Massachusetts acquired land in what was to become Southampton in December 1640, and held their first assembly meeting of settlers there in April 1641. Southampton was settled shortly thereafter. Dutch complaints did not matter. Officials of the Colony of New Netherland did not make immediate efforts to expel the English from such a remote place.

Southold remained under the jurisdiction of New Haven until 1662, and of Connecticut until 1674. When the British handed over the colony of New York to the Dutch in 1673, the eastern towns, including Southold, Easthampton and Southampton, refused to submit. The Dutch attempted to force the matter by arms. The English colonists repelled them with assistance from Connecticut settlers.

When New York became English again in 1674, these eastern towns, whose people were Yankee by background, preferred to stay part of Connecticut, and Connecticut agreed, but the government of the Duke of York forced the matter. Governor Sir Edmund Andros threatened to eliminate their rights to land if they did not yield, which they did by 1676. [Richard Mather Bayles, "Sketches of Suffolk County, Historical and Descriptive, with a Historical Outline of Long Island", 1874] This was chiefly the result of the Duke of York's grudge against Connecticut, as New Haven had hidden three of the judges who sentenced the Duke's father King Charles I to death in 1649.

Long Island contained three of the original twelve counties of the British Province of New York organized in 1683: Kings, Queens, and Suffolk. At that time, Queens County included all of present-day Nassau County and a small portion of western Suffolk County.

Residents in Long Island towns conducted several witch hunts, including one involving the daughter of Lion Gardiner in East Hampton. Early colonial figures on the island include Wyandanch, William "Tangier" Smith, Captain William Kidd, Lion Gardiner, and John Underhill.

Revolutionary War

The Battle of Long Island, the largest Revolutionary War battle, ranged across Kings County, Long Island, now the Borough of Brooklyn in New York City. Apart from espionage and raids across Long Island Sound, there was limited military action in Queens and Suffolk Counties. Throughout most of the war, Long Island was controlled by the King's forces. As was customary, they billeted Hessian and regular troops with households around the island, who had to provide bedding and food for soldiers. In Oyster Bay, Major John André was visitingFact|date=March 2008|unlikely the headquarters of Lt. Col. James Simcoe at Raynham Hall, the family home of Robert Townsend, one of George Washington's Culper Ring spies. Townsend family legend holds that Robert's sister Sally overheard André and Simcoe discussing Benedict Arnold's treasonous plan to turn West Point over to the King's forces. [ [http://www.raynhamhallmuseum.org/history.asp Raynham Hall Museum] , accessed 2 Jun 2008. However, Simcoe occupied the house from late 1778 to early 1779 and Arnold did not obtain command of West Point until August 1780.]

During the American Revolutionary War, the island was captured by the British early on in the Battle of Long Island. Because of trading and business ties with the English, there were many Loyalists, especially in Hempstead. Yankees in northern and eastern parts of the island were more inclined to affiliation with the rebellious colonists. The island remained a British stronghold until the end of the war.

Americans conducted numerous raids on Long Island during the war, usually by whaleboats from Connecticut. The most famous raid was the Sag Harbor or Meigs Raid in 1777. Possibly the last battle of the American Revolution was the "Boat Fight" of December, 1782. [Frederic Mather, "The Refugees of 1776 from Long Island to Connecticut", Albany: J.B. Lyon, 1913, 225-8, 204-8] Close family and trading ties with England and New England even after independence may account for similarities between English accents and the New York Accent, most notably the non-rhotic pronunciation.

After the war many Loyalists abandoned their homes and left for Upper Canada rather than live under the new regime. Some were run off, as their rebellious neighbors had taken out grudges on Loyalists and were not glad to have them stay. The British tried to settle them with land in areas where it wanted to encourage development. The Loyalists had many difficult years starting again on the frontier of Canada.

19th Century

In the early 19th century suburbanization started modestly on Long Island when reliable steam ferry service allowed prosperous Wall Street workers to get to new Brooklyn Heights homes in time for dinner. Rural traffic was served by the new Brooklyn and Jamaica Plank road through Jamaica Pass, among others. After the American Civil War, streetcar suburbs sprawled out onto the outwash plain of central and southern Kings County. Trolleys also brought workers from other parts of western Queens to Long Island City jobs.

The Long Island Rail Road was begun as a combined ferry-rail route to Boston via Greenport, with the line completed in 1844. It built rail lines from Manhattan to Coney Island, Far Rockaway and Long Beach to service the beach front resorts. As the rail road grew, it opened up over 50 stations in (present-day) Nassau County and over 40 in Suffolk Country, laying the foundation for the future suburbanization of the island. [MTA Long Island RailRoad Map, (C) 2004]

By the late 19th century, Long Island had become a summer refuge for residents of New York City. The Landing, in Glen Cove, is named for the spot where 19th century steam ship lines would disembark summer visitors, not far from where J. P. Morgan had his summer mansion. Long Island was the home of a branch of the prominent Roosevelt family, such as author Robert Roosevelt, and his more famous nephew, President Theodore Roosevelt, who built a summer home at Sagamore Hill on the North Shore of Nassau County - on the outskirts of Oyster Bay. Roosevelt Field was named after Quentin Roosevelt, Theodore's son. Long Island was also the home of the wealthy Vanderbilt family and late 19th century financiers and industrialists, such as John Paul Getty, Pratt and others.

The 1883 opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, followed by other bridges and tunnels to Manhattan, made the island more accessible. From 1854 until 1896 all of Kings County was gradually annexed to the City of Brooklyn. Late in the 19th century, most of Queens was still rural and agricultural. Following an 1894 vote, on January 1, 1898 Kings County (Brooklyn) and part of Queens County were consolidated into the City of Greater New York. Kings and Queens survive as county names.

The easternmost 280 square miles (725 km²) of Queens County, which were not part of the consolidation plan, [

cite news
pages=p 9, 620 words
date=1894-09-13 (before vote)
publisher=The New York Times
quote=The question of the Greater New-York, which is also to be submitted to the people at this coming election, involves the proposition to unite in one city the following cities, counties, and towns: New-York City, Long Island City, in Queens County; the County of Kings, (Brooklyn;) the County of Richmond, (S.I.;) the towns of Flushing, Newtown, Jamaica, in Queens County; the town of Westchester, in Westchester County, and all that portion of the towns of East Chester and Pelham which lies south of a straight line drawn from a point where the northerly line of the City of New-York meets the centre line of the Bronx River, to the middle of the channel between Hunter's and Glen Islands, in Long Island Sound, and that part of the town of Hempstead, in Queens County, which is westerly of a straight line drawn from the south-easterly point of the town of Flushing in a straight line to the Atlantic Ocean.
] [cite news
date=1894-11-08 (before results of Queens vote known)
publisher=NY Times
quote=The increase in area and population that New-York will acquire if consolidation becomes a fact will become evident by a glance at the following table... Flushing... *Part of the town of Hempstead... Jamaica... Long Island City ... Newtown... The townships in Queens County that are to be included in the Greater New-York have not been heard from yet...
note= no mention of Town of Oyster Bay, nor Town of North Hempstead, nor any plan for ALL of Town of Hempstead, indeed only part of Hempstead was ever planned to become part of Queens
] [cite news
title=Vote for Greater New York
date=1894-10-16 (before election)
publisher=The New York Times
] [cite news
date=1894-11-04 (before election)
publisher=The New York Times
note= again, no mention of Town of Oyster Bay, nor Town of North Hempstead, nor any plan for ALL of Town of Hempstead, indeed only part of Hempstead was ever planned to become part of Queens
] [cite news
pages=page 15, 1267 words
publisher=The New York Times
] [cite news
title=REPORT FAVORS CONSOLIDATION.; An Argument Against the Claims of the Resubmissionists.
pages= Page 1, 5318 words
publisher=The New York Times
] [cite web
title=Nassau's Difficult Birth; Eastern factions of Queens win the fight to separate after six decades of wrangling
author=Geoffrey Mohan (Staff Writer)
quote=North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and the rest of Hempstead were excluded from the vote.

] formed a separate county in 1899. "Nassau", one of several names by which the island was once known, was revived to represent the newly established county. The figurative "separation" of Brooklyn and Queens from Long Island in popular usage must have begun around this time, since the Battle of Long Island and Long Island City (both nowadays in "The City") both allude to their geographical location on the island.

Growth in 20th century

Early in the 20th century, elevated and subway trains allowed masses of workers to commute to Manhattan jobs from Queens and eastern Brooklyn, which offered cheaper and larger housing but were far beyond reasonable walking distance. Immigrants spilling over from New York City made comfortable lives on Long Island. The immigration waves of Southern and Eastern Europe have been pivotal in creating the diversity on Long Island that many other American regions lack. These immigrations are reflected in the large Irish American, Italian American and Jewish-American populations. Typically the immigrants lived in the city first or the more urban western parts of the island, and their children and grandchildren moved further east. Late 20th century immigrants, by contrast, often settled directly in Nassau County and other suburban areas.

When racing was banned on public roads, one of the Vanderbilts opened the Long Island Motor Parkway in 1908 from Kissena (Queens) to Lake Ronkonkoma. This limited access motor highway was one of the first in the world.

In the 1920s and 1930s, suburbanization reached beyond the western end of the island, and Long Island began the transformation from backwoods and farms to the paradigm of the American suburb. Under its president Robert Moses, the Long Island State Park Commission spanned the island with parkways and state parks. Jones Beach was the most famous, "the crown jewel in Moses' State Park System". Long Island quickly became New York City's retreat - with millions of people going to and from the city to the new state parks. As the years wore on, development started to follow the parkways and the railroad lines, with commuter towns springing up first along the railroad, then the roadways: the Southern State Parkway, the Northern State Parkway, and, from the 1960s on, the Long Island Expressway.

After World War II, Long Island's population skyrocketed, mostly in Nassau County and western Suffolk County. People who worked and lived in New York City moved out to Long Island in the new developments built during the post-war boom. The most famous post-war development was the town of Levittown. Positioned along the Wantagh Parkway in the area formally known as Island Trees, the area became the first place where a developer built numerous houses at a clip, providing great opportunity for GIs' returning home to build families.

After the success of Levittown, other areas modeled what some people criticize as "suburban sprawl" and Nassau County became more densely populated than its eastern counterpart, Suffolk County. As the years wore on into the 1960s and 70's however, sprawl sent development east of the county line- with areas such as Deer Park and Commack seeing rapid development. As you drive out east along routes such as New York Route 27 (Sunrise Highway) along the south shore or New York State Route 25 (Jericho Turnpike) or New York State Route 25A you will see development start to spread out, even turning back to the potato and sod farms that once were east of and including towns such as Mount Sinai.

Long Island and 9/11

Long Island residents suffered many losses in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. A large portion of the island's residents commute daily to Manhattan for work. In the days after the attacks, many of the victims' cars remained parked in the same spots at Long Island Rail Road stations- leaving a visual reminder of the intimate nature of the tragedy for other commuters. On a per capita basis, the village of Garden City lost the most people in the attacks. Almost all of Long Island's volunteer firefighters were called to assist in evacuation efforts or quell the underground fires that occurred after the Twin Towers fell. Due to extremely clear weather, many in Eastern Long Island, including places like Old Inlet and Fire Island, could see the huge clouds of smoke rising for days from the ashes of the World Trade Center.

Aviation history

Long Island is important in the history of aviation. Roosevelt Airfield was located in Garden City, Nassau County. From this airport, Charles Lindbergh took off on his historic 1927 nonstop Orteig Prize flight from New York to Paris, France. Roosevelt Airfield was closed in 1951. Its land was redeveloped for commercial uses, including a shopping mall, Hofstra University, and numerous mid-density housing developments.

Long Island was also the location of major historic aerospace companies. Farmingdale-based Republic Aviation, for instance, manufactured the famed P-47 fighter aircraft during the World War II period. Grumman Aircraft, with operations in Bethpage and Calverton, produced the F-14 U.S. Navy fighter during the 1970s and 1980s. It was also the chief contractor on the Apollo Lunar Module that landed men on the moon. They received the contract on 7 November, 1962, and ultimately built 13 lunar modules (LMs). One is on display at the Cradle of Aviation Museum at the former Mitchel Air Force Base on the Hempstead Plains of Long Island.

Another important historic Long Island airport was Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. Established in the early 1930s, it was New York City's first commercial airport. It was the terminus of historic flights by Amelia Earhart, Roscoe Turner, Wiley Post, and Howard Hughes. Its runways were closed in the 1970s. The property was turned into part of a wildlife refuge.

Two of New York City's main airports, LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, are located on the geographic Island. There have been more than ten major air disasters. The three following planes all crashed in either Nassau or Suffolk County: In 1965 Eastern Airlines Flight 663 crashed into Jones Beach State Park after take-off. In 1990, Avianca Flight 52 crashed into Cove Neck, NY, killing 73 passengers. In 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded over water off the coast of the small hamlet of East Moriches. Fatalities totaled 230 people in the disaster. A monument to those lost stands at Smith Point County Park on Fire Island in Suffolk County.


See also

* History of the Long Island Rail Road

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