Mount Sinai, New York

Mount Sinai, New York
—  CDP  —
Mount Sinai Harbor
U.S. Census Map
Mount Sinai, New York is located in New York
Mount Sinai, New York
Location within the state of New York
Coordinates: 40°56′19″N 73°1′7″W / 40.93861°N 73.01861°W / 40.93861; -73.01861Coordinates: 40°56′19″N 73°1′7″W / 40.93861°N 73.01861°W / 40.93861; -73.01861
Country United States
State New York
County Suffolk
Area
 - Total 5.7 sq mi (14.6 km2)
 - Land 5.3 sq mi (13.6 km2)
 - Water 0.4 sq mi (1.0 km2)
Elevation 33 ft (10 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 8,734
 - Density 1,657.7/sq mi (640.1/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 11766
Area code(s) 631
FIPS code 36-49066
GNIS feature ID 0957909

Mount Sinai is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) in Suffolk County, New York, USA. The population was 8,734 at the 2000 census.

Contents

Geography

Mount Sinai is located at 40°56′19″N 73°01′07″W / 40.938532°N 73.018668°W / 40.938532; -73.018668 (40.938532, -73.018668)[1], bordering the Long Island Sound on the north shore of Long Island. According to the United States Census Bureau, the community has a total area of 14.7 km2 (5.7 mi2). Of this figure, 13.6 km2 (5.3 mi2) is land and 1.0 km2 (0.4 mi2) of it (6.89%) is water. Mount Sinai is bordered by Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson Station, Miller Place, and Coram.

History

Mount Sinai's Cedar Beach at the time of an annual carnival

Geologic origin

The glaciers from the north deposited sediments that now make up the foundation of Long Island. As the global climate warmed, melting ice and flowing waters eroded the dropped glacial sediments into the shape of a land called "Pamanouk" or the island we call Long Island. The island's northern bluffs were interrupted by several rivers and a number of harbors. One of these is now Mount Sinai Harbor.

After the glaciers receded, a barren land was available for habitation. Plants, animals and fungi invaded the landscape. A successional parade of different ecological communities developed through time on Long Island. New flora and fauna flourished. Human explorers noted these good places on the island. Soon other humans started to establish permanent communities.

Native Americans

Nonowatuck, stream that dries up, is the first name given to the area we now know as Mt. Sinai. This native American name was used by the members of the Seatocots family of native Americans who lived here. Numerous archeological sites document that the harbor of Mt. Sinai was home for human residents for thousands of years.

An investigation of an archeological site at Hopkin's Landing, on Pipe Stave Hollow Road, yielded features that provided clues to these first residents. Shallow oval basins were lined with fire-cracked rock. The basins contained shell, bone fragments and debitage from stone tool-making. Evidently these first residents enjoyed deer and bay scallops. Charcoal fragments from this site dated back approximately 4,000 years. Thus, native Americans, the first residents of Mt. Sinai, lived in a self-sustaining community from about 2000 B.C. until the late 17th century. They were nourished by the bounty of the land and the harbor.

Colonial settling

Colonial settlers living in what is now Setauket began negotiations with the local native Americans to buy the lands east of Setauket. At that time the area was called Old Mans (Ould Mans). Finally in 1664 the settlers were successful in obtaining a deed to this land from the Indians. This deed which is in the records of Brookhaven Township, reads as follows:

Massatewse and the Sunke Squaw. native proprietors and owners of all the lands belonging to the tracte of land commonly cawled the Ould Mans. doe freely and absoleutilly sell and will defend the title to the inhabitants of Setawke and their successors forever for and in consideration of a certaine valey of goods here under written to be delivered within one month after the date hereof as witness our hands this 10 of June, 1664.
Massatewse X Mark
The Sunke Sqaw X Mark
Signed in the presence of us:
John Cooper
Richard Howell
foure cotes, foure payre of stockeing. too chestes of powder, tenn bares of led. sixe howse. tenn hatchetts and tenn knives, mens size cotes, foure sherts, 3 pekle kettles.
This is a trew coppey of the original
of attest
Rog Barton recorder
The above written record the contents thereof, with all the severall kinds of pay reed excepting kettle howse and hatches by Mayho and Massatuse.

After the initial purchase of land, various parcels of the territory were divided and given to individuals. Other lands were held in common for later subdivision. Once lots were distributed, trading began, allowing individuals to accumulate larger pieces of property in the area. Colonial families settled on these lands and established farms and a few businesses. The purchase and division of the land into private and public land in 1664 laid the foundation for the land ownership and development now seen in the Hamlet of Mt. Sinai. The vast majority of land is in private ownership, but the Town of Brookhaven owns and manages the common lands of most of Mt. Sinai Harbor and Cedar Beach.

Hamlet's first name and boundary

An aerial view of Cedar Beach

The origin of the name Old Mans is not known. Several legends exist as to the source of the name. The most prominent concerns John Scott, a notorious wheeler-dealer of the 17th century and Major John Gotherson, an elderly Englishman looking to buy land in the new world. John Scott assured Major Gotherson he could obtain property for him but never closed a deal even though Gotherson had given him money to do so. "Old" Major Gotherson living in England, thought he owned the land. He sent representatives to claim the land he thought he owned. The native Americans refused to turn over the land since they hadn't closed a deal with Scott. Local people reportedly started to refer to the land as "the Old Mans" lands the news of the swindle was discussed.

Although the exact boundary of Old Mans is not known, it is said to have reached from what is now Port Jefferson to Rocky Point. By 1770 the name came to mean the area bounded by the Sound to the north, Pipe Stave Hollow to the east, approximately "Rte 25A" to the south and Crystal Brook Hollow to the west.

During the American Revolution, the area and Old's Harbor were under British control. However, because of its remote location the British did not have troops stationed here. Many citizens moved their families to Connecticut during British occupation. During the course of the war, American agents visited local patriots and received information, clothing, supplies and money to support the cause.

Pipe Stave Hollow is located along the eastern border of the hamlet. The brook that "dries up" empties into the harbor at Hopkin's landing. The name is said to be derived from the many wooden staves which were cut in the area to be used to make large "staves" that were used to construct wooden pipes. Pipe Stave Hollow Road winds its way along the harbor and to the beach. During the revolutionary war, Col. Benjamin Tallmadge used this beach as a landing and hiding place for his eight whaling boats. He set off along Pipe Stave Hollow Road and traveled south to attack the British at Fort St. George in Mastic. The route he and his men took is now marked as a historic trail.

Hamlet's name change and development

In 1840 the people of Old Mans applied for a post office. Evidently Old Mans was not considered a proper name for the area. The name was changed to Mt. Vernon. This name was used for only a year since it was discovered there already was a Mt Vernon in New York State. Old Mans was used once again but for some unknown reason another name change occurred. The name Mount Sinai was chosen by the first postmaster, Charles Phillips. Legend says that he took his Bible and a knitting needle, closing his eyes, he opened the Bible and pointed the needle. The name closest to the needle would become the name of the area served by the first post office. Mt Sinai replaced Old Mans and is the name residents have used since 1841/1842.

Building of houses occurred in spurts. Initially most building occurred within a mile (2 km) of the harbor. Few houses were built south of North Country Road until the late 19th century. Much of the land south of North Country Road was owned and cultivated by farmers.

There is no known 17th structure still standing. The 18th century is represented by six buildings dating from 1705 to 1790. Certain of these homes have structural elements which date from the early period. The 19th century has the largest number of surviving historical structures. These can be divided into two periods, 1800-1840s and 1880-1890s. Again, some of these buildings incorporated structural elements of earlier periods.

In the first half of the 20th century the pace of building slowed. Although large tracts of farmland persisted, there were small pockets of development around the hamlet. Examples of these are the "colony" of homes built off of Pipe Stave Hollow Road, both north and south of Rte. 25A and the scattered development on Mt. Sinai and Chestnut Avenues. During this time a community was mapped but never developed just south of Rte. 25A and east of Crystal Brook Hollow Road.

New home construction in Mt. Sinai

Mount Sinai Heritage Park

It was not until the 1960s that housing developments began to occur as suburbanization spread eastward. Lands once farmed, now were used to "sprout" homes for new residents of Mt. Sinai. New residents were attracted to the area for the same reasons that the first native Americans settled in Nonowatuck.

The hamlet was peaceful, quiet and rural. The harbor and Sound were nearby and provided a place to enjoy diverse forms of marine recreation.

In 1841 the south side of Mount Sinai harbor was developed into a special care facility for sick and disabled children. This consisted of housing and volunteer workers on a 130 acre plot bordered by the harbor from Crystal Brook Hollow Rd to Shore Rd, and as far north as Old Post Rd. This location was chosen due to its close proximity to St Charles hospital and care facility. On April 2nd 1892 this prime parcel of land was sold to Dr Jerome Walker who established the Crystal Brook Park Association which is still owned and occupied today by Mount Sinai's original and oldest private community known as Crystal Brook Park. The residents of Crystal brook Park have preserved all of the original look and feel of their unique 100+ year old community.

Recently, many private communities have been built in Mt. Sinai. These communities include Pulte Villages, Island Estates, The Hamlet at Willow Creek, and The Ranches @ Mt. Sinai. This rapid growth has replaced much of the farmlands at an astounding rate for the past 5-10 years.

Economy

Farming

Farming was the main occupation for residents from the 1660s to the 1960s. The lands bought from native Americans and divided up by colonialists shifted from a hunting, fishing, farming habitat that sustained the native population to a transplanted European population that farmed to sustain themselves and ship farm and forest products to cities to the north and west. Vegetable and dairy farming continued to be important into the 1960s. In 1995 approximately 400 acres (1.6 km2) are still farmed, producing sod, pumpkins, vegetables and fruits. Now, most of the farmland was sold to build housing developments.

Work, trades and commerce

Occupations relating to the harbor and shipping also kept varying numbers of residents busy. Many young men preferred to pursue careers at sea than stay on the farm. Some families of Mt. Sinai had sons engaged in world wide shipping while others were engaged in shipping throughout Long Island Sound and along the east coast.

As shipping trade increased, new ships had to be built The local forests provided the wood to ship builders in Port Jefferson. There was a shipbuilding yard in Old Mans also. However, the unstable mouth and the shallow depth of the harbor limited the size of the ships that could be built at Old Mans. Eventually the yard was moved to the naturally deeper harbor of Port Jefferson. Riggers, sail-makers, ship carpenters and others lived in Mt Sinai and commuted to Port Jefferson. Blacksmiths, shoemakers, schoolteachers, salesmen, carpenters and storekeepers worked in the hamlet of Mt. Sinai. Grist mills were located somewhere along Pipe Stave Hollow and Crystal Brook Hollow Roads. Records indicate that a number of windmills were located on the hills overlooking the harbor. These no doubt ground grain. General stores were a part of the community since the early 19th century. John Hutchinson had a store near the harbor that conducted business until the early 20th century. Vincent R Davis had a store near the school on North Country Road from 1890s to 1917. Floyd Davis took over V.R. Davis' store and eventually moved it to the northeast corner of North Country Road and the New Road (Mt. Sinai Coram Road). This building has housed a variety of businesses through time and a business continues in it to this day.

The post office, established in 1840, was kept in Charles Phillip's house on North Country Road. In 1908, V.R. Davis replaced Eliza C. Randall as postmaster and moved the post office to his store. When Floyd Davis became postmaster, he moved the post office to his store on the corner of North Country Road and Mt. Sinai-Coram Road. The post office and a general store served the community until the late 1960s. At that time, a new post office was built on Route 25A. Thus the union of general store and post office that lasted for about 60 years came to an end.

As the population in the hamlet grew, new businesses were established to serve the community and surrounding communities.. Many of these located on Route 25A. The once simple demands of the colonial community evolved into more complex demands of a modern community. Like many other suburban communities on Long Island, a commercial center did not develop in Mt. Sinai. At one point a school, the post office and a few stores served as the commercial center of Mt. Sinai along North Country Road. No such nuclear development has occurred in the hamlet. Citizens must drive to different parts of the community and other communities to work and to buy the things they need.

Education

Education has been important to the community since the early 1820s and probably earlier. The location of the original school building is Unknown. However, tradition places it on North Country Road east of Mt Sinai Coram Road. The second one-room school was built in 1869 on a half acre (2,000 m2) of land on the southwest corner of North Country and Mt Sinai Coram Road In 1908 a second classroom was added. This building served the community until 1960. At that time the community decided to send their children to be educated in Port Jefferson. In 1960, the school was moved and a firehouse was built on the property where it stands today.

However, a new school building was constructed and Mount Sinai had its students go to Mount Sinai elementary School. Again in 1979 another school was built and now Mount Sinai Students through grade 9 stayed in Mount Sinai for Education. Mount Sinai High School opened to students in September 1991, relieving Port Jefferson's high school of educating Mount Sinai residents. All three schools (the elementary, middle, and high) and the district's sports complexes are located on the same campus on Gertude Goodman Drive.

Religion

Religion has also been an important part of community life. Before 1740 people had to travel to Setauket for services. In the 1740s a Presbyterian Church was built. There is no other information known about this church. In 1789, nine worshipers established the Congregational Church using the old church building as a place to worship. In 1807 a new building was erected and continues to be used as the Mt. Sinai Congregational Church. In the early 19th century, a congregation built a Methodist-Episcopal Church on Shore Road.

The church continued until 1900 when the Mt. Sinai church united with the Methodist Church in Port Jefferson The church building was sold and used as a private home.

Other houses of worship in Mount Sinai include a reform Judaism congregation on Mount Sinai Avenue, and a Jehovah's Witness congregation on North Country Road.

Civic action

The Mt. Sinai Civic Association was founded in 1917. Since that time the Association has been involved in community affairs. The activities of the Association have waxed and waned with the times. The sand dredging, the maintenance of the harbor's mouth and the care of roads were a concern in the early 20th century. After World War II another effort to mine sand and "develop" the harbor occurred. The Association, along with other civic associations and the Mt. Sinai Harbor Association, prevented the early plans for development but could not convince the Town of Brookhaven to stop the dredging of the northern part of the harbor. Through the efforts of many different community groups (Civic and Conservation) the dredging was stopped.

Community groups

There have always been many other community groups active within the hamlet. They are affiliated with the fire department, Local Sports organizations, the school, Scouts churches, and the Mount Sinai Garden Club to name a few.

Mt. Sinai's harbor

Boats at Mount Sinai Harbor

The quiet harbor with a ready access to Long Island Sound provides a pleasant place to vacation. Even in the 19th century people from New York City and Connecticut came to Mt. Sinai to escape the congestion of city neighborhoods. In the early 19th century men came to hunt. The LIRR opened up lines to Yaphank, Port Jefferson and Wading River. Ships also provided transport for people. The post roads, the railroad and the sloops of the Sound provided the access to peaceful places like Mt. Sinai and Miller Place. Vacationers stayed at private homes or small hotels. Some families who visited the area found the area to their liking and bought land or houses here. Some stayed just for the summer, just as families now summer on the east end of Long Island. Activities included baseball, croquet, card games, dancing, theatrical productions, social events, swimming, boating and fishing. All of these activities were primarily enjoyed by the tourists. It was rare for the locals to participate in the activities since they were involved in working on the farms or working to take care of the vacationers.

The harbor was the prime attraction for the lazy days of the summer. Vacationers enjoyed going to Satterly's Landing boathouse. Boats were rented for an easy row about the harbor or for fishing in the Sound. The harbor was also a point to set sail for a few days sail across the Sound. People also enjoyed swimming in the waters of the harbor or Sound.

Mt. Sinai has always served as a resource to the population living around it or visiting it. It provides a variety of shell and finfish. Migrating waterfowl have been hunted during their short stays in the harbor. Early settlers harvested salt hay from the salt marshes and fed it to their livestock. The original mouth of the harbor was on the east side. Winds and tides continually narrowed its opening. Local residents toiled at widening the mouth. In the mid 19th century a new mouth was dredged on the west side of the harbor. Tides continue to dump sand, narrowing the mouth of the harbor. It still must be dredged to keep it open to allow for the boats moored in the harbor to reach the Sound. To this day, people clam in the harbor, collect salt hay to mulch their gardens, fish for flounder and snapper, and to a limited degree hunt ducks during the winter. However, the clams aren't as big and the fish and fowl are scarcer.

The harbor and surrounding lands have also provided another resource. sand. At varying times sand milling was done to satisfy the demands for sand for the rapidly growing urban areas. This use of the harbor became a center of controversy. It united locals with the summer residents, and residents from around the Town to fend off plans that would damage or destroy the harbor. Three major civic battles were waged in the 20th century when various plans to dredge the harbor were proposed and pursued by the Town of Brookhaven. Since the harbor was common land owned by Brookhaven, the elected trustees could allow dredging and sand milling to occur. Two dredging projects were approved and the present channels and deep basin south of Cedar Beach are the result of that action. A united civic action finally got the dredges out of the harbor in the late 1960s.

The northern part of Mt. Sinai Harbor and Cedar Beach is an active recreation area, with a fraction of the original sand dune community preserved in a Marine Sanctuary. Commonly owned lands set aside in 1664 are being used for public recreation or have been rented for private use by a fishing station/boatyard, yacht club and a marina/boatyard. Town and private enterprises provide space and services for boating and fishing. A number of commercial fishermen work out of the harbor and fish in Long Island Sound. Cedar Beach also provides facilities for swimming, teen summer recreation programs, and a nature study center.

View from Mount Sinai's Cedar Beach toward the Village of Belle Terre.

The southern part of it is a passive, peaceful place. This area retains some of the same characteristics of earlier times. The tides control the use by citizens. Low tides allow clammers to clam; high tides attract a few fishermen and a few boaters. Citizens come and sit to enjoy the natural habitat regardless of the tide.

The difference in the two parts of the harbor can also speak for the hamlet in general. Part of the hamlet was laid out and settled in the days of horses and wagons. The hilly terrain, the curving roads, the backdrop of mature forests and the scattering of historic houses are reminders of by-gone days and help retain a sense of history.

Demographics

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were over 9000 residents, 2,671 households, and 2,283 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 1,657.7 per square mile (639.9/km2). There were 2,740 housing units at an average density of 520.1/sq mi (200.7/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 95.19% White, 1.28% African American, 0.08% Native American, 1.49% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.94% from other races, and 0.98% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.17% of the population.

There were 2,671 households out of which 46.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 76.7% were married couples living together, 6.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 14.5% were non-families. 11.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.26 and the average family size was 3.54.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 30.0% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 95.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.0 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $85,605, and the median income for a family was $89,636. Males had a median income of $62,093 versus $36,415 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $31,131. About 1.8% of families and 3.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.9% of those under age 18 and 2.1% of those age 65 or over.


References

  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  2. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links


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