Planet Suffolk: Bringing together the Suffolks of the world

Suffolk County, New York, USA

Suffolk County is situated on the eastern portion of Long Island, New York State. Suffolk County’s only land boundary is with Nassau County to the west. It also has water boundaries with Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex & New London Counties in Connecticut & Washington County, Rhode Island. The county seat is Riverhead. In area, Suffolk County covers 2373 square miles, of which 912 square miles is land.

Population:-  The population at the 2010 census was 1,493,350.

 

How to get there:-

By Road: The main routes eastbound from Nassau County are Interstate Highway 495 & State Highway 27.

By Rail: Suffolk is served by the MTA Long Island Rail Road. Trains run from Penn Station, Manhattan; Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn; Long Island City & Jamaica, Queens.  Three lines serve Suffolk; the Port Jefferson Branch, which terminates at Port Jefferson, the Ronkonkoma Branch, which terminates at Greenport, & the Montauk Branch, which terminates at Montauk.

The nearest major airports are LaGuardia International, New York & John F Kennedy International, New York.

Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5 hrs).  Daylight saving time in summer + 1 hr.

 

Order of contents on this page: (Click on the links below)

History:

Early History & Derivation of Name 

Suffolk County Militia

Geography:

Towns of Suffolk County:

      Babylon 

      Brookhaven

      East Hampton 

      Huntington

      Islip

      Riverhead

      Shelter Island

      Smithtown

      Southampton

      Southold

Fire Island

Suffolk Pines

Suffolk Meadows

Parks/Reserves etc:

State Parks of Suffolk County

Suffolk County Parks

National Wildlfe Refuges of Suffolk County

Buildings:

The Big Duck

Sagtikos Manor

Museums & Historic Buildings of Suffolk County

Strange But True:

The Amityville Horror

"The Montauk Monster"

Suffolk County Potter’s Field 

Transport:

Suffolk Traction Company 

People:

Walt Whitman

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Rod Steiger

Jodi Picoult

Mariah Carey

 

Early History & Derivation of Name

Although the Dutch had begun to settle the western end of Long Island in the early seventeenth century, the island was close enough to Connecticut for the English to claim the land. In 1636 King Charles I ordered that the Corporation for New England issue a patent to the Earl of Stirling for Long Island. The following year, the Earl gave power of attorney to one James Farrett (or Farret) to sell deeds for land. Around the year 1640, a group of puritan families arrived in Long Island from Lynn in Massachusetts with the intention of establishing new settlements. The town of Southampton was established in June 1640 & in August of that same year a deed was obtained from Farrett for the settlement that would become Southold. These towns were basically self governing, with annual town meetings being held to establish rules. Soon other settlers started arriving & more towns & settlements began to flourish.

When the British took New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, the new settlements became part of the Province of New York, under the rule of the Duke of York. The area that was to become Suffolk was at this time known as the East Riding of Yorkshire & the Duke abolished the town meetings in favour of direct governance. Although the Dutch retook New York & Long Island in 1673, a year later it was back in British hands & would remain so until the War of Independence.

It is not entirely clear who first thought of naming Suffolk, or why that name was chosen.  However, it does seem that the new governor, Thomas Dongan, sent by the Duke of York in response to a petition received in 1681 from the settlers concerning the despotic rule of the previous governor, arrived in August 1683 with express instructions to convene a General Assembly immediately and present the representatives with a proposed arrangement for the governance of the province.  This implies that the county system and names had already been decided in England and some sources suggest that the Duke of York himself chose the names.  The new arrangement was accepted by the settlers on 2nd November 1683 when an Act was passed replacing the three Ridings of Long Island by King's County, Queen's County and Suffolk County.  The renaming of the first two was obviously out of deference to the King and Queen.  However, there is no obvious connection with the English county of Suffolk.  It has been suggested that the name was chosen because the easternmost part of the island had become the East Riding, and its location and general flat landscape and agricultural nature was therefore reminiscent of the easternmost county of England.

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Suffolk County Militia

Suffolk County Militia Regiment: As with all early colonial settlements in North America, it was expected that each town would organise its own defence.  This was based on voluntary militia as in England.  Each freeman from 16 to 60 was responsible for his own gun and ammunition for militia service, and for taking his turn in standing watch over the community.  Thus town militias were organised from the earliest days in the 1640s and 1650s at the English settlements in the eastern half of Long Island.  Their main purpose was as a defence against the hostile Dutch of the New Netherlands rather than the Native Americans, since the latter threat was soon extinguished, as much by the diseases brought by the Europeans as from warfare.

The Suffolk County Militia was organised in 1683 when the county came into being.  It owes its development to John Youngs of Southold.  From 1654 to 1656 John Youngs commanded a patrol boat on Long Island, ostensibly to prevent Native attacks, but he was primarily involved in privateer activities against the Dutch.  In 1663 he was in command of the Southold militia that assisted in the capture of New Amsterdam.  He was held in high regard by the British authorities and was the obvious choice to be the first colonel of the Suffolk County Militia.  

Every county in the Province of New York had to provide a quota of men to serve in the Provincial Army.  The New York Provincial Army would then be taken into the British Army establishment, and the troops could be sent anywhere where they were needed.  The men of Suffolk County always responded willingly to the call, and the record shows that there was never any need to draft men from Suffolk County - they were all volunteers.  The Suffolk County Militia saw action in the French and Indian War from 1756 to 1760, and remained to do garrison duty at the captured French forts along the St Lawrence River from 1760 to 1763.

With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the New York State Provisional Congress ordered the raising of troops.  At that time Nathaniel Woodhull from Brookhaven in Suffolk County was a brigadier-general in the New York Provincial Army, and he also served in the New York assembly as the representative from Suffolk County.  In October 1775 Nathaniel Woodhull was given control of the militias in Suffolk and Queens Counties.  With regard to Suffolk, two regiments of militia were organised, one in the Eastern part of Suffolk County, the other in the Western part.  It was intended that they should join the Continental Army.  On 10th February 1776 the 2nd (or Eastern) Regiment was established under Col. David Mulford of East Hampton with nine Companies from East Hampton and Bridge Hampton, while Southampton provided a Company of Minute Men.  On 5th April 1776 the 1st (or Western) Regiment was established under Lieut.-Col. Gilbert Potter of Huntington with 13 Companies from Huntington, Brookhaven, Smithtown, Islip and Southold.  Commissions for a 3rd Regiment were issued but a muster was never called.  A Regiment of Minute Men was organised under Col. Josiah Smith of Brookhaven.  These troops expected that their primary duty would be to protect eastern Long Island from British raiders.  

The focus of British effort shifted from Boston to New York City in July 1776. Both sides began moving troops toward the city.  Mulford’s 2nd Suffolk Regiment and Col Josiah Smith’s Minute Men were ordered west.  The Battle of Long Island began in Brooklyn on the morning of 22nd August 1776, and the Suffolk regiments participated in the battle with some 250 men from Suffolk County.  General George Washington was defeated on 27 August, and all of Long Island was abandoned to the British.  The Suffolk Regiment and Minute Men disbanded, and most men returned to their homes to protect their families.  Some of the officers and men left the island and joined the Continental Army.  The British marched east to complete their occupation of Long Island.  Residents were required to swear allegiance to the Crown.  Many fled to Connecticut to escape British rule, and did not return until the British left Long Island in 1783.

The commanding officers of the militia had different outcomes.  During the Battle of Long Island, General Woodhull and his militia were cut off at Jamaica in Queens County; he was mortally wounded when taken captive by the British, and he died in September 1776.  Lieut.-Col. Gilbert Potter retired from active service and lived with his family behind the American lines.  They only returned to their home on Long Island in 1783.  Col. Josiah Smith escaped to Connecticut in 1776, but had returned to Long Island before July 1779 when he was detained for three months by the British before being allowed to return home.  He died in 1786.  Col. David Mulford retired to his home in East Hampton after the Battle of Long Island, and is said to have been forced to take the oath of allegiance to the Crown; he remained in retirement until his death in 1799.              


Loyal Suffolk County Militia: During the war, New York City and Long Island served as Britain’s base of military operations.  Many of those who favoured independence- Whigs or Patriots- fled while those who wanted the continuance of British rule, Tories, stayed after pledging an oath of allegiance.  It is estimated that about one third of inhabitants of Long Island were Loyalists.  The active ones in Suffolk County were organised into a volunteer militia unit known as the Loyal Suffolk County Militia.  This was commanded by Col. Richard Floyd, owner of a 3,000 acre estate in Brookhaven (now Mastic), Long Island.  The Floyd family had inhabited Long Island since 1654, and one of Richard Floyd’s cousins, William Floyd, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  The Loyalist Militia took no active part in fighting, but assumed guard and look-out duties around the island.

When peace negotiations got under way in 1782, the Patriots began returning and those inhabitants who had remained neutral understandably saw their interests best served by supporting them.  The Loyalists soon lost their property to “patriotic Americans”, and were being persecuted and banished from returning to their towns.  Patriot assemblies ordered those who had declared their allegiance to the Crown to leave their lands and homes.  Feeling threatened the Loyalists started to gather in New York City from August 1782 as this was still in British hands.  Finally, in November 1783 the British Government organised five great fleets to take Loyalist families north to Canada.  They were re-settled mainly in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  Richard Floyd made his way to New Brunswick where he lived out his days in exile, while his estate was forfeited without compensation after Independence.

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Babylon

Situated on the South Shore of Long Island, the town of Babylon is in western Suffolk, bordering Nassau County.  Originally part of the town of Huntington, the region was initially known as Huntington South. This changed around 1803 when Nathaniel Conklin & family moved to the area. It is said that Mr Conklin’s mother came up with the name Babylon, as she was unhappy with the move here & compared the area to the biblical place of captivity for the exiled Jews. Nathaniel Conklin, however, had no qualms about the region & so called his new home New Babylon. The town, however, wasn’t officially formed until 1872, when Babylon split from Huntington.

In the year 2010, the population of Babylon was 213,603. In area, Babylon comprises 52.3 square miles of land & 61.9 square miles of sea.  Several islands situated in the Great South Bay are within the town's boundaries. These include: Captree Island, Cedar Island, Gilgo Island, Grass Island, Thatch Island & Oak Island, as well as the western end of Fire Island (see Fire Island feature, below). The town includes the villages of Amityville, Babylon & Lindenhurst, as well as several hamlets.

The village of Amityville has been home to several famous people, including Suffolk, England born composer Benjamin Britten (see also Suffolk, England page), who lived here from 1939-42 . Gangster Al Capone & his wife Mae also had a house here.

(See also The Amityville Horror section, below)

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Brookhaven

The town of Brookhaven is situated in central Suffolk County & stretches from the North Shore to the South Shore of Long Island. The population in 2010 was 486,040. The town covers a total area of 531.5 square miles, of which just under half is land. It is the largest town by area in Suffolk County.

The first English settlers arrived in 1655 & named their first settlement Setauket, after the Native American tribe that inhabited the area. After 1666, when Long Island became part of the Colony of New York, a patent was granted by Governor Richard Nicholl, at which time the town was named as Brookhaven.

Brookhaven includes the villages of Belle Terre, Bellport, Lake Grove, Mastic Beach, Old Field, Patchogue, Poquott, Port Jefferson & Shoreham, plus 50 hamlets. The eastern end of Fire Island is also within the town (see Fire Island section, below).

In the hamlet of Mastic is the William Floyd House. Also known as Nicholl Floyd House and Old Mastic House, it was the home of William Floyd, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, between 1734 & 1803. The house is now owned by the National Park Service as part of Fire Island National Seashore.

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East Hampton

The most easterly town in Suffolk County & New York State, East Hampton covers an area of 386 square miles, although only 74 square miles are land. The population in 2010 was 21,457.

East Hampton became the site of the first English settlement in New York State, when Lion Gardiner purchased the land that became known as Gardiner’s Island in 1639. The island was recognised as an independent colony until after the American Revolution. It was formally joined to the town in 1788. Today Gardiner’s Island is the largest privately owned island in the United States.

From the 1640s onwards, Puritan settlers started arriving in Long Island.  In 1648 the first land grants were made in the East Hampton area, and John Hand, one of the original grantees from Southampton on Long Island, appears to have given the settlement the name of Maidstone after the town in Kent, England, from where the original trading ship sailed that brought him to America in 1635.  However, this name was never officially adopted, and by 1661 the name Easthampton was in use.  In 1686 this name was formally accepted when Thomas Dongan, Governor of New York State at that time, granted a patent to Trustees of the freeholders and commonalty of the town of East-Hampton.

Initially one word, like its near neighbours Southampton & Westhampton, the name Easthampton was split to become East Hampton in 1885.

The town includes the villages of East Hampton & Sag Harbor (the latter partially in the town of Southampton), as well as the hamlets of Amagansett, Montauk, Napeague, Springs & Wainscott.

In the Montauk area of East Hampton is Deep Hollow Ranch. Established in 1658, it is the oldest continuously operating cattle ranch in the United States. The first three houses to be built in Montauk were named, unsurprisingly, First house, Second House & Third House. They were initially used by cattle & sheep herders whilst pasturing their herds in the region. The First House, originally built in 1744 at the foot of Hither Hill, burned down in 1909. The Second House was originally built in 1746, with the structure seen today being erected in 1797. In 1968 it was acquired by the Town of East Hampton and the New York State Historical Trust, & is today a museum run by the Montauk Historical Society. The Third House, built in 1806, now operates as the headquarters of the Deep Hollow Ranch. In 1898, future US President Theodore Teddy Roosevelt (1858 -1919) & other officers returning from the Spanish-American War used Third House as the headquarters of Camp Wikoff; a quarantine & recuperation facility for more than 29,000 troops who camped on the surrounding land.

The famous abstract expressionist artists, husband & wife Jackson Pollock & Lee Krasner, lived in the small hamlet of Springs from 1945, in a house that has become known as the Pollock-Krasner House (see photo, right). They converted the nearby barn into a studio. Pollock was killed in a car crash on the Springs-Fireplace Road in August 1956. The house & studio has now been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Artist & filmmaker Andy Warhol also had a residence in East Hampton; a waterfront estate in Montauk.

Julia Gardiner (1820 – 89), second wife of the tenth President of the United States John Tyler, was born on Gardiner’s Island.

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Huntington

With a population of 203,264 at the 2010 census, the town of Huntington is situated on the north shore of Long Island in the northwest of Suffolk County. The town covers 94 square miles of land & 43.1 square miles of Long Island Sound. To the west, Huntington borders Nassau County.

The land that would become Huntington was initially bought from the Native American Matinecock tribe  in April 1653. This land was known as First Purchase & was gradually expanded upon with further land purchases, until the town stretched from the north to the south shore of Long Island; many of the original settlers being English Puritans who arrived via Massachusetts & Connecticut.  The southern part of the town, however, split to become Babylon in 1872.

The indigenous people called this area Ketawomoke meaning “where the sea flows”.  When the first settlers arrived in 1653 they chose the name “Huntingdon” in honour of the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, then ruler of England, Scotland and Ireland, who was born in Huntingdon, England.  After the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 this was an obvious embarrassment, and it was considered expedient to explain the name as a corruption of “Huntingtown”, because of the abundance of wild game in the vicinity at that time.  The town was incorporated under a patent issued on 30 November 1666 by Governor Nicolls, under the name of Huntingdon. Town records show that they did originally spell the name of the town with a “d” and later substituted a “t”.  This may have been also an attempt to distance itself further from the Cromwell connection.

Huntington includes the villages of Asharoken, Huntington Bay, Lloyd Harbor & Northport, as well as several hamlets.

Writer & poet Jack Kerouac (1922 - 69) lived for a while in the village of Northport during the late 1950s. Kerouac is considered a pioneer of the Beat Generation. His major works include On the Road, The Dharma Bums & The Subterraneans.

Famous jazz saxophonist John Coltrane (1926 - 67) moved with his family to a house in the hamlet of Dix Hills in 1964, residing there until his death in 1967.  He used the basement of the house as a studio & the room above the garage became his practice room. It was whilst living here that he composed A Love Supreme (1965), widely regarded as his finest album. As well as his work as a band leader, Coltrane was renowned as a session musician; appearing alongside jazz greats such as Miles Davis & Thelonious Monk. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

 

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Islip

The town of Islip is situated on the southern shore of Long Island. The population at the 2010 census was 335,543. Islip covers 105.3 square miles of land & 57.8 square miles of water.

The name Islip derives from the early settler Matthias Nicoll, who arrived on Long Island in 1664 from Islip in Northamptonshire, England. In 1683, Matthias’ son, William Nicoll, bought 50,000 acres of land from the Native American Sachem Winnequaheagh of Connetquot, which he named Islip Grange. In 1710, the precinct of Islip was established, although the first reference to Islip as a town doesn’t occur until 1790.

Islip includes the villages of Brightwaters, Islandia, Ocean Beach & Saltaire, together with more than 20 hamlets. Part of Fire Island is also within the town (see Fire Island section, below).

Between the years 1912 & 1917 the hamlet of Bay Shore was used as the venue for the making of the original 20 episodes of the “Keystone Kops” silent films. Produced by Mack Sennett for his Keystone Film Company, the Keystone Kops were an incompetent group of policemen, inspired, it is alleged, by observing the police in Suffolk County (in the days prior to the formation of the Suffolk County Police Department). The cast included Edgar Kennedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Ford Sterling & James Finlayson. The Keystone Kops later featured in films by such famous stars of the silent era as Fatty Arbuckle & Charlie Chaplin; the latter owning a house in the nearby village of Brightwaters during the 1920s. The Keystone Building in Bay Shore still stands to this day.

Covering 243 acres, & with a circumference of about two miles, Lake Ronkonkoma is Long Island’s largest freshwater lake. It is popularly known as the “Bottomless Lake”, due to several deep depressions with depths of up to 65 feet. The lake is the site of the legend of “The Lady of the Lake”; said to be a Native American princess who either drowned or committed suicide here. Ronkonkoma is an Algonquian word meaning boundary fishing lake.

Meadow Croft Estate, situated in the hamlet of Sayville, was built in the nineteenth century. The house is notable for once being the residence of John E. Roosevelt, cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt. It is now maintained by Suffolk County Historic Trust, & is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Central Islip is a census-designated area within the town of Islip, formerly known as Suffolk Station (see The Ones That Got Away page). 

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Riverhead

With a population of 33,506 at the 2010 census, Riverhead, on the north shore of Long Island, is the county seat of Suffolk. The town covers 201.3 square miles, although only 67.4 square miles are land; the rest comprising the waters of Long Island Sound.

Riverhead is so named due to its location at the mouth of the Peconic River where it empties into Flanders Bay; which is itself an arm of Great Peconic Bay.

The land that was to become Riverhead was first settled by European colonists in 1649.  At the time the land was part of Southold known as the “Aquebogue Division”; an area that comprised all the land between Mattituck and Wading River.  Prior to 1727, the honour of becoming the county seat of Suffolk was disputed between Southampton and Southold, and to placate both towns the meetings and administration were held alternately between the two.  In 1727 it was decided to build a court house on the boundary between the two towns, and this became the county seat known as “Suffolk County Court House”.  In 1792 it was decided to expand this into a separate township that was created mainly from the land of Southold.  On 13th March 1792 the Legislature passed a bill splitting off this section and renamed it “River’s Head”.  At the time of separation, the two largest settlements were at Wading River and Lower or Old Aquebogue, the latter of which is today’s Jamesport.  This was a territory with no harbours and very little commerce; the “town” was described as ‘a miserable hamlet with four houses, a gristmill and a decaying courthouse’.  At first, the town was called River Head; the two words were later combined as Riverhead, which became official in 1902.

Riverhead includes several hamlets, including Aquebogue, Baiting Hollow, Jamesport, Northville & Riverhead, as well as three partially in the neighbouring town of Brookhaven; Calverton, Manorville & Wading River, plus Laurel which is partly in the town of Southold.

The hamlet of Calverton was once the site of the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant; the land having been purchased by the Navy in 1953. It was used by the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation to test, finish & refit jets, before being closed in 1995. The site also includes the Calverton National Cemetery, which is the largest national (military) cemetery in the United States.

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Shelter Island

The town of Shelter Island is situated at the eastern end on Long Island, between the North Fork & South Fork. It is surrounded on three sides by Shelter Island Sound, whilst to the east is Gardiners Bay. The town covers 27.1 square miles, although only 12.1 square miles are land. The population at the 2010 census was 2,392. The island can be reached by ferry from Greenport & North Haven.

In 1651, Stephen Goodyear, one of the founders of the New Haven Colony, sold Shelter Island to  a group of Barbados sugar merchants for 1,600 pounds of sugar; Goodyear himself having procured the island from the Earl of Stirling’s agent, James Farrett. One of the merchants, named Nathaniel Sylvester, became the first European settler in the following year. The house he built in that year, although later rebuilt by his descendents, still stands today as Sylvester Manor. By the time of his death, Sylvester owned the entire island & his estate was divided between his two sons, who gradually sold off parcels of the land to incoming settlers. It was around this new community that the settlement gradually grew, until in 1730 the town of Shelter Island was established.

The village of Dering Harbor is the only incorporated community on Shelter Island. Hamlets include Montclair Colony, Shelter Island, Shelter Island Heights, Silver Beach & Westmoreland.

Famous residents of Shelter Island have included novelist Faith Baldwin, sculptor John Chamberlain & actress Julie Kavner; the voice of Marge Simpson.

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Smithtown

With an area of 111.4 square miles, of which 53.6 square miles are land, Smithtown is located on the North Shore of Long Island. The population in the year 2010 was 117,801.

Originally known as Smithfield, the town of Smithtown is named after Richard Smith. Legend has it that, after rescuing a Native American Chiefs kidnapped daughter, the grateful Chief rewarded Smith by granting title to all of the land Smith could encircle in one day whilst riding on a bull. Smith chose the summer solstice for his ride on a bull called Whisper, & the land he encompassed on that longest of days is said to roughly correspond with the current town’s boundaries.

Since 1941 a statue of Whisper has stood at the fork of Jericho Turnpike and St. Johnland Road (see photo, above right). The idea for the statue was initially put forward in 1903 by one of Smith’s descendents, Lawrence Smith Butler, but, due to lack of funds, the statue wasn’t cast until 1923 & then it stood in front of the Brooklyn Museum for several years before funding could be found to bring it to Smithtown.

Romantic as this legend is, the reality is clearly preserved in deeds still in existence that conveyed the property between the original native people and subsequent landowners. The local Indians sold the land to English speculators in 1650 for the usual trinkets, kettles and coats, but it was not settled until July 1659 when Lion Gardiner bought the property from the speculators and made an arrangement with the indigenous people. It was then known as Nesquauke Land. In 1663 Gardiner transferred this land to his friend Richard Smith, who obtained a patent from Governor Nicholl on 3rd March 1665 to form a township which he called Smithfield. In March 1677 another patent was granted in which it was renamed Smithtown.  

Smithtown includes the incorporated villages of Head of the Harbor, Nissequogue & Village of the Branch, plus several hamlets.

In the hamlet of St James is the St James General Store, thought to be the oldest, continuously operating general store in the United States.

Also in St James is Deepwells Farm, the mansion house of which was built in the Greek Revival style around 1845 for Joel L.G. Smith; a descendant of Richard Smith. During the early twentieth century it was home to William J. Gaynor, who was mayor of New York from 1910 - 13.  In 1989, Suffolk County acquired the property, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, & is managed by the Deepwells Farm Historical Society. The site is named for its two wells, both approximately 125 ft deep.

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Southampton

The town of Southampton is located in the south east of Suffolk County, on the southern shore of Long Island. It covers 295.6 square miles, of which less than 140 square miles are land. As at the 2010 census, the population was 56,790.

Southampton is generally accepted to be the oldest English settlement in the state of New York, having been founded in 1640 when settlers from Lynn, Massachusetts, landed at Conscience Point, where they obtained lands from the native Shinnecock people. The traditional date of this landing is given as 12th June 1640.  However, it has to be said that definite documentary proof is lacking, and books have been written over whether Southampton or Southold was the first English settlement.  It is known that some of the first settlers of Southampton landed on Long Island in May 1640, and were arrested by the Dutch authorities since the records of their trial exist.  There is also a document dated 7th July 1640 that sets out the boundaries of the settlement; this implies that it was in place by then.  Of course this document could have been written outlining the boundaries that were proposed before the settlers actually got there; at least that is what the people of Southold like to think (see section below).  However, John Winthrop’s journal is contemporary with the event and he indicates that the land was purchased from the Indians in June 1640, and settlement then commenced.    

The first written record of the settlement being called Southampton is in August 1641, but nobody really knows why it was given this name.  The tradition that the first settlers sailed from Southampton, England, when they came to America is without foundation, since none of them did; neither were any of the settlers born near that town - they came from Bedford, Buckingham and Lincoln.  The theory that it was named after Henry Wriothesly, Earl of Southampton, who was a director of the Virginia Company from 1620 to 1624, is discredited because he was not particularly sympathetic to the Puritans and they would, therefore, not have named a place after him.  It seems most likely that “Hampton” was a common settlement name, and since it was on the south of Long Island, it was given this name accordingly.  

The town of Southampton includes the villages of North Haven, Quogue, Sag Harbor, Sagaponack, Southampton, Westhampton Beach & West Hampton Dunes. There are also several hamlets including Bridgehampton, Hampton Bays, Northampton, Remsenburg & Riverside.

The village of Sag Harbor, which straddles the border between the towns of Southampton & East Hampton, includes an area listed on the National Register of Historic Places called the Sag Harbor Village District. This comprises the entire business district of 870 buildings in this former whaling port, & includes the First Presbyterian Church, also known as Old Whaler's Church, which was built in 1844 in the Egyptian Revival style & is now a National Historic Landmark.

The village of West Hampton Dunes is situated on a barrier island that was part of Fire Island until the creation of the Moriches Inlet after a great storm in 1931. With a population of only 55 at the 2010 census, it is the least populated municipality in the state of New York.

English writer P. G. Wodehouse (1881 - 1975), who became a US citizen in 1955, was resident for the rest of his life in the hamlet of Remsenburg. Wodehouse’s work includes novels, short stories, plays, poems & song lyrics. His best known creations are the foppish English gentleman Bertie Wooster & his servant Jeeves. 

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Southold

Southold is situated on the North Fork, at the extreme north eastern tip of Long Island. The population at the 2010 census was 21,968 & the town covers an area of 404.5 square miles, almost all of which is water; only 53.7 square miles being land. Southold includes within its town limits Robins Island, Plum Island, and Fishers Island.

Southold was first settled by English Puritan colonists from New Haven, Connecticut, who arrived in October 1640. The name Southold is believed to be a misspelling of the town of Southwold in Suffolk, England, as this is the birthplace of the Reverend John Youngs, leader of the original settlers. Also within the town of Southold is an area known as Reydon Shores, which is thought to derive from the village of Reydon, close to Southwold, England, where Youngs’ wife came from & also where Youngs is known to have attended church. 

As noted above in the Southampton section, Southold disputes the claim as to the oldest English settlement on Long Island and, hence, in New York State.  This rather depends upon how you define “settlement”.  It does appear that there are various documents indicating that land in the Southold area was acquired by English speculators for later settlement, but that does not mean that someone actually lived there.  It is possible that a small number of men had arrived earlier in 1640 to prepare shelter and plant crops, and there is tentative evidence that Richard Jackson had built a shelter or house just east of Southold early in 1640.  However, if “settlement” is regarded as the residence of one individual or family, then East Hampton has the better claim since Lion Gardiner was on his island in 1639. The best that can be said is that the Rev. John Youngs arrived with his party on 21st October 1640, whereas the evidence favours a settlement being in place by that date at Southampton.  The name “Southampton” is written down in 1641, but the Rev. John Youngs did not get round to naming his settlement Southold until 1644, preferring to retain the native name of Yennicot until then.   

Southold was part of the New Haven Colony until 1662 when that colony merged with the Connecticut Colony, which Southold accepted with much reluctance, only to become part of the Province of New York in 1664.

Southold’s only incorporated village is Greenport. Other unincorporated communities include Cutchogue, East Marion, Laurel, Mattituck, Orient, Peconic, Southold & New Suffolk (see New Suffolk, New York page for details of the latter).

During the summers of 1938 & 1939, the world famous theoretical physicist Albert Einstein rented a cottage in Cutchogue & spent many hours sailing in Little Peconic Bay, which he called the most beautiful sailing ground I ever experienced”.

The village of Greenport & the hamlets of Orient & Southold all have Historic Districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fisher Island, Great Gull Island, Little Gull Island, Plum Island & Robins Island are also within the town boundaries. Plum Island is a restricted area due to its use as a research site by the Department of Agriculture. Robins Island is privately owned. Fisher Island, although in New York State, is actually closer to Connecticut than Long Island. The nine miles long & one mile wide island has several beaches & is a popular destination for yachting enthusiasts. 

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Fire Island

Situated along the south shore of Long Island, Fire Island is a barrier island approximately 31 miles long, but on average no more than one mile wide at any point, which lies within the Suffolk towns of Brookhaven, Islip & Babylon. In 2012 Hurricane Sandy once again divided Fire Island into two islands at Old Inlet, just west of Smith Point Bridge.  This is now 856 feet wide through which sea-water pours into the Great South Bay; the authorities are still considering whether to close the breach to prevent future extensive flooding. 

 

Fire Island has a land area of around 9.6 square miles &, at the 2010 census, had a permanent population of just under 292. In summer, however, Fire Island’s population explodes; with hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting every year.

On average around five miles from, & roughly parallel with, the Long Island shore, Fire Island is separated from the mainland by a series of interconnected bays such as Great South Bay, Patchogue Bay, Bellport Bay, Narrow Bay, and Moriches Bay. Accessible by road from Robert Moses Causeway at the western end & William Floyd Parkway (Suffolk County Road 46) in the east, motor vehicles are not permitted on the rest of the island. Fire Island is otherwise only accessible by boat or seaplane, with ferry services running from Patchogue in Brookhaven, & Sayville & Bay Shore in the town of Islip.

In 1653, Isaac Stratford set up the first whaling station on Fire Island, naming it Whalehouse Point. Thereafter, Fire Island became a major whaling centre up until the nineteenth century. During the late seventeenth century the entire island was owned by Englishman William "Tangier" Smith, who also owned large areas of land in other parts of Suffolk County. The name Fire Island first appeared on a deed of 1789, although the origin of the name is open to dispute. One theory suggests that the name derives from the Dutch word “vijf”, meaning five & pertaining to the number of islands close to the Fire Island inlet. Another suggestion is that the name stems from the practice used by pirates & Native Americans of lighting fires on the shore to lure passing ships onto the sandbars.
Until 1683, Fire Island was attached to Jones Beach Island to the west (also known as Oak Beach Island), which straddles the county line between Nassau and Suffolk. In that year, however, the waters broke through to create two separate islands. To the east, Fire Island became separated from West Hampton Dunes in 1931.

Located in the Fire Island National Seashore, on the west of the island, Fire Island Lighthouse was originally built in 1826 as a 74 ft tower; the current 180 ft structure being erected in 1858. Although originally built on the westernmost tip of the island, the accumulation of drifting sand has resulted in Fire Island extending nearly six miles to the west of the lighthouse. Having been decommissioned by the US Coast Guard in 1974, the light was returned to active service in 1986 & is now operated and maintained by the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society; an organisation set up in 1982. The society now operates tours of the tower throughout the year. Fire Island Lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

The four & a half miles at the western end of Fire Island is occupied by the Robert Moses State Park, with the remainder of the island being under the protection of the Fire Island National Seashore. In the east of the island is the Smith Point County Park.

With over 100 miles of shoreline, much of it pristine beaches, Fire Island is a haven for holiday makers & is a popular destination for swimming, sailing, surfing, fishing, hiking, biking, camping & bird watching. Fire Island is also home to many white tailed deer, which have become known as the island’s mascot. Several small communities & hamlets exist along the length of Fire Island, such as Ocean Beach, Saltaire, Davis Park, Cherry Grove, Fire Island Pines & Kismet. Other islands just offshore from Fire Island include Ridge Island, East Fire Island, West Fire Island, Pelican Island, Sexton Island & John Boyle Island.

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Suffolk Pines

Suffolk Pines is a permanent mobile home park situated in the village of Westhampton Beach in the town of Southampton in Suffolk County. It is a heavily wooded area that comprises only four roads called North Lane, East Lane, West Lane and South Lane between two main roads (South Country Road and Montauk Highway). Suffolk Pines is considered as a separate Populated Place by the US Board of Geographic Names and also by Suffolk County.

Suffolk Pines was established as a mobile homes park in the early 1960s, after court action begun in 1958 by the Town of Islip prevented the development of a trailer park there.

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Suffolk Meadows

Located in Yaphank in the town of Brookhaven, Suffolk Meadows operated briefly during the years 1977 & 1986 as a quarter horse racetrack.

Originally known as Parr Meadows, after the Parr Organisation who owned the track during the early period of its existence, Suffolk Meadows was a 65 acre site located just off the Long Island Expressway. Opening in 1977, after only 113 days the track was forced to close due to lack of funds. In May 1986, however, horse racing did briefly return to Suffolk Meadows, finally ceasing in October of that year.

In September 1979, Suffolk Meadows was the site of a ten hour concert featuring many performers from the original Woodstock Festival ten years before, such as Canned Heat, John Sebastian, Stephen Stills & Rick Danko. The site has also held the Suffolk County Fair & professional rodeo competitions.

Although various projects were earmarked for the redevelopment of Suffolk Meadows, the site remained derelict until 2015.  Permission was finally given for the construction of a $400 million residential and retail complex that will eventually encompass a 322 acre pedestrian-friendly, neighbourhood style development that will include retail shops, offices and open spaces, as well as 850 housing units.  The first of five phases of construction began in June 2015. 

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State Parks of Suffolk County

Amsterdam Beach State Park: This park, in the town of East Hampton, was acquired in 2005 & consists of 122 acres of undeveloped tidal & freshwater wetlands previously known as Montauk Moorlands, together with 1,288 feet of ocean frontage.

Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park:  Located in the hamlet of Great River in the town of Islip, the 690 acre Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park consists of the house ‘Westbrook’ & its surrounding landscaped gardens. The Tudor style house (see photo, right) was designed by architect Charles C. Haight in 1886 for William Bayard Cutting (1850–1912), who was an attorney, financier, real estate developer, sugar beet refiner and philanthropist. The grounds were laid out in the style of an arboretum in 1887 by Frederick Law Olmsted, who was instrumental in designing Central Park in New York City.  The house & grounds were given to the people of New York by Cutting’s widow & daughter. The estate was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Belmont Lake State Park:  This 459 acre park is situated in the town of Babylon.  Named after its former owner, August Belmont, who bred thoroughbred race horses here, Belmont Lake State Park has facilities for walking, horse riding, biking, cross country skiing, boating & a wide range of other sporting activities, as well as picnic areas & children’s playgrounds.

Brookhaven State Park: Brookhaven State Park is a 1,638 site established in 1971, that was once the property of Brookhaven National Laboratory. The park consists of oak-pine woodlands interspersed with scattered wetlands.

Caleb Smith State Park Preserve: On the north shore of Long Island in the town of Smithtown, this 543 acre site includes Caleb Smith House, & offers a nature museum as well as a variety of habitats including, ponds, streams, fields, upland woods & wetlands along the Nissequogue River. Originally part of the estate of Caleb Smith (1724-1800), much of the house, which was built in 1751, has since undergone renovation, although parts of the original structure are still incorporated in the building seen today. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. His son, with the same name, built a house that has also been preserved & this stands on North Street in Smithtown (see Caleb Smith II House under Museums & Historic Buildings of Suffolk County section, below).

Camp Hero State Park:  Located in East Hampton on the site of the former Montauk Air Force Station, this 415 acre park was named after Major General Andrew Hero Jr., who was the Army's Chief of Coast Artillery during the 1920s. Camp Hero offers an extensive system of walking, biking & horse riding trails through a series of diverse landscapes which include freshwater wetlands, maritime forests & spectacular beaches with dramatic bluffs. It is a popular resort for surf fishing.

Captree State Park: Located on the easternmost end of Jones Beach Island in the town of Babylon, Captree State Park covers 298 acres overlooking Fire Island Inlet & is a haven for fishing, boating, scuba diving & bird watching, as well as picnicking.

Caumsett State Historic Park: Located on the Lloyd Neck peninsula in the town of Huntington, Caumsett State Historic Park was acquired by the state in 1961. The land had been purchased by Marshall Field III in 1921, & was named after a Matinecock Native American word meaning place by a sharp rock. Field established an estate on the 1750 acre site that was a combination of country club & hunting preserve, as well as building his home here. The park includes many miles of walking, biking, cross country skiing & bridle paths, set in a diverse landscape of woodland, meadows, rock shoreline and salt marsh. Popular activities include fishing, bird watching & nature photography. Parts of the Marshall Field III Main House are open to the public, & the park also includes landscaped gardens & an equestrian centre. Also within the park is the early eighteenth century Henry Lloyd Manor House, which is leased to the Lloyd Harbor Historical Society.

Cold Spring Harbour State Park:  A popular location for bird watching, hiking & cross country skiing, Cold Spring Harbour State Park is situated in the town of Huntington in the northwest of Suffolk County.  The 40 acre park offers scenic views of the Cold Spring Harbor from its forested hills (see photo, left).

 

 

 

Connetquot River State Park Preserve: Created in 1978, Connetquot River State Park Preserve in the town of Islip is a 3,473 acre conservation site that is home to several species of rare nesting birds & numerous rare plants. It offers the visitor 50 miles of hiking, horse riding, cross country skiing & nature trails, as well as excellent fishing & a museum.

Gilgo State Park: Located on Jones Beach Island in the town of Babylon, Gilgo State Park is an undeveloped area that fronts both the Atlantic Ocean & Great South Bay. The park is popular with anglers. The habitat is actively managed for the protection of the piping plover and rare sea beach amaranth.

Governor Alfred E. Smith/Sunken Meadow State Park: Located on the north shore of Long Island in the town of Smithtown, this park of more than 1,200 acres includes three miles of beaches, a golf course, biking & horse riding trails through heavily wooded rolling hills, plus facilities for a variety of watersports such as kayaking, canoeing & windsurfing.

Hallock State Park Preserve: Originally set to be called Jamestown State Park, this newly created site in the town of  Riverhead covers an area of 525 acres; 300 of which are used by local farmers to preserve the land from development. The park boasts a mile of pristine sandy beach along Long Island Sound, with trails for hiking & bird watching.

Heckscher State Park: This 1,469 acre park in the town of Islip is located on Great South Bay. The park was once part of a nineteenth century estate, & is named after August Heckscher, who donated money for the State of New York to buy the land. Commonly known as the “Home of the White-tailed Deer”, due to the abundance of this species, the park offers numerous camp sites & picnic areas, plus more than 20 miles of hiking, riding & skiing trails, as well as excellent boat launching, fishing & swimming sites.

Hither Hills State Park: Situated on the South Fork of Long Island in the town of East Hampton, Hither Hills State Park boasts two miles of sandy beach, a 40 acre freshwater lake, woodlands & the unique "walking dunes" of Napeague Harbor (see photo, right). The park contains a nature trail & camping facilities, & is a popular destination for hiking, horse riding, fishing & hunting.

 

 

 

Montauk Downs State Park: This 160 acre park located on the South Fork of Long Island is best known for its 72 par golf course, which was created in 1927. In 1968 the course was redesigned by Robert Trent Jones Jr. & is now ranked as one of the top 50 public golf courses in the USA. Other facilities include a driving range, tennis courts, swimming pool & catering facilities.

Montauk Point State Park: Located in the hamlet of Montauk on the easternmost point of Long Island, Montauk Point State Park covers 724 acres & is heavily wooded, with trails for hiking & cross country skiing, together with beaches noted for surf fishing. The park also contains Montauk Point Lighthouse. Completed in 1796, the tower’s height was increased from 80 to 11o ft in 1860.  Initially all white, the brown band seen around the tower today was added in 1900. It is the fourth oldest working lighthouse in the country. At the foot of the lighthouse are two ponds, known as the “Money Ponds”, as it is said that the famous pirate Captain Kidd buried treasure here around the year 1699.

Napeague State Park; This 1,364 acre site in East Hampton traverses the entire width of the South Fork of Long Island. This park features a pristine stretch of beach on the Atlantic coast which is a breeding ground for the rare piping plover. It is administered by the nearby Hither Hills State Park.

Nissequogue River State Park: As the name suggests, this park is situated on the banks of the Nissequogue River in the town of Smithtown, on Long Island’s north shore. It was formerly the site of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center, some of the buildings of which still stand.  A mixture of tidal & freshwater wetlands, plus forested areas, make this a natural habitat for a wide variety of animals & plants. The trails along the river are popular with hikers, whilst the park also offers facilities for canoeing, kayaking, fishing & bird watching; part of the park having been designated a State Bird Conservation Area. Some of the steep bluffs are also a popular attraction for rock climbers.

Orient Beach State Park: Orient Beach State Park is a 363 acre park situated on the North Fork of Long Island in the town of Southold overlooking Gardiners Bay. It contains Long Beach; a two & a half mile long sand spit, that has been designated a National Natural Landmark.  Away from the beach, the salt marshes give way to maritime forest, which includes red cedar, black-jack oak trees and prickly-pear cactus. Also within the park is the Orient Long Beach Bar Light (see photo,left), also known as the “Bug Light”. Originally built in 1871, the lighthouse was destroyed by fire in 1963, but has since been rebuilt & returned to active service in 1993.

Robert Moses State Park: Occupying the western end of Fire Island in the town of Babylon, the park was originally known as Fire Island State Park & was established in 1908; making it the oldest state park on Long Island.  The name derives from Robert Moses who headed the Long Island State Park Commission from its foundation in 1924. This 875 acre park stretches for four & a half miles & is a popular spot for swimming, surfing, boating & fishing & also includes an eighteen hole pitch & putt golf course.

Shadmoor State Park: Another state park on the South Fork, in the extreme east of Suffolk County, Shadmoor is located to the east of Montauk village in the town of East Hampton. The 99 acre park consists of a beach, bluffs, freshwater wetlands & hiking trails. The first part of the name derives from the shadbush that is prevalent in the area, whilst the second part pertains to the rolling landscape or moorland. The park is popular with bird watchers & also offers good saltwater fishing. The park was created on the site of two World War II artillery fire stations, & two concrete observation bunkers can still be seen here.

Wildwood State Park: Situated in the town of Riverhead, this 600 acre park consists mainly of undeveloped forest overlooking Long Island Sound. The park contains a campsite & picnic areas, & the two miles of beach are a popular location for swimming & fishing, whilst the twelve miles of trails are a favourite destination for hikers, bikers & cross country skiers.

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Suffolk County Parks

Blydenburgh County Park: This park is located at the headwaters of the Nissequogue River in Smithtown & encompasses 627 acres of forested hills & valleys for horse riding, hiking, rowing & fishing. The Blydenburgh Farm & New Mill Historic District (see photo, left) is situated within the park, which includes the mill dating from 1798 & the farmhouse from the 1820s. Guided tours are available, which illustrate the farm-to-mill market cycle of the pre-industrial age. The mill is owned by Suffolk County & listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Brookside County Park: Located in Sayville in the town of Islip, this water park was the former estate of architect Isaac H. Green.

Cathedral Pines County Park:  This 320 acre park with camping & picnic facilities is situated along the headwaters of the Carmans River in the town of Brookhaven. Adjoining the site is the Prosser Pines Nature Preserve, which boasts a stand of white pines planted in 1812 from seedlings brought from Quebec by an officer in the French and Indian War of 1754 – 63.

Cedar Point County Park: This park in East Hampton offers fishing, hiking, cycling, boating, scuba diving, camping & picnicking in a 607 acre setting overlooking Gardiner’s Bay. Built in 1868, Cedar Point Lighthouse originally stood on an island 200 yards from shore. A hurricane in 1938, however, created a strip of land that now connects the lighthouse to the mainland. (see also Museums & Historic Buildings of Suffolk County section, below)

Cranberry Bog County Nature Preserve: Situated in Riverhead, this 165 acre site is a natural reservoir which forms part of the drainage system of the Peconic River. It is a haven for wildlife & is popular with hikers.

Cupsogue Beach County Park: Although in the town of Brookhaven, Cupsogue Beach County Park is only accessible from Dune Road in the town of Southampton. This 296 acre barrier beach park on Westhampton Dunes boasts white sandy beaches & offers fishing & scuba diving amongst its attractions.

Dwarf Pines Plains Preserve: The name of this preserve, in the town of Southampton,  derives from the stunted growth of the trees in the area; a result of poor soil conditions that allows the dominant pitch pines & scrub oak to grow only to an average height of around 3 to 6 feet. Long Island Dwarf Pine Plains is a rare ecosystem that supports many rare & uncommon species of flora & fauna. It is a haven for a wide variety of birds such as black-throated green warbler, nighthawk, marsh hawk, whippoorwill & several species of owls.

Gardiner County Park: Located on the Great South Bay in the town of Islip, Gardiner County Park is a 231 acre nature orientated site with three & a half miles of trails. The park is named after the Gardiner family, who were the first English settlers in New York State. The park was once part of the Sagtikos Manor Estate.

Green’s Creek County Park:  Green’s Creek County Park in Islip is a four acre site with a boardwalk on the Great South Bay.

Indian Island County Park: The 275 acre Indian Island County Park in Riverhead is situated at the estuary of the Peconic River. It offers trailer & tent campsites & is a popular hiking & fishing resort. What was formerly the "island” is now connect to the mainland by a white sand causeway.  

Lakeland County Park: This park is located in the town of Islip around the headwaters of the Connetquot River. Its fully accessible facilities include nature trail boardwalks & a picnic area.

Lake Ronkonkoma County Park: Straddling the boundaries of the towns of Brookhaven, Islip & Smithtown, this park offers fishing & a picnic area, together with baseball, handball & basketball facilities. (For details of Lake Ronkonkoma, see Islip section, above)

Meschutt Beach County Park: Situated in Hampton Bays in the town of Southampton, Meschutt Beach County Park is a supervised bathing beach located on Great Peconic Bay, which also includes camping & picnic areas.

Pine Barrens Trails Information Center:  Situated in Manorville in the town of Brookhaven, the Information Center is situated close to several access points to hiking trails in the Pine Barrens. It provides information & exhibits on the environment & wildlife of the region.

Long Island Pine Barrens (or Long Island Central Pine Barrens) is an area of around 100,000 acres of temperate coniferous forest that supports plant communities that occur on dry, acidic, infertile soils dominated by grasses, low shrubs & pine trees. It is Long Island’s last remaining wilderness. Pine Barrens also occur in other parts of northeastern USA from Maine to New Jersey.

Raynor Beach County Park: This park at Lake Ronkonkoma has a picnic area & walking trails, as well as fields & courts for a variety of sports such as baseball, soccer & tennis.

Robert Cushman Murphy County Park: This park at Manorville in Brookhaven, as well as offering fishing, hiking, hunting & boating, is also the site of a biological research centre, due to its rare coastal plain pondshore habitat.

San Souci County Park: Situated at Bayport in the town of Islip, this 316 acre nature preserve includes several lakes & is a haven for wildlife. The name San Souci means “without worries” or “carefree” in French.

Sear Bellows County Park: Located at Hampton Bays, Sear Bellows County Park has an extensive trail system for hiking & horse riding, as well as offering rowing, fishing & waterfowl hunting.

Shinnecock Canal County Marina: The marina is situated within Hampton Bays in Southampton, & is within walking distance of Meschutt Beach County Park (see above). The marina offers berths for up to 50 vessels at a time & is ideally situated for boats cruising the Peconic Bay area.

Shinnecock East County Park: This park in Southampton is a rugged, undeveloped barrier beach & is situated at the eastern border of the Shinnecock Inlet where it meets the Atlantic. It includes camping facilities & is a favourite resort for saltwater fishing.

Smith Point County Park:  Situated in the eastern part of Fire Island, Smith Point County Park is Suffolk’s largest oceanfront park. With its white sands, the beach here is a haven for sunbathers, swimmers, surfers & scuba divers, as well as offering camping facilities.

South Haven County Park: With the Carmans River flowing through pine & oak forests, this Brookhaven park has camping & picnic sites, & is a popular location for hiking, fishing, rowing & canoeing. During the nineteenth century, the river was a favoured site for the Suffolk Club; once the most exclusive sportsmen’s club in the New York City area. The area later became known as the Suffolk Lodge Game Preserve. In the 1960s South Haven became Suffolk County’s first park opened to the public.

The park is also headquarters to the Long Island Live Steamers; a model railway club founded in 1966, whose aim is to promote the hobby of building model steam engines. Two railroads run through the park, which offer rides on scale models of steam, diesel and electric trains on certain days of the year.

Suffolk County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park: This memorial park is located at Bald Hill, Farmingdale in the town of Brookhaven; one of the highest points in Long Island, which offers spectacular views of Suffolk County. The monument itself is a sharply sloping pyramid painted red, white & blue, in honour of the veterans of the Vietnam War.

Theodore Roosevelt County Park: Located at Montauk in East Hampton, this park has trails for hiking, horse riding & biking, as well as offering fishing, canoeing, camping & picnic facilities. The park includes Deep Hollow Ranch, Third House & Camp Wikoff (see East Hampton section, above), as well as the ecologically important Big Reed Pond, & the remains of the Native American Montaukett Village.

Timber Point County Marina: This marina is situated on the Great South Bay in the hamlet of Great River, Islip.

West Hills County Park: This forested park in Huntington has many hiking & bridle paths, including the Walt Whitman Trail that leads up Jayne’s Hill; which is Long Island’s highest point at around 400 ft.  A monument on the summit contains a plaque with Whitman’s poem “Paumanok”.

 

 

 

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National Wildlife Refuges of Suffolk County

The Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex comprises nine sites, seven of which are located in Suffolk County.

Amagansett National Wildlife Refuge: This refuge in East Hampton was established in 1968 & covers an area of 36 acres. The location is a unique double dune system, which incorporates sandy beach, primary dunes, secondary dunes, swales, fens, cranberry bogs & oak scrub. Many species of birds winter here, including white winged scoter, common loon, horned grebe, Cooper's hawk, sharp-shinned hawk & Ipswich sparrow. The refuge is also home to the threatened eastern hognose snake.

Conscience Point National Wildlife Refuge: Located in the hamlet of North Sea in the town of Southampton, this 60 acre refuge was created in 1971 & includes maritime grasslands, oak-beech forest, kettle holes & shrub, as well as both salt & freshwater marshes (see photo, left). The maritime grasslands, now a threatened habitat on Long Island, are managed for migratory birds such as grasshopper sparrow, eastern meadowlark & savannah sparrow.  Little bluestem grass, switch grass, poverty grass, hairgrass & prickly pear cactus are all found growing here.

Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge: Located in the hamlet of Noyack, the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge is a 187 acre reserve on a peninsula that stretches out into Noyack and Little Peconic Bays. The refuge was created in 1954 & boasts a diverse range of habitats such as salt marsh, freshwater marsh, oak forest, tidal flats, scrub & grassland. The north/south orientation of the peninsula makes this an important refuge for such threatened bird species as the piping plover, least tern & roseate tern. The surrounding waters are also an important habitat for both loggerhead & Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

Sayville National Wildlife Refuge: Sayville National Wildlife Refuge is located in the town of Islip & is actually classed as a sub-unit of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge. Situated two miles inland from the Great South Bay, the refuge supports a wide variety of bird species, & consists mainly of oak-pitch pine forests interspersed with grasslands.

Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge: This 196 acre refuge borders Champlin Creek in the town of Islip. The area consists of salt marsh, forest & grassland habitats bordering the Great South Bay. More than 200 species of birds have been recorded here.

Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge: Consisting of rocky beaches & oak-hickory forests, the 80 acre Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Lloyd Neck peninsula in the town of Huntington. The refuge attracts a wide selection of wildlife, including harbour seals &, in spring, several species of warblers.

Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge: One of the last undeveloped estuary systems remaining on Long Island, the 2,550 acre Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge is situated on the Carmans River estuary at Shirley in the town of Brookhaven. The refuge features a diverse array of habitats including salt marsh, freshwater marsh, red maple swamp &, on the uplands, oak-pine forests, shrub & grasslands. The refuge is a wintering ground for a wide variety of wildfowl species, most notably the black duck.

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The Big Duck

Now situated in the hamlet of Flanders in Southampton, The Big Duck is a large timber framed, ferrocement building in the shape of a duck.  The building is 30 ft long, 15 ft wide, 20 ft tall, & is painted all white apart from its orange beak. The eyes are two Model-T taillights that are lit at night.

It was constructed in 1931 by duck farmer Martin Maurer and his wife Jeule as a shop for selling ducks and duck eggs, and was originally sited in West Main Street in Riverhead.  In 1936 the Maurers decided to move their shop to Route 24 in Flanders where they had purchased a new farm.  In early 1937 the Big Duck was moved there and the Big Duck Ranch came into existence.  The duck farm closed down in 1984 but the new owners kept the Big Duck until 1987, when the owners donated it to Suffolk County, at which time it was moved again; this time to Sears Bellows County Park.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.  In October 2007 the Big Duck was returned to its original location on the Big Duck Ranch which was itself purchased by Southampton Town in 2006 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.  The shop still operates, now as a tourism centre for the east end of Long Island, selling duck souvenirs to city weekend-trippers.  Each December, the Suffolk County Parks Department sponsors the “Annual Holiday Lighting of the Big Duck”.  Local school children sing carols, and warm refreshments are dispensed while awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus to flip the switch to light up the Big Duck.

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Sagtikos Manor

Sagtikos Manor is located in West Bay Shore, in the town of Islip. The original house was built in the 1690s by New York City's first native-born mayor, Stephanus Van Cortlandt, although additions to the house were made throughout the eighteenth century.

The Sagtikos Manor Estate originally covered some 1,200 acres & was shaped like the head of a snake; Sagtikos being the local Native American word for “head of the hissing snake”. During the American Revolutionary War, the manor was used as the headquarters for British troops, whilst President George Washington is known to have stayed here in 1790 during a tour of Long Island. The east & west wings were added in the early years of the twentieth century, designed by architect Isaac H. Green Jr.

In 1935, the house was first opened to the public as an historic house museum by the then owner Robert David Lion Gardiner, who owned the house until 1985, when he deeded it to the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. The Sagtikos Historic Society was formed in 1964, & since 1976 the manor has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1971 Suffolk County bought the surrounding Gardiner County Park, & in 2002 purchased the manor itself.

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Museums & Historic Buildings of Suffolk County

Amelia Cottage Museum: Sometimes known as Miss Amelia’s Cottage, this house was built in 1725 for Catherine Schellinger. Located on Main Street, Amagansett in the town of East Hampton, the museum records local life from Colonial times up until the early twentieth century. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1994. Exhibits include Colonial furnishings & a rare Dominy clock.  Situated in a barn at the rear of the cottage is the Roy K. Lester Carriage Museum, which houses a collection of historic buggies & carriages either built or used locally. Both museums are run by the Amagansett Historical Association.

American Airpower Museum: Located at Republic Airport, East Farmingdale in the town of Babylon, this museum can be found on the former site of Republic Aviation Corporation, an aircraft manufacturing company noted for building such planes as the World War II P-47 Thunderbolt fighter.

The museum features many static displays such as a  Republic F-84 jet fighter, a Curtiss-Wright P40 Warhawk, a rare example of the swept-wing RF-84F reconnaissance variant, a Republic F-105 Thunderchief, a P-51 Mustang & a Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.

The museum is also one of very few that flies historic aircraft, such as a Douglas C-47 Skytrain used during the D-Day landings, & an original Republic P-47D fighter.

Babylon Village Historical Society Museum: The site of this museum was donated to the people of Babylon by the children of newspaper editor Henry Livingston (1837-1906). It showcases life in Babylon from the 1800s onwards.   

Bald Hill Schoolhouse: Housed in an historic one-room school building in the hamlet of Farmingville in Brookhaven, this museum is located within the Farmingville Hills Park. Built in 1850, it closed as a school in 1929 & is now owned by the Farmingville Hills Historical Society. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Bayport Aerodrome: Located in the town of Islip, Bayport Aerodrome, formerly known as Davis Field, is an historic rural airport. Tours are offered by the Bayport Aerodrome Society, a non profit organisation established in 1972 that specialises in antique aircraft.

The Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society: The Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society is devoted to the preservation & interpretation of the history of the Bellport, Brookhaven & East Patchogue area. The society operates seven buildings & structures on a two acre site in Bellport Village:
The Federal-style Post-Crowell House, built in 1883 by master ship-builder Hiram Post, & the adjacent Milk House, which showcases exhibits on local dairies; The Ralph Brown Building, a former hardware store dating from the nineteenth century; The Blacksmith’s Shop; The Barn Museum, which, amongst other things, includes a gun collection & a doll & toy collection; The John Chester Memorial Boathouse, which houses two restored boats - the Gil Smith catboat Jealousy & the fully rigged scooter Three-In-One; The Emilie R. Underhill Studio, which houses the Museum Exchange Shop. The complex also displays a gazebo dating from the 1850s.

Caleb Smith II House: On North Street in Smithtown, the Caleb Smith II House was completed in 1819.  This was built by the son of the more famous Caleb Smith (1724-1800) whose estate is now a State Park. Originally situated on Jericho Turnpike, the house was moved to its present location in 1955. The former headquarters for the Smithtown Historical Society, the building now serves as the Society’s exhibition hall, displaying decorative arts, textiles, costumes and documents. (See also Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in the State Parks of Suffolk County section, above)

Cedar Island Lighthouse: Also known as the Cedar Point Lighthouse. This stands on the end of a sand spit at Cedar Point State Park (see Suffolk County Parks section, above).  When it was originally built, the lighthouse was on Cedar Island.  However, a hurricane in 1938 filled in the 200-yard gap between the island and the shore, turning it into a peninsula now known as Cedar Point.  The original Cedar Island Lighthouse was a wood frame tower built in 1839.  By 1867 this was so dilapidated that Congress gave approval for the present lighthouse of granite blocks to be built which was completed in 1868.  To reduce maintenance costs, the light was decommissioned in 1934.  The lighthouse then passed into private ownership; one of its former owners being Phelan Beale, whose wife was Edith Beale, the aunt of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (see below). The lighthouse became part of Suffolk County’s park system in 1967, but remained empty and was later vandalised and gutted by fire in 1974.  It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.  This enabled steps to be taken to restore the lighthouse.  In 2013 a 4½ ton lantern room was hoisted into place as part of the first phase.

Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum: Located in the hamlet of Cold Spring Harbor in the town of Huntington, this maritime museum is dedicated to the history of the local whaling industry (see photo, left). Exhibits include New York State’s only fully equipped nineteenth century whaleboat, as well as a large collection of scrimshaw (carvings done in bone or ivory). Also displayed are whaling artifacts, ship’s gear, navigational aids & maritime art. There is also a library & archival collection of documents & manuscripts relating to the Long Island whaling industry, such as ship’s logs, journals & other historical documents dealing with maritime commerce.

 

David Conklin Farmhouse Museum: Containing artifacts to illustrate the Colonial, Federal & Victorian periods of US history, this house on High Street in Huntington was built around 1750 & remained in the Conklin family for over 150 years. It was one of the first museums to be established on Long Island, having been acquired by the Huntington Historical Society in 1911. One of the highlights of this museum is the table and chair used by George Washington during his tour of Long Island in 1790. Other displays include collections of local pottery, clocks & toys.

Dr. Daniel Kissam House Museum: Noted for its architectural detail, this three-quarter plan house was built in 1795 by Timothy Jarvis, & was first occupied by Dr. Daniel Whitehead Kissam, a physician from Oyster Bay. The house was acquired by Huntington Historical Society in 1967. The museum details the history of the Kissam family, as well as displaying other items from the Society’s collection. Located at 434 Park Avenue in Huntington, the house is open to the public by appointment only.

East Hampton Historical Society Museum: East Hampton Historical Society maintain three adjacent properties on Main Street: Clinton Academy (see photo, right), built in 1784, was one of the first academies in the state of New York chartered by the Board of Regents. Built in the late Georgian style the co-educational Academy prepared its young male students for college or for careers such as seafaring or surveying, whilst its female students were educated in spiritual matters & the finer points of being a lady. After the chartered academy system was abolished, the building served at various times as a community center, a playhouse, the town offices & the offices of The East Hampton Star. Restored in 1921, the museum also includes the Mimi Meehan Native Plant Garden at the rear of the property; The Town House, dating from around 1785, is the only existing town government meeting place to survive from the Colonial period on Long Island. It was acquired by the East Hampton Historical Society in 1958; Hook Schoolhouse, dating from around 1784, is a tiny Georgian designed frame building  which was originally located on North Main Street, but has been moved around East Hampton Village on several occasions, before being brought to its present location. The building has been restored & furnished to reflect mid eighteenth century hornbook schooling.

East Hampton Town Marine Museum: Located on Bluff Road in Amagansett, the East Hampton Town Marine Museum showcases artifacts, photographs, models & displays documenting the people of East Hampton’s relationship with the sea.  The museum also features the Claus Hoie Gallery of Whaling, where many works by the local artist of that name are permanently on display.

Fire Island Light: Situated on the west of the Island, the lighthouse is open to the public daily. (See Fire Island section, above)

Hallockville Museum Farm: Also known as the Hallock Farm or Hallock Homestead, this farm house with out-buildings was originally built in 1765. Several generations of the Hallock family occupied the house from sometime after the American Revolution up until 1979. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum was created to preserve & interpret the history of farming on the North Fork of Long Island. Hallockville Museum Farm can be found on Sound Avenue in the town of Riverhead.

Havens House Museum: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, Havens House on South Ferry Road, Shelter Island was built in 1743 on the 1,000 acre farm of William Havens, whose descendants occupied the property until 1913. Acquired by the Shelter Island Historical Society in 1966, the building has been restored & now showcases furnishings, textiles & decorative objects associated with the history of the house. A barn was built on the property in 1988, which is in use as an exhibition area.   

Heckscher Museum of Art: Named after its benefactor, August Heckscher, this museum is located in Heckscher Park, in the town of Huntington. Philanthropist Heckscher was born in Germany but emigrated to the United States in 1867. He founded The  Heckscher Foundation for Children & created the Heckscher Playground in New York City’s Central Park, as well as Heckscher Park (see State Parks of Suffolk County section, above) & the Heckscher Museum of Art. Founded in 1920, the museum now houses more than 2,000 works of art, specializing in American landscape painting, but also featuring American and European modernism. The most famous painting in the collection is “Eclipse of the Sun” by George Grosz (1926).

Horton Point Light: Situated on Long Island Sound in the town of Southold, this working lighthouse dating from 1857 is now open as a museum. Visitors are permitted to climb up the 58ft high tower. The Lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 & was completely renovated during 2005/6.

Long Island Maritime Museum: Founded in 1966, the Long Island Maritime Museum can be found on West Avenue in the hamlet of West Sayville in Islip. It is situated on the waterfront grounds of the former Meadowedge estate of Mrs Florence Bourne Hard. The museum is the current home to two vessels which have been designated National Historic Landmarks, the sloops Priscilla, dating from 1888, & Modesty, built in 1923. Also on the 14 acre site are The Rudolph Oyster House, commercial oyster culling building; Frank F. Penney BoatshopBayman’s Cottage & The Everitt-Lawrence Small Craft Exhibition Building. Permanent exhibits include displays on Long Island shipwrecks & the United States Lifesaving Service.

Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages: This open air museum is located in Stony Brook in the town of Brookhaven. Founded in 1939 as the Museums at Stony Brook, it obtained its present name in 2000. As well as a collection of nearly 200 historic carriages, the nine acre site also boasts a permanent collection of over 40,000 items dating from the late eighteenth century to the present, including artifacts of everyday life & works of art. The museum houses the largest collection of work by the Hudson River School painter William Sidney Mount (1807-68). In 2006 the museum became a Smithsonian Affiliate.

Manor St George: Originally an estate covering 64,000 acres, Manor St George is situated on land purchased by William “Tangier” Smith in the seventeenth century. Two sections of Manor St George, in the town of Brookhaven, have been preserved & are now open to the public.  The main house, called the Manor of St George, is located on a 127 acre site in the village of Mastic Beach, whilst another house, known as the Longwood Estate, can be found in the hamlet of Ridge. The Museum Manor of St. George is a private trust set up in 1955 to promote the Smith family history on Long Island.

The Maple Lane Museum Complex: Operated by the Southold Historical Society, this complex revolves around the Joseph Nelson Hallock House, also known as the Ann Currie-Bell House, which was left to the Society in 1964. Since then, the Society have either purchased or were donated other buildings, which were then moved to land adjacent to the original site. Maple Lane Museum Complex today comprises eleven buildings: Joseph Nelson Hallock House is listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. This example of Victorian architecture was built in 1900 & today contains much of the work of artist Thomas Currie-Bell (1873-1946); The Thomas Moore House, (also known as the Samuel Landon House) which dates from 1750, is a New England Colonial style house which showcases life before the industrial age with displays of pre-industrial artifacts; The Long Print Shop & Downs Carriage Shop, built in 1840 & now the Societys working print shop; The Gagen Blacksmith Shop, which dates from 1842 & now holds demonstrations of the blacksmith’s trade; The Farm Equipment Shed, which, as the name suggests, houses a collection of agricultural equipment; The Bay View School, built in 1822 & serving as a school until 1925, now  restored; The Pine Neck Barn, which dates from the eighteenth century, is now home to the Society’s collection of sleighs, carriages & other modes of transport; The Bay View Icehouse, a unique circular brick building with conical roof that dates from around 1875; The Overton Corncrib, dating from 1875; The Moore Outhouse, a typical late nineteenth century farm building, now restored; The Buttery, built from the remains of two outhouses, now exhibits equipment used in butter making.

The museum gift shop & archive centre is housed a short distance from the Maple Lane complex in the Henry W. Prince Dry Goods Store building, which was built in 1874 & is now fully restored, having been badly damaged by Hurricane Carol in 1954.

Mather House Museum: The Mather House dates from the middle of the nineteenth century & can be found on Prospect Street in the village of Port Jefferson in Brookhaven. It was the home of the local shipbuilding Mather family & is now the Headquarters of The Historical Society of Greater Port Jefferson. The museum’s collection includes many model ships, shipbuilding & sailmaking implements, period furnishings, antique dolls & toys, vintage clothing, & works by local artists. The museum complex also includes the Country Store, featuring a collection of items from an old fashioned barber shop, general store & butcher shop; & the Spinney Clock Museum, which displays 250 antique clocks.

Montauk Point Light: Located in Montauk Point State Park in the town of East Hampton, Montauk Point Light was the first lighthouse in New York State. Construction of the lighthouse was authorized by the Second Congress, under President George Washington in 1792, making this the first public works project of the United States of America. Building was completed in 1796. Renovated & enlarged in 1860, the museum of today is housed in the keeper’s house which dates from that period. The still active lighthouse was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012. (See also Montauk Point State Park in the State Parks of Suffolk County section, above)

Mulford Farm: One of America’s most significant  English colonial farmsteads still in existence, Mulford Farm is owned and operated by the East Hampton Historical Society. Built in 1680 by High Sheriff Josiah Hoba, an important official of the first New York Royal Province government, the house was bought in 1712 by Samuel “Fish Hook” Mulford. From then until 1949 more than ten generations of the Mulford family occupied the house. Also on the three acre site is the Mulford Barn, built in 1721. It is recognised as one of the most intact early eighteenth century English style barns in New York State, as it retains its original wooden frame & structure.

National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum: Situated at the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center on Hauppauge Road in the Hamlet of Commack, the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, as the name suggests, is dedicated to honouring American Jewish sportsmen & women. The Hall was established in 1993 & holds an annual induction ceremony. Plaques honouring those inducted are on permanent display.

Northport Historical Society Museum: Housed in the historic Northport Public Library in the village of Northport, Huntington, this “Jacobean Revival style building was constructed in 1914 & operated as a library until 1967.  It became home to the Northport Historical Society Museum in 1974 & was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

Obadiah Smith House: Operated as a museum by the Smithtown Historical Society, this two storey timber framed historic house is an example of an early Long Island building that incorporates both Dutch & English building styles (see photo, left). The house is situated on St Johnland Road in the hamlet of Kings Park & dates from around 1708.

The Old House: Located in Cutchogue in the town of Southold, The Old House is said to be one of the best surviving examples of English domestic architecture in America, and is now recognised as the oldest residential building in New York State (see Thomas Halsey Homestead below, formerly said to be “the oldest building”). Built in 1649 by John Budd, it was moved to its present location in 1660. It was restored in 1940 & has now been designated a National Historic Landmark. The Old House is part of Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council’s historical site which takes in several other buildings situated around the Village Green: The Old School House, Wickham Farm House, Carriage House, The Barn & Cutchogue Library.

Osborn-Jackson House: Now owned & maintained by the Village of East Hampton, the Osborn-Jackson House was built around 1723 for “Deacon” Daniel Osborn, whose family occupied the house until the mid twentieth century. The final owner, Lionel Jackson, donated the property for use as a museum in 1977. As well as a museum, the house also serves as the headquarters of the East Hampton Historical Society. The house is located on Main Street & features furnishings typical of the lifestyle of a post-colonial family. Highlights include furniture built in the East Hampton workshop of the Dominy family.

Parrish Art Museum: Founded in 1898, this art museum in the hamlet of Water Mill in the town of Southampton today boasts a permanent collection of more than 2,600 works of art dating from the nineteenth century to the present. The Museum was founded by quaker & attorney Samuel Longstreth Parrish, who established the museum to house his collection of Italian Renaissance painting & copies of Classical and Renaissance sculptures. The museum was initially situated at Jobs Lane in downtown Southampton, but due to expansion moved to a newly built complex in November 2012. The new building was designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron (famous for, amongst other things, the Tate Modern in London, the Beijing National Stadium in China & the Allianz Arena in Munich).

The museum holds significant collections by the artists William Merritt Chase & Fairfield Porter, as well as work by such well known figures as Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock  & Lee Krasner.

Pelletreau Shop: Part of the Southampton Historical Museum, this historic shop is located on Main Street. Built in 1696, it is the only trade shop dating from seventeenth century in the USA that has been in continuous use & in its original location. Its name derives from Francis Pelletreau who set up his business here in 1717, producing oil & candles from whales that had beached hereabouts. His grandson Elias Pelletreau began using the premises for making jewellery & silverware, & his descendants carried on this business until the nineteenth century. Opened to the public as a museum in 1966, the shop is now once again a working silversmiths & jewellers, & offers tours of the building as well as workshops in jewellery making.

Pollock-Krasner House and Studio: Tours of this studio and house, the former home of artists Jackson Pollock &  Lee Krasner, are organised during the summer months. (See also East Hampton section, above)

Railroad Museum of Long Island: Dedicated to preserving Long Island’s railroad heritage, this museum is spread over two sites, the main one being in Riverhead, with a smaller, satellite site in Greenport, Southold.

The Riverhead site is located in a former Nassau-Suffolk Lumber Company warehouse, to the east of the Riverhead LIRR station, where many rare passenger & freight cars are on display as well as a number of locomotives in various stages of restoration. The museum also includes the 16” gauge train originally built by Alan Herschel Company for the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Pavilion of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. This is now available for rides on a 670 ft long oval track.

The Greenport site is housed in the former freight house of Greenport Railroad Station, the terminus of the Main Line on the Long Island Rail Road. The site includes an old wooden caboose, plus photographs & artifacts detailing the history of the LIRR.

The Reichert Family Center & Cosden Price Gallery: Situated on the north side of State Route 25 in Southold, this building predates 1850. Known locally as the Beckwith Store, it was purchased by Capt. Sherburne Beckwith in 1864 & remained in that family until 1984. Today the building is used by Southold Historical Society for exhibitions. It is named after the Reichert family, who helped with funding for restoration work, & Carol Cosden Price who helped fund the purchase of the building.

Rogers Mansion Museum Complex: Run by the Southampton Historical Museum, the complex can be found in Meeting House Lane. The property was bought by William Rogers in 1648 & remained in his family until 1880. The mansion was built onto an earlier farmhouse in 1843 by the whaling Capt. Albert Rogers. It was purchased by Samuel Longstreth Parrish, founder of the Parrish Art Museum (see above), in 1899. In 1952 the Southampton Colonial Society (forerunner of the Southampton Historical Museum) acquired & began restoring the property. It now displays furnishings dating mainly from the Victorian & Georgian eras. The complex also comprises 12 historic buildings, collectively known as Old Southampton Village, which have been gathered together behind the mansion. These include a one-room schoolhouse, colonial era barn, nineteenth century paint store, blacksmith’s shop & cobbler’s shop.

Sag Harbor Customs House: Operated by the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, this historic customs house is situated at the junction of Main Street and Garden Street in Sag Harbor. Built in 1765, it was both the office & home of Henry Packer Dering, the first United States customs officer appointed in New York State under the new federal constitution by President George Washington. The house has been restored to the appearance it would have had in Derings day, with formal dining room, office, children’s room, kitchen, pantry & laundry evoking the daily activities of Dering & his family. 

Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum: Built in 1845, the Greek revival style building that today houses the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum was originally the home of Benjamin Huntting II, the owner of whaling ships who made his fortune from whale oil. In 1920, after the building was bought by the Masonic Lodge, the local historical society began exhibiting here. The Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum now owns the building, with the Masonic Temple still being situated on the second floor (see photo, left). The museum is dedicated to the town’s past as a prosperous whaling port & boasts the largest collection of whaling equipment in New York State. Also on display are furniture, household objects & childrens toys from the eighteenth & nineteenth centuries.

Sherwood-Jayne House: This historic home is located at East Setauket in the town of Brookhaven. Originally built around 1730, the house was a working farmstead belonging to the Jayne family for 150 years, before being acquired in 1908 by Howard C. Sherwood, the founder of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. The house, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, displays period furniture & antiques. Visiting is by appointment only.

Smithtown Historical Society Museum: Located on Middle County Road, this 22 acre property includes four historic buildings and two barns: The Old Library, a one room building dating from around 1890, which contains a collection of books; The Roseneath Cottage, now the Society’s headquarters, this 1918 building displays arts & crafts; The Epenetus Smith Tavern, which mainly dates from around 1740, was once a stop on the Brooklyn to Sag Harbor stagecoach route & was used by British soldiers during the American Revolutionary War. It was moved to its present location in 1972; The Judge John Lawrence Smith Homestead, which dates from the middle of the eighteenth century, served as Judge Smith’s family home & office. It is now used for school programs & educational events; The Frank Brush Barn, built in 1900 & now used for community projects, lectures, dances & musical recitals; The Franklin O. Arthur Farm, which showcases the region’s agricultural heritage. Parts of the farm buildings date back to the 1740s.

The Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Building: Dating from 1892, this building on Main Street, Huntington was constructed as a memorial to the townsmen of Huntington who died in the American Civil War. It was acquired by the Huntington Historical Society in 2000 & has since been restored & is now open to the public as a museum & visitor centre.

Stony Brook Grist Mill: Operated as a working mill museum by the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, this mill dating from around 1751 is Long Island’s most completely equipped working grist mill. It stands beside the mill pond that defines the boundary between the towns of Brookhaven & Smithtown.

Suffolk County Historical Society Building: Situated on West Main Street in Riverhead, Suffolk County Historical Society Building houses a museum & library. The building, designed by August Galow in the Colonial Revival style, dates from 1930, although the Society itself was established in 1886 by residents of Suffolk who were concerned about preserving the county’s heritage. The museum’s collections include Native American artifacts, farm implements, costumes & textiles, whaling tools, antique furniture, weapons & memorabilia from the Civil War period & works of art. An exhibition entitled Early Suffolk Transport displays horse drawn wagons, carriages, bicycles & a 1905 Curved Dash Oldsmobile, whilst other permanent exhibits include Early Suffolk Farm Life and The Rise of Crafts & From Near and Far: Ceramics in Suffolk County Households, 1750-1870.

Suydam House: Suydam House (or Suydam Homestead) is an historic house in Centerport, Huntington, run by the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association. Built around 1730 as a one room house, it has been enlarged & extended over the years & remained the property of the Suydam family until the 1950s. After becoming dilapidated, the house was restored during the 1990s & today displays many historic artifacts from the region.

Thomas Halsey Homestead: It used to be believed that the Thomas Halsey Homestead (Halsey House or The Hollyhocks as it is also known) was the oldest English-style house in New York State (see photo, right).  However, when the building was being renovated in 1999 the physical evidence indicated that it was probably built around 1666. An examination of the wills drawn up by the Halsey family, one of the original families in Southampton, showed that there were two houses: one built by Robert Halsey in 1648 on land that he acquired from the Shinnecocks in 1647, which no longer exists, & a second house built by his son, Robert Halsey Jnr on the same tract of land in 1666.  

Located on South Main Street in the town of Southampton, the building has been restored & is run by Southampton Historical Museum. Exhibits include seventeenth and eighteenth century furnishings, a high chest dating from around 1700 by local cabinetmaker Nathaniel Dominy, & a rare bible dating from the sixteenth century known as a “Breeches Bible” due to this version speaking of Adam and Eve wearing “breeches made of fig leaves”. The Halsey estate also includes Colonial revival-style gardens complete with herb garden, perennial borders & an apple orchard.

Van Bourgondien Farm House: Opened in 2012, this farmhouse in the town of Babylon was restored by Babylon Town Historical Society. It is situated on the tulip farm owned and operated by the Van Bourgondien family, & records the history of the Dutch bulb industry in Babylon from the 1920s onwards.   

Vanderbilt Museum: Located on the 43 acre estate known as Eagles Nest, this museum is named after motor racing enthusiast and yachtsman William Kissam Vanderbilt II (1878 -1944), who left the property to Suffolk County in his will, with provision that the mansion & grounds be used for a museum for his marine, natural history & ethnographic collections. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985, the 24 room Spanish revival style mansion, built between 1910 & 1936, was designed by New York architecture firm, Warren & Wetmore, who were also responsible for the design & construction of New York’s Grand Central Terminal. The mansion today displays furnishings & fine art, whilst the museum complex also includes a marine & natural history museum, curator’s cottage, seaplane hangar, boathouse & gardens.

Also on the site is the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium. Built during the 1970s, the planetarium boasts the Konica Minolta GeminiStar III projection system which features a full dome display projector & state of the art surround sound technology. Vanderbilt Museum can be found in Centerport in the town of Huntington.

Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site: Situated in West Hills in the town of Huntington, the farmhouse in which poet Whitman was born was named an “American Treasure” in 1998 by the White House Millennium Council.  (See Walt Whitman section, below)

Water Mill: As the name suggests Water Mill is an historic mill from which the census designated place & hamlet of Water Mill in the town of Southampton takes its name.  

In 1644 the settlement of Southampton gave Edward Howell 40 acres of land to build a mill.  It was situated several hundred yards north of the current site on Mill Creek. In 1789 permission was granted by the town to move the location south and build a new one, using parts from the old mill, at its present location.  By the early 1900s the building had fallen into disuse. In 1921 the Ladies Auxiliary of Water Mill leased the building and began to make necessary repairs. Twenty-one years later they owned the mill and in 1968 they began the process of restoring it as a museum.  In 1976 the historic water-powered grist mill was grinding once again, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.  Located on the west side of Mill Creek, the museum has also undertaken a Wetland Garden Project on the adjoining shoreline.

William Floyd House: Named after Brookhaven born William Floyd (1734-1821), one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the estate comprises the 25 room “Old Mastic House”, twelve outbuildings & family cemetery, plus 613 acres of forest, fields, marsh & trails ( See also Brookhaven section, above).

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The Amityville Horror

The village of Amityville in the town of Babylon gained notoriety after the publication of The Amityville Horror; a book written by Jay Anson that appeared in 1977. It purports to be a true account of paranormal phenomena encountered in 1975 by the Lutz family, who had recently moved into a large Dutch colonial house, located at 112 Ocean Avenue. The house had previously been the scene of a multiple murder by Ronnie DeFeo Jr. of his father, mother, two brothers and two sisters. Other sequel books by different authors followed & no less than nine films have been made about the events since 1979 (the first of which starred Suffolk County born actor Rod Steiger, see below).

The killings undoubtedly happened, but how much of the subsequent ghostly activity as detailed in the books actually took place is open to debate; although the family who experienced the supernatural events claim that the story is basically true. The house still exists but has been renovated & had its address changed to discourage tourists (see photo, left). Subsequent residents have reported no strange occurrences.

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The Montauk Monster

On 12th July 2008, the remains of a strange creature, later dubbed the Montauk Monster”, were found in Montauk, in the town of East Hampton, Suffolk County. Discovered on Ditch Plains Beach, a popular surfing spot at Rheinstein Estate Park, the creature was first reported by Jenna Hewitt & three friends, who took a photograph of the washed up remains (see photo, left).  At least one other witness also took pictures of the strange discovery. Although it was seen by several witnesses, what became of the carcass is unclear. It has been suggested that it was taken away & buried, although precisely where isn’t stated. Conspiracy theorists have even suggested that the creature was a mutant created at the nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center, & that the disappearance of the remains may have been part of a cover up.

The creature is generally reported to have been about as big as a medium sized dog, although the true size is difficult to gauge from the photographs. Its mouth appears, at least in some pictures, to be beaked. There is also evidence of sharp canine teeth, separate toes, a tail, & patchy fur on parts of the body.

Theories as to the species that this creature may have belonged to include dog, raccoon, coyote, sheep & sea turtle.  Another suggestion is that the beast is some kind of large rodent. Others maintain that this is a creature unknown to science (commonly known as a ‘cryptid’). The main bone of contention is the beak, upon which there is much divided opinion; some people suggesting that this may be an illusion created by the way it was lying in the sand, as well as its state of decomposition. The main objections to the prime candidates are:

That the prominent eye ridge is inconsistent with a dog or coyote.

That sea turtles don’t have teeth, there is no evidence of a shell, & that the corpse shows patches of fur or hair.

That sheep have two-toed hooves, unlike the toes visible in the pictures.

That the legs appear to be too long in proportion to the body for it to be a raccoon. 

On this latter point, although initial arguments insisted that the legs were far too long, proportionally, to match with a raccoon’s, biologists went on record with detailed skeletal comparison, dental patterns, correlating details on the front paws and skull that all pointed to the Montauk Monster being nothing more than a decomposing raccoon carcass missing part of its upper jaw. Not everyone is happy with this conclusion, however, with many still convinced that the creature belongs to an as yet unknown species. 

So if it doesn’t fit the profile for any known animal, what was the Montauk Monster; known species or cryptid? The truth may never be known for certain.

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Suffolk County Potter’s Field

We include this piece because, although undoubtedly known to our readers in New York State, it embodies much of what we often see in Hollywood movies about the appearance of old, abandoned American cemeteries and it really exists.

In 1871, Suffolk County established a county-wide poor house in one institution located on Yaphank Avenue in Yaphank.  The Almshouse was a large building.  It housed Suffolk County’s homeless population.  Across the road from the Almshouse was the Children’s Home, where orphans aged two to sixteen lived.  Associated with the Almshouse was a farm that still exists where many residents worked.  In 1929, the terms ‘almshouse’ and ‘poorhouse’ were no longer used, and it was renamed the Suffolk County Home.  In 1937, a new Suffolk County Home was built further down Yaphank Avenue.  The old brick building became Suffolk County Offices.  The recently renovated county building still bears the n
ame “The Suffolk Home” on its doorway.

A “potter’s field” is anot
her name used in America for a paupers’ cemetery, i.e. a common graveyard for unknown or poor people.  It is of Biblical origin, referring to a ground where clay was dug for pottery, later bought by the high priests of Jerusalem for the burial of strangers, criminals and the poor.  This cemetery was the final resting place for the “inmates” of the almshouse, orphanage and county asylum.  Burial at Potter’s Field was a sombre affair.  Graves were dug by hand and the deceased was laid to rest in nothing but a plain pine box.  The sad thing is that the only memorial to the existence of a once living human being is a small stone marker with a number.  The cemetery consists of row after row of graves bearing only numbers.  Very few have names.  The numbers go up to 1000.

As often portrayed by Hollywood, this abandoned cemetery lies isolated away from the community or any other buildings, never visited by relatives, since there are none known.  As the photographs show, the entrance has the eerie look often seen in films of a bare wooden board engraved with a name reminiscent of poverty.  Although not overgrown, the row after row of solitary small numbered stones provide a desolate picture of the graves of adults and children, unknown to any relatives and unnamed in the afterlife.  It is not surprising that stories of unusual activity here abound.  Investigators have observed several bright white/blue balls of light floating approx. 6-7 feet above the ground around the cemetery that cannot be explained by passing cars.  The lights were moving away from the road, sometimes jumping from tree to tree.  Often voices are heard in the woods when it is evident that people are not there.  The more rational explanation is that the lights were probably glowing balls of naturally produced gases.  This is a rare but natural non-paranormal phenomenon, known as Will o the Wisp. (See also The Suffolk Light on the Suffolk, Virginia page.)

(The Almshouse Cemetery is located just south of the Long Island Expressway at Exit 67.  Driving north on Yaphank Avenue, take the east entrance ramp to the Long Island Expressway (I495).  There is woodland on both sides of the ramp but, on the right just before entering the expressway, there is an open field.  The cemetery with its entrance is just beyond that field.  A slip way to the field comes off the ramp.)

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Suffolk Traction Company

The Suffolk Traction Company was formed to operate a streetcar system in Suffolk County, New York, and was in operation from 1909 to 1919.

The original concept by Joseph Robin, a New York banker and railroad man, was to build a line connecting Suffolk County with New York City, and a cross-island line from coast to coast.  In 1903 he established the South Shore Traction Company but, because of litigation from opposing interests, it was not until 1909 that it was able to provide a horse-drawn streetcar service from the southern shore to Sayville Railroad Station in Suffolk County.  In 1908 the Suffolk Traction Company was established to provide the cross-island link, and this also opened in 1909, primarily between Patchogue and Holtsville.  The South Shore Traction Company was unable to break the monopoly that the Long Island Rail Road held in Nassau County, so it sold out to the Suffolk Traction Company in 1910, and the Sayville track was absorbed into the Patchogue, Blue Point, Bayport to Sayville line.  Suffolk Traction planned an extension north of Holtsville to Port Jefferson on the north shore.  In fact, the track was laid from Port Jefferson to quite a distance south, but it never made it to Holtsville nor was it ever used because the company went bankrupt.  The Suffolk Traction Company dispensed with horses and had streetcars operated by batteries instead of overhead power lines.  The service was slow and expensive and, as a result, the company went under in 1919 and service ceased.

The four current roads that originally carried the trolley (traction) line between Patchogue and Holtsville are South Ocean Avenue, North Ocean Avenue, Old North Ocean Avenue and Traction Boulevard.  The latter road crossed over the southeast corner of Canaan Lake in North Patchogue and headed in a northwesterly direction towards Holtsville.  This was originally called Suffolk Traction Boulevard and was built for the sole purpose of providing a route for a trolley car.  Today the trolley car route has gone, and the road is now just called Traction Boulevard.

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Walt Whitman

Poet, essayist and journalist Walter ‘Walt’ Whitman was born in Huntington, Suffolk County in May 1819. One of nine children, the family moved to Brooklyn when Walter was just four years old.
After leaving school he worked as an apprentice for two Long Island newspapers; firstly The Patriot, later moving to the Long Island Star. It was during this period that he had some of his early poetry published anonymously in the New York Mirror. After leaving The Star, Whitman spent some time teaching, before returning to Suffolk County, where he established his own newspaper, the Long Islander in 1838. Having sold the newspaper ten months later, he spent the next ten years or so alternating between teaching & working for several different New York newspapers. Throughout the 1840s he contributed freelance essays, fiction & poetry to various publications.

In 1855, Whitman published his most famous work; Leaves of Grass. With an expanded edition published the following year, this was a collection of his poetry that he continually added to & rewrote for the remainder of his life; several issues & editions being published including what is known as the ‘deathbed edition’ of 1892. Whitman’s claim at this time was that Leaves of Grass was “at last complete”. A book that had initially numbered just 12 poems now comprised almost 400. The book has caused much controversy over the years & has been labelled obscene in some quarters.

During the American Civil War, Whitman moved to Washington DC, where he volunteered as a nurse in the army hospitals, before holding posts in various government offices. In February 1868, Poems of Walt Whitman was published in England. After suffering a stroke in 1873, Whitman moved to Camden, New Jersey, where he lived until his death in March 1892. He is buried in Harleigh Cemetery in Camden.

Aside from Leaves of Grass, his other volumes of poetry include Drum Traps (1865) & Good-Bye, My Fancy (1891), whilst his prose works include Franklin Evans; or, The Inebriate (1842), Specimen Days and Collect (1881) & November Boughs (1888).

The farmhouse in the town of Huntington, in which Walt Whitman was born, was built in the period 1815 -19 by the poet’s father. It has now been restored & is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house is open as a museum & includes nineteenth century furniture, as well as Whitman’s original manuscripts & letters, together with many portraits & other artifacts.

There is also a Walt Whitman High School & a Walt Whitman Shopping Mall; both in Huntington, Suffolk County.

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Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Born in Southampton, Suffolk County on 28th July 1929, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier spent much of her childhood in New York City & at ‘Lasata’, the family home in East Hampton, Suffolk. From an early age she was interested in writing & had several essays & poems printed in various magazines; winning Vogue magazine's Prix de Paris contest in 1951. After graduating from George Washington University, Washington DC, she took a job as a photographer for The Washington Times-Herald. In May 1952, she was introduced to the then United States Representative, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Their engagement was announced in June 1953 & they were married in September of that same year at St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode Island. The couple had two children who survived infancy, Caroline Bouvier Kennedy & John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr.; the latter born just two weeks after her husband had won the election to become 35th President of the United States. During her time in the White House, Jacqueline became one of the most popular of First Ladies; planning social events & entertaining many visiting international dignitaries. Her support for the National Cultural Center in Washington DC led to the White House hosting performances of opera, ballet, Shakespeare and modern jazz. She also oversaw the restoration of the White House interior; her efforts resulting in the establishment of the White House Historical Association.

On 22nd November 1963, Jacqueline Kennedy, together with Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie, were present in the car when President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas.  She spent the next year in mourning & was seldom seen in public during this period.  She later attended many memorial events in her husband’s name, such as the christening of the Navy aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy in Newport News, Virginia in 1967, the official memorial to President Kennedy at Runnymede, England, & the establishment of the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.

In October 1968, Jacqueline Kennedy married wealthy Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis on Skorpios, his private island in Greece. At this time, the press gave her the nickname “Jackie O”.

In March 1975, Jacqueline Onassis was widowed for the second time, after Aristotle died in Paris. Soon after this she became a literary editor, as well as working to preserve and protect America’s cultural heritage, which included a prominent role in the campaign to save & renovate Grand Central Terminal in New York City. During the latter years of her life, she lived in New York with Belgian born businessman & diamond merchant Maurice Tempelsman.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at her Fifth Avenue penthouse apartment on 19th May 1994. Her funeral was held on 23rd May at Saint Ignatius Loyola Church in Manhattan & she was buried with her husband, the late President, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Today there are many lasting memorials to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, including the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park, New York, the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden at the White House & the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School for International Careers in New York.

A range of jewellery, named the Jacqueline Kennedy Collection, is produced by Camrose & Kross of New Jersey. This includes necklaces, rings, brooches, watches & sunglasses.

(See also The Kennedy Family section on the Suffolk, Massachusetts page)

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Rod Steiger

Actor Rodney Stephen "Rod" Steiger was born in Westhampton, Suffolk County, New York in April 1925. After serving in the US Navy during the Second World War, Steiger began studying drama at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York; beginning his stage & TV career in the early 1950s.

His big break came in 1953, when he played the part of Marty in an episode of Philco Television Playhouse; although he later turned down this same role in the film version in 1955. In 1954 he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for On the Waterfront, in which he played alongside Marlon Brando. He appeared in two of the biggest films to come out in 1965; Doctor Zhivago & The Pawnbroker; the latter seeing him nominated for another Oscar, this time as Best Actor. Two years later he was nominated & won this coveted award for his portrayal of Chief of Police Bill Gillespie in In the Heat of the Night, in which he starred alongside Sidney Poitier.  Altogether, Steiger appeared in more than 100 films throughout his career, including a portrayal of Napoleon Bonaparte in Waterloo (1970), & as Mussolini in The Last Four Days (1974). He also appeared in such movies as The Harder They Fall (1956), Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), The Amityville Horror (1979) & End of Days (1999). In 1969 he appeared with his then-wife, the British actress Claire Bloom, in two films; Three Into Two Won't Go  & the adaption of Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man.

Married five times & with three children, Rod Steiger died in Los Angeles on 9th July 2002, at the age of 77. He is buried in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 7080 Hollywood Boulevard.

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Jodi Picoult

Author Jodi Picoult was born in Nesconset, in the town of Smithtown, Suffolk County in May 1966. At the age of thirteen she moved with her family to New Hampshire. After graduating from Princeton University in 1987, where she studied creative writing, she had several different jobs, such as technical writer for a Wall Street brokerage firm, copywriter for an advertising agency, publisher’s editor & teacher, before going to Harvard to study for a Master’s degree in education. In 1989 she married Timothy van Leer; they now have three children. She has since received honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from Dartmouth College in 2010 & from the University of New Haven in 2012.

Picoult’s had two short stories published in Seventeen magazine whilst she was still at college. Her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale, appeared in 1992. Novels have appeared on almost a yearly basis ever since, such as Picture Perfect (1995), The Pact (1998), Plain Truth (2000), My Sisters Keeper (2004), The Tenth Circle (2006), Lone Wolf (2012) & The Storyteller (2013). Her 2007 novel Nineteen Minutes debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list; a feat that has been repeated by every subsequent novel. Also during 2007, Picoult wrote five issues of the Wonder Woman series for DC Comics.  In 2012 Picoult brought out Between the Lines; a novel for teens/young adults co-written with her daughter Samantha van Leer.

Her novels have now been translated into 34 languages &, as at 2013, her books have sold more than 14 million copies worldwide.

In 2003 she was awarded the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction. Amongst many other awards, she has also received a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, & Cosmopolitan magazine’s ‘Fearless Fiction’ Award for 2007. In the UK, she has received the Waterstone’s Author of the Year award.

Four of Picoults books have been adapted into television movies: The Pact (2002), Plain Truth (2004),The Tenth Circle (2008) & Salem Falls (2011). The feature film of her novel My Sisters Keeper, starring Cameron Diaz, was a cinema release in 2009.

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Mariah Carey

Singer, songwriter & actress Mariah Carey was born in Huntington, Suffolk County  in March 1970. Her music spans the pop, soul, R&B & hip hop genres, & she is now one of the best-selling female artists of all time.

She began writing songs at an early age & attended Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, Suffolk County, where she excelled in music. Her main influences while she was growing up were R&B, soul & gospel.  At high school she formed songwriting partnerships firstly with Gavin Christopher, & later with Ben Margulies.

After leaving high school, Carey moved to Manhattan, where she had several waitressing jobs, whilst still working on her music with Margulies. They recorded a four song demo tape which they presented to various record labels, only to be rejected on each occasion. Eventually, the demo tape was offered to Tommy Mottola, head of Columbia Records, who was taken with the sound & quality of Mariahs voice & signed her to his label. Her debut album Mariah Carey was released in June 1990. The album yielded four hit singles including Vision of Love & Love Takes Time. All four were chart-toppers in the US & were hits in many other countries around the world.  Vision of Love won Mariah the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category at the 33rd annual Grammy Awards in 1991, where she also scooped the award in the Best New Artist category. The album went multi-platinum, & was the best selling album of 1991, selling over 15 million copies in the US alone.

Further albums followed: Emotions (1991), Music Box (1993), Merry Christmas (1994) & Daydream (1995).  During the making of her third album, Music Box in 1993, Carey married Tony Mottola, 21 years her senior. The marriage lasted five years. As well as the studio albums, 1992 saw the release of the live MTV Unplugged album. Hit singles during this period included Dreamlover & Hero (both 1993) & Fantasy (1995).

Although she suffered from stage fright, Carey agreed to do her a short tour of America after the release of Music Box; her first such venture. Although only spanning six shows, the tour was deemed a great success. Also at this time her cover version of Badfingers Without You became her first number one single in the United Kingdom. The second single from 1995’s Daydream album, One Sweet Day, a duet with Boyz II Men, spent a record sixteen weeks at the  top of the Billboard Hot 100, making it the longest running number one song in US chart history. This helped to boost sales of the album to more than 30 million, & made it her biggest selling album in the US. The seven date Daydream World Tour, taking in venues in Europe & Japan, also helped boost album sales in these territories. In the wake of this success, Carey was awarded Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist & Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist at the American Music Awards.

After the breakdown of her marriage to Mottola, Mariah recorded two further albums for Columbia; Butterfly (1997) & Rainbow (1999). In 1998 the compilation album #1’s also appeared. This featured the song When You Believe, a duet with Whitney Houston.

Carey’s first album after signing with Virgin Records, was Glitter in 2001; a soundtrack album to the film of the same name that she had been working on since 1998. After signing with Island Records in 2002, further albums followed; Charmbracelet (2002), The Emancipation of Mimi (2005), E=MC² (2008) & Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009).  In 2010 the album Merry Christmas II You appeared; a sequel to the Merry Christmas album of 1994. May 2012 saw the release of the compilation album The Essential Mariah Carey.

Hit singles continued alongside the albums, such as Honey (1997), Heartbreaker (1999) & We Belong Together (2005). In 2008 the Touch My Body single, from the E=MC² album became Carey
s eighteenth number one, making her the solo artist with the most number one singles in US history.

Mariah Carey’s film debut came in 1999 with a part in The Bachelor. Her first starring role was in Glitter in 2001, although this received negative reviews & was a commercial failure. She has also had roles in such films as Wise Girls (2002), State Property 2 (2005) & Precious (2009). The latter, in which she plays a social worker named Ms. Weiss & stars alongside Gabourey Sidibe, Mo
Nique & Paula Patton, is based on the novel Push by Sapphire. Directed by Lee Daniels, the movie received much acclaim from film critics, & was nominated for many awards, including several at the 82nd Academy Awards.  Carey won the Breakthrough Actress Performance Award for her role in the film at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.  

In 2002 Carey  appeared in an episode of the hit TV comedy series Ally McBeal, & also recorded a voice-over for the American animated television series The Proud Family in 2003, in which she appears as herself.

In April 2008, Mariah married actor/comedian Nick Cannon. In April 2011, on the couple’s third wedding anniversary, Mariah gave birth to twins.

Vocally, Carey possesses a five-octave vocal range with the ability to reach notes beyond the 7th & 8th octave. She describes her voice as alto, although many regard her as a soprano. In 2003 she was ranked first in MTV and Blender magazine’s 22 Greatest Voices in Music. In the same year she also received the Chopard Diamond Award, in recognition of sales of more than 100 million albums worldwide.

Mariah Carey has, over the years, donated to & supported a number of causes & charities. These include the Fresh Air Fund, the Make-A-Wish Foundation & the Save the Music Foundation.  In 2005 she performed at London’s Live 8 concert & at the Hurricane Katrina relief telethon. In 2008 she appeared, with others, on the Just Stand Up single for the Stand Up To Cancer charity. Also in 2008 she was named Hunger Ambassador of the World Hunger Relief Movement.

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