Planet Suffolk: Bringing together the Suffolks of the world

New Suffolk, Suffolk County, New York, USA

New Suffolk is a census designated place in the town of Southold in the eastern part of Suffolk County, New York. It is located at 40° 59’ 34” N 72° 28’ 31” W.  It is approximately 12 miles east of Riverhead.

Population:-  The population of New Suffolk in 2020 was 250.

How to get there:-

By Road: New Suffolk can be reached by taking State Highway 25 from New York City, then turning off onto New Suffolk Avenue at Mattituck. Alternately, take Interstate Highway 495 to the junction with State Highway 25 near Calverton.

By Rail: The Ronkonkoma Branch of the MTA Long Island Rail Road passes New Suffolk, before terminating at Greenport. The nearest station is at Mattituck, approximately 3 miles from New Suffolk.

The nearest major airports are LaGuardia International, New York & John F Kennedy International, New York, both of which are around 80 miles away by road.

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


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History & Derivation of Name

New Suffolk Clam Chowder 


History & Derivation of Name

English Puritans from New Haven Colony in Connecticut settled in Southold in October 1640.  Among these first settlers was John Tuthill one of whose descendants would be instrumental in the establishment of New Suffolk.  Within a generation the settlers had spread west towards the present day Cutchogue.  The name Cutchogue is derived from an Algonquin word meaning “principal place”, and the native inhabitants were known as the Corchaugs.  In 1640 and 1649 the Europeans purchased the land from the Native Americans.  Almost nothing is known about the Corchaugs today.  Only a few of their names survive.  Most of the Corchaugs died of diseases contracted from the settlers, and those Native Americans that survived became the property of the settlers.

Cutchogue surrounds New Suffolk, and it was not until 1661 that the settlers laid out lots in the area known today as New Suffolk.  Much of the land was isolated from the rest of Southold by wetlands on three sides, and the eastern aspect faced Peconic Bay and Robin’s Island.  John Booth was the first owner of much of this land, which was then called Booth’s Neck, and he is first recorded in Southold in 1654.  In 1685 he held 6 acres here.  After John Booth sold his lands at the end of the 17th century, the name was changed to Robin’s Island Neck.  Raising livestock was the primary activity, but the hamlet was in an ideal position for shipping and fishing.  As the 18th century progressed, these activities assumed a greater importance, and by 1800 it had become a busy port for commercial and recreational use.

About 1830 a local farmer named Ira Tuthill, along with three colleagues, bought and operated a sailing ship that ran a service between New York City and the harbour at Robin’s Island Neck.  As the Long Island Railroad was not built until 1844, travelling by sea was the safest and fastest means of transportation available at the time.  In 1836 Ira Tuthill and colleagues laid out the grid pattern for residential lots that still defines the central area of New Suffolk.  Finally, on 3rd April 1838, Ira Tuthill bought out his colleagues and obtained recognition from the New York State court to make Robin’s Island Neck a separate entity under the name of New Suffolk.  He stated that it was named after the old county in England, not the county of New York.

Throughout the 19th century the main businesses of New Suffolk were fishing, shipping and shipbuilding.  In 1857 scallop beds were discovered in Peconic Bay, and scallop and oyster fishing soon became the mainstay of the industry.  The construction of whaling ships was the particular line for shipbuilders, and as the whaling industry declined their skills would be put to a different use at the end of the century.  Tourism began with the construction in 1840 of the village’s first tourist hotel by Ira Tuthill.  Vacationers could travel from New York City by steamship, stay in New Suffolk and then explore the historic places of Long Island.  By the end of the 19th century, New Suffolk boasted several tourist hotels and guest houses.  Stately homes, many still in use, began to appear in the last years of that century.  In 1897 the John P. Holland Torpedo Boat Co. established a base in New Suffolk, and in 1899 it opened its plant for testing submarines in the basin of Peconic Bay.  The first submarine accepted by the US Navy (USS Holland VI) was launched here, and New Suffolk became the first submarine base for the US Navy in 1900.  It continued these operations until 1905 when the US Navy moved its base to Groton, Connecticut.   

The 20th century saw a steady decline in the traditional industries.  Shipbuilding of commercial vessels soon gave way to the larger yards elsewhere.  Fishing continued as the main occupation into the 1960s, but the oyster
and scallop beds were depleted by the 1980s.  The last oyster house was destroyed by fire in 1981.  Tourism also suffered as vacationers sought other parts of Long Island for recreation.  At the heart of New Suffolk is a waterfront historically occupied by docks, oyster houses and a boatyard.  After the last Tuthill owner sold the property in 1960 the shipyard/marina uses continued, but drastic changes threatened in 1983.  That year saw the first of four major expansion attempts by private developers to enlarge the marina, build condominiums and expand the boatyard facilities.  However, all of these ventures had to be abandoned because of the opposition of the local community.  In 2005, the community established the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund to purchase the property in order to preserve it for their benefit.  The land was purchased in 2007, and now the Waterfront Fund and the community of New Suffolk are to develop the property in a way that recognises its maritime heritage and preserves the beauty of the area. 

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New Suffolk Clam Chowder

In North America “Chowder” is a generic name for a wide variety of seafood or vegetable stews and thickened soups, often with milk or cream.  The origin of the term is obscure.  One possible source is French chaudière, the type of pot in which the first chowders were probably cooked, possibly derived from when Breton fisherman would throw portions of the day’s catch into a large pot, along with other available foods.  It is believed that clams were added to chowder because of their relative ease to collect.

There are several regional varieties of chowder. New England Clam Chowder is perhaps the best known, typically made with chopped clams, diced potatoes, onion, bacon or salt pork, and flour or hardtack in a mixed cream and milk base, often with a small amount of butter.  This variety has been around since the mid-18th century.  Clam chowder is often served in restaurants on Fridays in order to provide a seafood option for those who abstain from meat on that day, which used to be a requirement for Catholics.

Other common chowders include the Manhattan Clam Chowder, which substitutes tomatoes for the milk and cream, and typically omits potatoes.  This gives it the typical red colour.  The addition of tomatoes in place of milk was initially the work of Portuguese immigrants in Rhode Island in the 1890s, as tomato-based stews were already a traditional part of Portuguese cuisine.  Scornful New Englanders called this modified version “Manhattan-style” clam chowder; no written record of Manhattan Clam Chowder has been found that predates the 1930s, and adding tomatoes to clam chowder was considered so horrendous that a 1939 bill making tomatoes in clam chowder illegal was introduced in the Maine legislature, but failed to pass.

A recent introduction since 2000 has been the New Suffolk Clam Chowder found around that locality on Long Island.  This is made on the Manhattan model, tomato based, but with the addition of crab-meat and a bit of spice.

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