Long Island Towns – Huntington, NY

Huntington - Long Island

Before packing up your bags, selling your home, and moving to Huntington New York, it is wise to learn about the new town you will be transferring to. Whether that learning comes by reading or by visiting, I guarantee you will come away with an appreciation and fascination of the town’s history, monuments, and highlights. A town comes to life even more when you open eyes to what has already passed.

Visiting a town or learning about the town’s history enables you to better understand how the buildings, way of life, and landscapes came to be. In your mind, stories begin to fit together like puzzle pieces. You can stand in front of a monument and know why they built it and what it stands for. Have a look at the historical and modern day town of Huntington, New York! May these facts add to your knowledge of Huntington and help you make that decision of whether to visit or move to this town.

Location of Huntington

The town of Huntington is part of Suffolk County in New York. It is part of the New York metropolitan area. You will find Huntington on the north shore of Long Island, in the northwestern part of Suffolk County. The town is 40 miles from Manhattan and 40 miles from Riverhead.

Five harbors surround the north shore of Huntington: Cold Spring Harbor, Lloyd Harbor, Huntington, Centerport, and Northport. Huntington encompasses 93 square miles approximately. Its population estimate is 203,264 according to the 2010 census.

Northport, Asharoken, Lloyd Harbor, and Huntington Bay are Huntington’s four villages. The following are the hamlets of Huntington: Centerport, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Dix Hills, East Northport, Eatons Neck, Wincoma, Fort Salonga, Greenlawn, Halesite, Huntington Station, Melville, South Huntington, Vernon Valley, West Hills, and Elwood. At one time, people considered Elwood “The Heart of Huntington.”

The Founding of Huntington

Before the settling of Huntington, the town’s original residents were Matinecock Indians. They lived near the waterfront. European explorers and traders would arrive and settle Huntington in 1653. Three English settlers – Richard Holbrook, Robert Williams, and Daniel Whitehead – secured six square miles of land from the Matinecock Indians’ chief. In 1656, the three obtained more land for the Europeans in what became known as the Eastern Purchase.

These early settlers established their homes around Huntington Harbor and Village Green. It is believed that they named Huntington after the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, who, at the time, was the Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland. As a matter of fact, the majority of Huntington’s population were English settlers. In 1660, the town voted to leave the authority of the New Amsterdam colony to become part of the Connecticut colony and gain protection from the Dutch. In 1664, Huntington came under the authority of New York when the British took control of New Amsterdam and renamed it New York.

Huntington became an established community that consisted of farms, a schoolhouse, a church, flour mills, saw mills, a fort, and more. A major part of the economy was shipping goods to and from other ports on the island. Some ships traveled all the way to the West Indies.

Huntington and the American Revolution

At the end of the eighteenth century, Huntington resented English authority along with the rest of New England’s colonies. The town’s people created a document known as the “Declaration of Rights” to affirm their property rights and their stance against taxation without representation. This document also called for unity among the colonies in refusing to do business with Great Britain.

A month after the news of the Declaration of Independence reached Huntington, the Battle of Long Island left the people of Huntington defeated . The army, led by George Washington, fled to Manhattan while the British took control of the island. The British established a fort called Fort Slongo, later to be known as Fort Salonga.

Nathan Hale, the well-known American spy, began gathering information in Huntington Bay about the British army. They would capture and hang him in New York City. Halesite, one of the hamlets, is actually named after Nathan Hale. The British army used the island as a supply depot, set up headquarters in Huntington, and used the food, lodging, and labor that they demanded from the town’s people. The town was rebuilt once they defeated the British and established their independence.

Nineteenth Century Huntington

It was during the nineteenth century that Huntington’s economy boomed. Many industries grew. Mills to grind grain sprang up. They opened lumber yards and brick yards. The first tide mills – mills powered by the town’s small streams – were built on the west shore of Huntington Harbor, Centerport, and Lloyd Harbor.

The largest industry was brick making. The Irish came to Huntington in the 1850s to gather the town’s clay and work in the brickyards. Possibly the second largest industry was sand mining. Sand was dug along the shores of Eaton’s Neck, Asharoken, and Northport. They shipped it to New York City to make the concrete foundations for the skyscrapers that form the famous skyline. They also harvested oysters, clams, and lobsters. In fact, commercial fishing is Huntington’s oldest industry!

During this time, Walt Whitman, the famous poet born in South Huntington, founded the newspaper The Long-Islander, which is still in print today. When the railroad came in 1867, the economy transformed from agriculture and shipping to tourism and commuting. Markets became more accessible. In general, the people of New York City could easily reach the town of Huntington by rail. Greenlawn and East Northport came about because of the railroad.

These new settlements along the railroad’s track soon became established villages . New York’s wealthy folk built homes in Huntington to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Resort hotels and cottages took over the shores, making Huntington a popular summer get-away location.

Twentieth Century Huntington

Many important structures were built at this time: the library, Town Hall, schoolhouse, firehouse, Palace Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Huntington Office Building, Huntington Mortgage Building, and the Hotel Huntington. In 1908, William K. Vanderbilt built the first roadway after the advent of the automobile. Not only did it provide even more access to the island, but it also served as a racetrack for the Vanderbilt Cup races.

Part of the road travelled through Dix Hills, causing more growth and building in that area. Huntington made a transformation from a small town of farms and resorts to a bustling suburban of large homes following World War II. Within 20 years, Huntington’s population grew to more than 150,000. There was obviously a need for new schools, parks, beaches, and other places of recreation. The town established these after the second World War. Many quiet farming areas became commercial centers, including Melville.

Sightseeing in Huntington

The top places that everyone recommends seeing when you visit Huntington are the Vanderbilt Museum, Heckscher Park, Heckscher Museum of Art, and Cold Spring Harbor State Park.

Within the Vanderbilt Museum, you will find the staff wearing costumes. They will guide you through the home and estate on a “living tour.” Take note that these performances take place only once a week. You may want to gather some information on dates and times before showing up and waiting for the tour to begin.

Heckscher Park hosts art festivals, tulip festivals, concerts, and fairs, as well as the Huntington Summer Arts Festival. Within the park is the Heckscher Museum of Art. This art museum was established in the year 1920 when 185 works were donated by August Heckscher. Today, the museum holds over 2,500 pieces of art created by Americans and Europeans. Its collection spans 500 years and focuses mainly on art from the nineteenth century through the twenty-first century.

The terrain of the Cold Spring Harbor Park is perfect for cross country skiing and hiking. If you enjoy bird-watching, keep your eyes peeled for great horned owls and red-tailed hawks! The Oheka Castle, also known as the Otto Kahn Estate, offers mansion tours of the estate and gardens. These tours are a fantastic item to add to your itinerary. Be aware that a reservation is necessary. The Oheka Castle was the country home of Otto Kahn, a financier and philanthropist. He had it built between 1914 and 1919. With its 127 rooms and more than 109,000 square feet, the mansion is the second largest private home in the United States.

You may wish to visit the oldest building in Commack. The oldest Methodist Church building in the state of New York was built in 1789 and is situated in Commack.

Huntington’s Eateries

You can’t visit a town without trying their food. That’s just a rule. If you are inclined toward fancy food, check out Prime Restaurant for some sushi by the shore. They have gluten-free dishes and vegetarian-friendly options as well.

Oheka Bar and Restaurant is another great choice that serves their delectable crab cakes. Jonathan’s Ristorante, or Red Restaurant and Bar are other wonderful options.

If you’re hoping for more affordable eats, Little Vincent’s Pizza and the Roast Sandwich House are two of the most popular.

You can find Mediterranean cuisine available at the Tasty American Coocoo and the Mazzar Grill. The Copenhagen Bakery and Village Creperie Cafe have delicious desserts to enjoy, if you’re not already full of Huntington’s finest foods.

Living in Huntington

Huntington has an abundance of recreation available to residents! There are nine beaches and three marinas for residents’ use. There are golf courses, numerous park sites, boat ramps, and more to enjoy.

When it comes to schooling, there are eight public school districts. Five are in Huntington. The remaining schools serve not only Huntington, but also parts of Smithtown, Babylon, and Oyster Bay.

It is super easy to commute from New York City to the town of Huntington, thanks to all the available means of transportation.

There are several 4-star hotels in the expansive business district within Melville. The Huntington Hilton and the Melville Mariott are a quick trip from the Long Island Expressway. These hotels provide various facilities for Melville’s surrounding businesses.

All of Huntington’s business districts attract large amounts of visitors. Within Huntington are the Fine Arts Museum, concert venues, galleries, cinemas, and restaurants. Because of these popular, cultural stops, Huntington has been given the name “The Little Apple.”

In conclusion, Huntington is a bustling town with lots of energy, places to see, and things to do. If you move to Huntington, there will be plenty of recreation available to you – the hiking, golfing, cross country skiing in the winter, and especially, swimming at the beach in summer. New York City and Huntington have easy access to each other. This makes it simple to work in the city and live in Huntington. When you choose to visit Huntington, make sure to check out these historical stops and tasty restaurants. They will not disappoint!

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