Long Island

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This article is about the island in New York State. For other uses, see Long Island (disambiguation).
Long Island
Native name: Paumanok[1]
Long Island Landsat Mosaic.jpg
Satellite image of Long Island and New York City
Long Island is located in New York
Long Island
Long Island (New York state)
Geography
Location Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates 40°48′N 73°18′W / 40.8°N 73.3°W / 40.8; -73.3
Area 1,401 sq mi (3,630 km2)
Length 118 mi (190 km)
Width 23 mi (37 km)
Highest point Jayne's Hill
401 ft (122 m)
Country
United States
State  New York
Demographics
Population 7,686,912 (as of 2012)
Density 5,402.1 /sq mi (2,085.76 /km2)
Ethnic groups 54.7% White, 20.4% African American, 0.49% Native American, 12.3% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 8.8% other races, and 3.2% from two or more races; 20.5% Hispanic or Latino of any race

Long Island is an island in the U.S. state of New York. Stretching northeast from New York Harbor into the Atlantic Ocean, the island comprises four counties, including two (Kings and Queens) that form the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, and two (Nassau and Suffolk) that are farther out on the island and mainly suburban. Although all four counties are part of the greater New York metropolitan area,[2] the name "Long Island" is often reserved in popular usage for only Nassau and Suffolk counties, as distinct from those lying within New York City proper. North of the island is Long Island Sound, across which are the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island.

With a Census-estimated population of 7,740,208 in 2013,[3][4][5][6] Long Island is the most populated island in any U.S. state or territory, and the 17th-most populous island in the world (ahead of Ireland, Jamaica, and Hokkaidō). Its population density is 5,402 inhabitants per square mile (2,086 /km2). If it were a U.S. state, Long Island would rank 13th in population (after Virginia) and first in population density.

Both the longest[7] and the largest island in the contiguous United States, Long Island extends 118 miles (190 km) eastward from New York Harbor to Montauk Point, and has a maximum north-to-south expanse of 23 miles (37 km) between the northern Long Island Sound coast and the southern Atlantic coast.[8] With a land area of 1,401 square miles (3,629 km2), Long Island is the 11th-largest island in the United States and the 148th-largest island in the world — larger than the 1,214 square miles (3,140 km2) of the smallest state, Rhode Island.[9]

Two of New York City's major airports, LaGuardia Airport and JFK International Airport, are located on Long Island, in Queens. Nine bridges and 13 tunnels (including railroad tunnels) connect Brooklyn and Queens (and thus Long Island) to the three other boroughs of New York City. Ferries connect Suffolk County northward across Long Island Sound to the state of Connecticut.

History[edit]

Early History[edit]

Long Island Native American settlements, and their neighbors

At the time of European contact, the Lenape people (named the Delaware by Europeans) inhabited the western end of Long Island, and spoke the Munsee dialect of Lenape, one of the Algonquian language family. Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European to record an encounter with these people, after entering what is now New York Bay in 1524. The eastern portion of the island was inhabited by speakers of the Mohegan-Montauk-Narragansett language group of Algonquian languages; they were part of the Pequot and Narrangansett peoples inhabiting what is now Connecticut and Rhode Island.

In 1609, the English navigator Henry Hudson explored the harbor and purportedly landed at Coney Island. Adriaen Block followed in 1615 and is credited as the first European to determine that both Manhattan and Long Island are islands.

Indian land deeds recorded by the Dutch from 1636 state that the Indians referred to Long Island as Sewanhaka (Sewanhacky and Sewanhacking were other spellings in the transliteration of Lenape).[10] Sewan was one of the terms for wampum (commemorative stringed shell beads, for a while also used as currency by colonists in trades with the Lenape), and is also translated as "loose" or "scattered", which may refer either to the wampum or to Long Island.[10] The name " 't Lange Eylandt alias Matouwacs" (later shortened to "Lange Eylandt") appears in Dutch maps from the 1650s.[11][12] Later, the English referred to the land as "Nassau Island",[13] after the Dutch Prince William of Nassau, Prince of Orange (who later also ruled as King William III of England). It is unclear when the name "Nassau Island" was discontinued.

The c. 1806 Old Hook Mill in East Hampton is one of eleven extant windmills in Suffolk County

The very first settlements on Long Island were by settlers from England and its colonies in present-day New England. Lion Gardener settled nearby Gardiners Island in 1637. The first settlement on the geographic Long Island itself was on October 21, 1640, when Southold was established by settlers from New Haven, Connecticut. Southampton was settled in the same year. Hempstead followed in 1644, East Hampton in 1648, Huntington in 1653, and Brookhaven in 1655.

The Old House in Cutchogue, built 1649, is the oldest English-style house in New York State

While the eastern region of Long Island was first settled by English, the western portion of Long Island was settled by the Dutch. Until 1664, the jurisdiction of Long Island was split, roughly at the present border between Nassau County and Suffolk County. The Dutch founded six towns in present-day Brooklyn beginning in 1645. These included: Brooklyn, Gravesend, Flatlands, Flatbush, New Utrecht, and Bushwick. The Dutch had granted an English settlement in Hempstead, New York (now in Nassau county) in 1644 but, after a boundary dispute, drove out English settlers from the Oyster Bay area. In 1664, the English took over the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, including all their lands on Long Island, and controlled the 120-mile expanse (except for all the territories inhabited by indigenous peoples.)

The 1664 land patent granted to the Duke of York included all islands in Long Island Sound. The Duke of York held a grudge against Connecticut, as New Haven had hidden three of the judges who sentenced the Duke's father, King Charles I, to death in 1649. Settlers throughout Suffolk County pressed to stay part of Connecticut, but Governor Sir Edmund Andros threatened to eliminate the settlers' rights to land if they did not yield, which they did by 1676.[14]

All of Long Island (as well as the islands between it and Connecticut) became part of the Province of New York within the Shire of York. Present-day Suffolk County was designated as the East Riding (of Yorkshire), present-day Brooklyn was part of the West Riding, and present-day Queens and Nassau were part of the larger North Riding. In 1683, Yorkshire was dissolved and the three original counties on Long Island were established: Kings, Queens, and Suffolk.

1700s and 1800s[edit]

Early in the American Revolutionary War, the island was captured by the British from General George Washington in the Battle of Long Island, a decisive battle after which Washington narrowly evacuated his troops from Brooklyn Heights under a dense fog. After the British victory on Long Island, many Patriots fled, leaving mostly Loyalists behind. The island remained a British stronghold until the end of the war in 1783.

General Washington based his espionage activities on Long Island, due to the western part of the island's proximity to the British military headquarters in New York City. The Culper Spy Ring included agents operating between Setauket and Manhattan. This ring alerted Washington to valuable British secrets, including the treason of Benedict Arnold and a plan to use counterfeiting to induce economic sabotage.

Long Island's colonists served both Loyalist and Patriot causes, with many prominent families divided among both sides. During the occupation British troops repurposed a number of civilian structures for defense and demanded to be quartered in the homes of civilians. A number of structures from this era remain. Among these are Raynham Hall, the Oyster Bay home of patriot spy Robert Townsend, and the Caroline Church in Setauket, which contains bullet holes from a skirmish known as the Battle of Setauket. Also in existence is a reconstruction of Brooklyn's Old Stone House, on the site of the Maryland 400's celebrated last stand during the Battle of Long Island.

The Brooklyn Bridge, the first of seven bridges constructed across the East River, connects Long Island with the Borough of Manhattan (in background).

In the 19th century, Long Island was still mainly rural and devoted to agriculture. The predecessor to the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) began service in 1836 from the South Ferry, Brooklyn, through Brooklyn to Jamaica in Queens. The line was completed to the east end of Long Island in 1844 (as part of a plan for transportation to Boston). Competing railroads (soon absorbed by the LIRR) were built along the south shore to accommodate travellers from those more populated areas. For the century from 1830 until 1930, total population roughly doubled every twenty years, with more dense development in areas near Manhattan. Several cities were incorporated, such as the City of Brooklyn in Kings County, and Long Island City in Queens.

Oheka Castle, a Gold Coast estate that is the second largest private residence in the USA

Until the 1883 completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, the only connection between Long Island and the rest of the United States was by boat and ship. As other bridges and tunnels were constructed, areas of the island began to be developed as residential suburbs, first around the railroads that offered commuting into the city. On January 1, 1898, Kings County and portions of Queens were consolidated into The City of Greater New York, abolishing all cities and towns within them. The easternmost 280 square miles (730 km2) of Queens County, which were not part of the consolidation plan,[15][16][17][18][19][20] separated from Queens in 1899 to form Nassau County.

At the close of the 19th century, wealthy industrialists who made vast fortunes during the Gilded Age began to construct large "baronial" country estates in Nassau County communities along the North Shore of Long Island, favoring the many lots with water views. Proximity to Manhattan attracted such men as J. P Morgan, William K Vanderbilt, and Charles Pratt, whose estates led to this area being nicknamed the Gold Coast. This period and the area was immortalized in fiction, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (which has also been adapted in films.)

Modern Era[edit]

Charles Lindbergh lifted off from Roosevelt Field with his Spirit of Saint Louis for his historic solo flight to Europe. From the 1920s to the 1940s, Long Island began the transformation from backwoods and farms as developers created numerous suburbs. Numerous branches of the LIRR already enabled commuting from the suburbs to the city. Robert Moses engineered various automobile parkway projects to span the island, and developed beaches and state parks for the enjoyment of residents and visitors from the city. Gradually, development also followed these parkways, with various communities springing up along the more traveled routes.

A typical house in a post-war middle class suburban development

After World War II, suburban development increased with incentives under the GI Bill, and Long Island's population skyrocketed, mostly in Nassau County and western Suffolk County. Second and third-generation children of immigrants moved out to Long Island to settle in new housing developments built during the post-war boom. Levittown became noted as a suburb, where house construction was simplified to be produced on a large scale. These provided opportunities for GIs returning home to buy houses and start a family.

The descendants of late 19th and early 20th-century immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, and black migrants from the South, have been followed by more recent ones from Latin America. These have created a diversity on Long Island lacked in other American regions. The population has many ethnic Irish, Jews and Italians, as well as an increasing number of Asians and Hispanics reflecting later migrations.

In 1985, the United States Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Maine that Long Island was not an island for legal purposes.[21][22][23]

By the start of the 21st century a number of Long Island communities had successfully repurposed their assets from industrial uses to post-industrial roles. Brooklyn reversed decades of population decline and factory closings to resurface as a globally renowned cultural and intellectual hotbed. Gentrification has affected much of Brooklyn and a portion of Queens, relocating a sizeable swath of New York City's population. On eastern Long Island, such villages as Port Jefferson, Patchogue, and Riverhead have been repurposed from inactive shipbuilding and mill towns into tourist-centric commercial centers with cultural attractions.

Geography[edit]

Overview[edit]

Montauk Point is at Long Island's rural eastern tip

The westernmost end of Long Island contains the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn (Kings County) and Queens (Queens County). The central and eastern portions contain the suburban Nassau and Suffolk counties. However, colloquial usage of the term "Long Island" usually refers only to Nassau and Suffolk counties. For example, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Long Island District is separate from that of New York City.[24] The more dense and urban Brooklyn and Queens are not usually referred to as "Long Island", since they are a part of New York City, although before those counties amalgamated into the city, they were often so identified; at least as late as 1911, locations in Queens were still commonly referred to as being on Long Island.[25] Some institutions in the New York City section of the island use the island's names, like Long Island University and Long Island Jewish Medical Center. The New York Islanders National Hockey League team intends to retain its name after their move from Nassau County to Brooklyn in 2015.

The four sections of Long Island include two independent counties (Nassau and Suffolk) and two New York City boroughs (Brooklyn and Queens)

Nassau County is more developed than Suffolk County, and has pockets of rural affluence within the Gold Coast of the North Shore and the Five Towns area on the South Shore. South Shore communities are built along protected wetlands of the island and contain white sandy beaches of Outer Barrier Islands fronting on the Atlantic Ocean. Dutch and English settlers from the time before the American Revolutionary War, as well as communities of Native Americans, populated the island. The 19th century saw the infusion of the wealthiest Americans in the so-called Gold Coast of the North Shore, where wealthy Americans and Europeans in the Gilded Age built lavish country homes. Today, although many of the massive estates have been demolished, many others remain their original state or have become parks, arboretums, universities and museums.[citation needed]

A portion of the Downtown Brooklyn skyline, on Long Island's western end

Owing to economic growth and the suburbanization after World War II, Nassau was the fastest growing county in the United States from the 1950s to the 1970s.[citation needed] Suffolk County remains less congested, despite substantial growth in the high technology and light manufacturing sectors since 1990, although traffic has been increasing in recent years.[citation needed] In its easternmost sections, Suffolk remains small-town rural, as in Greenport on the North Fork and some of the outward areas of The Hamptons, although summer tourism swells the population in those areas. Western Suffolk, such as the towns of Huntington and Babylon, are becoming increasingly populated and are beginning to resemble towns in Nassau.[citation needed]

According to the US Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey, Nassau and Suffolk counties have the 10th and 26th highest median household incomes in the nation, respectively.[26] Additionally, Nassau County is the third-richest county per capita in New York State and the 30th richest in the nation, and it has the second-highest property taxes in the United States.[27] Suffolk County has redeveloped North Fork potato fields into a burgeoning wine region.[citation needed] The South Fork is known for beach communities, including the world-renowned Hamptons, and for Montauk Point Lighthouse at the eastern tip of the island.

Geology[edit]

The intersection of Long Island, Manhattan, and the continental mainland

Long Island, as part of the Outer Lands region, is formed largely of two spines of glacial moraine, with a large, sandy outwash plain beyond. These moraines consist of gravel and loose rock left behind during the two most recent pulses of Wisconsin glaciation during the Ice Ages some 21,000 years ago (19,000 BC). The northern moraine, which directly abuts the North Shore of Long Island at points, is known as the Harbor Hill moraine. The more southerly moraine, known as the Ronkonkoma moraine, forms the "backbone" of Long Island; it runs primarily through the very center of Long Island, roughly coinciding with the length of the Long Island Expressway.

The bluffs of the North Shore

The land to the south of this moraine to the South Shore is the outwash plain of the last glacier. One part of the outwash plain was known as the Hempstead Plains, and this land contained one of the few natural prairies to exist east of the Appalachian Mountains.[28]

The glaciers melted and receded to the north, resulting in the difference between the North Shore beaches and the South Shore beaches. The North Shore beaches are rocky from the remaining glacial debris, while the South Shore's are crisp, clear, outwash sand. Jayne's Hill, at 401 feet (122 m), within Suffolk County near its border with Nassau County, is the highest hill along either moraine; another well-known summit is Bald Hill in Brookhaven Town, not far from its geographical center at Middle Island. The glaciers also formed Lake Ronkonkoma in Suffolk County and Lake Success in Nassau County, each a deep kettle lake.

Climate[edit]

Long Island has a climate similar to that of other coastal areas of the Northeastern United States; it has warm, humid summers and cool, wet winters. Under the Köppen climate classification, Long Island lies in a transition zone between a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) and a humid continental climate (Dfa).[29] The Atlantic Ocean helps bring afternoon sea breezes that temper the heat in the warmer months and limit the frequency and severity of thunderstorms. Long Island has a moderately sunny climate, averaging between 2,400 and 2,800 hours of sunshine annually.[30]

Cumulus congestus clouds over Long Island on a summer afternoon

Due to its coastal location, Long Island temperatures are somewhat mild compared to the rest of New York state. The coldest month is January, when average temperatures range from 30 to 35 °F (−1 to 2 °C), and the warmest month is July, when average temperatures range from 70 to 80 °F (21 to 27 °C).[31] Temperatures seldom fall below 5 °F (−15 °C) or rise above 95 °F (35 °C). Long Island temperatures vary from west to east, with the western part (Nassau County, Queens, and Brooklyn) generally warmer than the east (Suffolk County). This is due to two factors: the western part is closer to the mainland and more densely developed, causing the "urban heat island" effect. The eastern part is cooler on most occasions due to moderation of the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound, and its being less developed. On dry nights with no clouds or wind, the Pine Barrens in eastern Suffolk County can be almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius) cooler than the rest of the island due to radiational cooling.

Stripped boardwalk in Rockaway Beach after Hurricane Sandy in 2012

Precipitation is distributed fairly uniformly throughout the year, with approximately 3–4 inches (76–102 mm) on average during each month. Average yearly snowfall totals range from approximately 20 to 35 inches (51 to 89 cm), with the north shore and western parts averaging more than the south shore and the east end. In any given winter, however, some parts of thex island could see up to 75 inches (190 cm) of snow or more. There are also some very quiet winters, in which most parts of the island could see less than 10 inches (25 cm) of snow.

Long Island is somewhat vulnerable to hurricanes.[32] Its northern location and relatively cool waters tend to weaken storms to below hurricane strength by the time they reach Long Island; nonetheless, some storms have made landfall at Category 1 or greater strength, including two unnamed Category 3 storms: the 1938 New England Hurricane (also known as the Long Island Express) and another in 1944. Named hurricanes that crossed Long Island include Hurricane Donna in 1960, Hurricane Camille in 1969, Hurricane Belle in 1976, Hurricane Gloria in 1985, Hurricane Bob in 1991 (brushed the eastern tip) and Hurricane Floyd in 1999. (There is debate among climatologists as to whether Hurricane Floyd made landfall as a Category 1 or as a very strong "almost hurricane strength" tropical storm. The official records note it as the latter.) In August 2011, portions of Long Island were evacuated in preparation for Hurricane Irene, a Category 1 hurricane which turned into a tropical storm before it reached Long Island.[33] On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy, a slow-moving "superstorm," reached the area causing 90% of Long Island households to lose power and an estimated $18 billion in damages in Nassau & Suffolk Counties alone.[34][35] The extent of Sandy's damages is second only to those caused by the 1938 Long Island Express (even though Sandy's barometric pressure was lower and set a record).[36]

Additional Islands[edit]

In addition to the main island, several smaller islands comprise what is collectively considered Long Island. These islands include Fire Island, Plum Island, Robins Island, Gardiners Island, Fishers Island and Shelter Island.

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 37,108
1800 42,907 15.6%
1810 48,752 13.6%
1820 56,978 16.9%
1830 69,775 22.5%
1840 110,406 58.2%
1850 212,637 92.6%
1860 379,788 78.6%
1870 540,648 42.4%
1880 743,957 37.6%
1890 1,029,097 38.3%
1900 1,452,611 41.2%
1910 2,098,460 44.5%
1920 2,723,764 29.8%
1930 4,103,638 50.7%
1940 4,600,022 12.1%
1950 5,237,918 13.9%
1960 6,403,852 22.3%
1970 7,141,515 11.5%
1980 6,728,074 −5.8%
1990 6,861,474 2.0%
2000 7,448,618 8.6%
2010 7,568,304 1.6%
Est. 2013 7,740,208 [3][4][5][6] 2.3%

Long Island is one of the most densely populated regions in the United States. As of the United States 2010 Census, the total population of all four counties of Long Island was 7,568,304, which is 39 percent of the population of the State of New York. New York City's portion of the census was 4,735,538, with Brooklyn's population at 2,504,700 and Queens having 2,230,722 residents. Long Island's Census-estimated population has susbsequently increased 2.3% since 2010, to 7,740,208 in 2013.

As of the 2010 census, the combined population of Nassau and Suffolk counties was 2,832,882 people; Suffolk County's share at 1,493,350 and Nassau County's at 1,339,532. Nassau County had a larger population for decades, but Suffolk County surpassed it in the 1990 census as growth and development continued to spread eastward.

Long Island contains one of the world's largest populations of Jews both secular and non-secular. Seen here are ultra-orthodox Jews in Brooklyn

As Suffolk County has more than twice the land area of Nassau County, the latter still has a much higher population density. Combining all four counties, Long Island's population is greater than 38 of the 50 United States. If it were an independent nation, Long Island would rank as the 96th most populated nation, falling between Switzerland and Israel.

Population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau Census 2010[42] show that whites are the largest racial group in all four counties, and are in the majority in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In 2002, The New York Times cited a study by the non-profit group ERASE Racism, which determined that Nassau and Suffolk counties constitute the most racially segregated suburbs in the United States.[43]

According to a 2000 Report on Religion, which asked congregations to respond, Catholics are the largest religious group on Long Island, with non-affiliated in second place. Catholics make up 52% of the population of Nassau and Suffolk, versus 22% for the country as a whole, with Jews at 16% and 7%, respectively, versus 1.7% nationwide.[44] Only a small percentage of Protestants responded, 7% and 8% respectively, for Nassau and Suffolk counties. This is in contrast with 23% for the entire country on the same survey, and 50% on self-identification surveys.[44]

Long Island has a substantial Italian-American population. About 26% of total Long Island residents claim Italian ancestry and 28% of Suffolk County residents claim Italian ancestry.[citation needed]

More recently, a Little India community has emerged in Hicksville, Nassau County.[45][46] Rapidly growing Chinatowns have developed in Brooklyn and Queens, with Asian immigrants moving into Nassau County,[47] as did earlier European immigrants such as the Irish and Italians.

Likewise, the Long Island Koreatown (롱 아일랜드 코리아타운) originated in Flushing, Queens. It is expanding eastward along Northern Boulevard[37][38][39][40][41] and eventually into Nassau County.[38][39]

A 2010 article in The New York Times stated that the expansion of the immigrant workforce on Long Island has not displaced any jobs from other Long Island residents. Half the immigrants on Long Island hold white-collar positions.[48]

Racial groups, ethnicity, and religious groups on Long Island
compared to state and nation
County
Population
2010
census
 %
white
 %
black
or
African
American
 %
Asian
 %
Other
 %
mixed
race
 %
Hispanic/
Latino
of any
race
 %
Catholic
 % not
affiliated
 %
Jewish
 %
Protestant
Estimate
of % not
reporting
Race Ethnicity Religious groups
Kings 2,504,700 42.8 34.3 10.5 9.3 3.0 17.6 37 4 15 8 33
Queens 2,230,722 39.7 19.1 22.9 13.7 4.5 27.5 29 37 11 5 15
Nassau 1,339,532 73.0 11.1 7.6 5.9 2.4 14.6 52 9 16 7 15
Suffolk 1,493,350 80.8 7.4 3.4 5.9 2.4 16.5 52 21 7 8 11
Long Island Total 7,568,304 54.7 20.4 12.3 9.3 3.2 20.5 40 18 12 7 20
NY State 19,378,102 65.7 15.9 7.3 8.0 3.0 17.6 42 20 9 10 16
USA 308,745,538 72.4 12.6 4.8 7.3 2.9 16.3 22 37 2 23 12
Source for Race and Ethnicity: 2010 Census[42][49]
American Indian, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander make up just 0.5% of the population of Long Island, and have been included with "Other".
Source for religious groups: ARDA2000[44][50]

Economy[edit]

F-14 Tomcat on static display pedestal at Grumman Memorial Park, Calverton, New York

The counties of Nassau and Suffolk have been long renowned for their affluence.

From about 1930 to about 1990, Long Island was considered one of the aviation centers of the United States, with companies such as Grumman Aircraft, Republic, Fairchild, and Curtiss having their headquarters and factories on Long Island.

Long Island has played a prominent role in scientific research and in engineering. It is the home of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in nuclear physics and Department of Energy research.

In recent decades companies such as Sperry Rand, Computer Associates (headquartered in Islandia), Motorola Enterprise Mobility (now occupying the former headquarters of Symbol Technologies and a former Grumman plant in Holtsville), have made Long Island a center for the computer industry. Stony Brook University of the State University of New York conducts far-ranging medical and technology research.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a renowned biomedical research facility

Long Island is also home to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which was directed for 35 years by James D. Watson (who, along with Francis Crick, discovered the double helix structure of DNA).

Long Island is home to the East Coast's largest industrial park, the Hauppauge Industrial Park. The park has over 1,300 companies employing more than 71,000 Long Islanders. Companies in the park and abroad are represented by the Hauppauge Industrial Association. As many as 20 percent of Long Islanders commute to New York City jobs. The eastern end of the island is still partly agricultural. In the last 25 years, development of vineyards on the North Fork became a major new industry, replacing potato fields. Pumpkin farms have been added to traditional truck farming. Farms allow fresh fruit picking by Long Islanders for much of the year. Fishing continues to be an important industry, especially at Huntington, Northport, Montauk, and other coastal communities of the East End and South Shore.

Government and politics[edit]

A commemorative half dollar issued in 1936 for the Long island tercentenary

Nassau County and Suffolk County each have their own governments, with a County Executive leading each. Each has a county legislature and countywide-elected officials, such as district attorney, county clerk, and county comptroller. The towns in both counties have their own governments as well, with town supervisors and a town council. Nassau County is divided into three towns and two small incorporated cities (Glen Cove and Long Beach). Suffolk County is divided into ten towns.

Brooklyn and Queens, on the other hand, do not have county governments. As boroughs of New York City, both have Borough Presidents, which have been largely ceremonial offices since the shutdown of the New York City Board of Estimate.

Long Island is home to two Native American Indian reservations, Poospatuck Reservation, and Shinnecock Reservation. Both Reservations are in Suffolk County. Numerous island place names are Native American in origin.

Law enforcement[edit]

Queens and Brooklyn are patrolled by the New York City Police Department; Nassau and Suffolk counties respectively have the Nassau County Police Department and Suffolk County Police Department. New York State Police patrol state parks and parkways; several dozen villages and the two cities in Nassau have their own police departments.

Both Nassau and Suffolk have a sheriff's office that handles civil process, evictions, warrant service and enforcement, prisoner transport and detention, and operation of the county jail.

Secession proposals[edit]

The secession of Long Island from New York was proposed as early as 1896, but talk was revived towards the latter part of the twentieth century.[51] On March 28, 2008 Suffolk County, New York Comptroller Joseph Sawicki proposed a plan that would make Long Island (specifically, Nassau and Suffolk counties) the 51st state of the United States of America.[52] Sawicki says that all the Long Island taxpayers' money would stay on Long Island, rather than the funds being dispersed all over the entire state of New York, and Long Island sending to Albany over three billion dollars more than it receives back.[53] The state of Long Island would include over 2.7 million people (larger than that of fifteen other states). So far Nassau County executives have not expressed interest in joining in the secession proposal, which would need to be approved by the NY State Legislature.[52]

Transportation[edit]

Every major form of transportation serves Long Island, including John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Long Island MacArthur Airport, multiple smaller airports, railroads, subways, and several major highways. There are historic and modern bridges, recreational and commuter trails, and ferries serving various parts of all of Long Island.

There are currently ten road crossings out of Long Island, all within New York City limits at the extreme western end of the island. Plans for a Long Island Crossing at various locations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties (a proposed bridge or tunnel that would link Long Island to the south with New York or Connecticut to the north across Long Island Sound) have been discussed for decades, but there are currently no firm plans to construct such a crossing.

Public Transportation[edit]

The MTA implements mass transportation for the New York metropolitan area, including all five boroughs of New York City, the suburban counties of Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester, all of which together are the "Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD)".

The MTA is the largest public transportation provider in the Western Hemisphere. Its agencies serve 14.6 million people spread over 5,000 square miles (13,000 km²) from New York City through southeastern New York State (including Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley), and Connecticut. Combined the MTA agencies now move more than 2.6 billion rail and bus customers a year while employing some 70,000 workers.

Rail[edit]

Main article: Long Island Rail Road
Schematic map of LIRR system

The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is the busiest commuter railroad system in North America, carrying an average of 282,400 passengers each weekday on 728 daily trains. Chartered on April 24, 1834, it is also the oldest railroad still operating under its original name.[54]

Bus[edit]

Nassau Inter-County Express provides bus service in Nassau County, while Suffolk County Transit, an agency of the Suffolk County government, provides bus service in Suffolk County.

In 2012, NICE Bus Company replaced the former Long Island Bus in transporting Long Islanders across Nassau County while still allowing them to use the MTA metro cards as payment.[55]

Roads[edit]

Long Island Expressway in Nassau County

The Long Island Expressway, Northern State Parkway, and Southern State Parkway, all products of the automobile-centered planning of Robert Moses, are the island's primary east-west high-speed throughfares.

Major roads of Long Island
West-East Roads

NY-27A.svg Montauk Highway

NY-27.svg Sunrise Highway*

Belt Pkwy Shield.svg Belt Parkway / Southern Pkwy Shield.svg Southern State Parkway

NY-24.svg Hempstead Turnpike

Grand Central Pkwy Shield.svg Grand Central Parkway / Northern Pkwy Shield.svg Northern State Parkway

I-495.svg Long Island Expressway

NY-25.svg Jericho Turnpike/Middle Country Road

NY-25A.svg Northern Boulevard

South-North Roads

I-278.svg Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

I-678.svg Van Wyck Expressway

I-878.svg NY-878.svg Nassau Expressway

I-295.svg Clearview Expressway

Cross Island Pkwy Shield.svg Cross Island Parkway

Meadowbrook Pkwy Shield.svg Meadowbrook State Parkway

Wantagh Pkwy Shield.svg Wantagh State Parkway

NY-106.svg Newbridge Road

NY-107.svg Cedar Swamp Road/Broadway/Hicksville Road

NY-109.svg Babylon–Farmingdale Turnpike

NY-135.svg Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway

NY-110.svg Broad Hollow Road

NY-231.svg Deer Park Avenue

Robert Moses Cswy Shield.svg Robert Moses Causeway

Sagtikos Pkwy Shield.svg Sagtikos State Parkway

Sunken Meadow Pkwy Shield.svg Sunken Meadow State Parkway

NY-111.svg Islip Avenue

Suffolk County 97.svg Nicolls Road

Suffolk County 46.svg William Floyd Parkway

Roads in boldface are limited access roads. *Sunrise Highway is only limited-access from western Suffolk county eastwards.

Education[edit]

The academic mall across Stony Brook University's main campus

Primary and secondary education[edit]

Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties are the home of 125 public school districts containing a total of 656 public schools. In contrast, all of Brooklyn and Queens are served by the New York City Department of Education, the largest school district in the United States. Long Island is also home to a number of private and parochial schools.

Colleges and universities[edit]

Long Island is home to a range of higher-education institutions, both public and private. Brooklyn and Queens contain five of eleven senior colleges within the City University of New York, the public university system of New York City and one of the largest in the country. Among these are the notable institutions of Brooklyn College and Queens College. Nassau and Suffolk counties are similarly served by the State University of New York system, and contain one of its flagship institutions, Stony Brook University, an internationally recognized research university. Among private institutions are Hofstra University and Adelphi University, both located in the town of Hempstead. Brooklyn contains the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, an engineering college that merged with New York University in 2014. Long Island also contains the Webb Institute, a small naval architecture college in Glen Cove.

Culture[edit]

Music[edit]

Main article: Music of Long Island

Music on Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk) is strongly influenced by the proximity to New York City and by the youth culture of the suburbs. Psychedelic rock was widely popular in the 1960s as flocks of disaffected youth travelled to NYC to participate in protest and the culture of the time. R & B also has a history on Long Island, especially in areas close to New York City. In the late 1970s through the 1980s, the influence of radio station WLIR made Long Island one of the first places in the U.S. to hear and embrace European New Wave bands such as Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys, and Culture Club. In the 1990s, hip-hop became very popular with rap pioneers Rakim and Public Enemy growing up on Long Island. Recently, new bands have been making a name for themselves originating from Long Island such as Brand New, Austin Schoeffel and Envy on the Coast.

Famous rock bands that originated on Long Island include Dream Theater, Blue Öyster Cult, Twisted Sister and guitar virtuosos John Petrucci, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.

The Nassau Coliseum and Nikon at Jones Beach Theater are venues used by national touring acts as performance spaces for concerts. Nikon at Jones Beach Theater is an outdoor amphitheatre, located at Jones Beach State Park. It is a popular place to view summer concerts, with new as well as classic artists performing there during the summer months. It hosts a large Fourth of July fireworks show every year which fills the stands. People also park cars along the highway leading to the show, and others watch from the nearby beaches.[56]

Long Island is also known for its school music programs. Many schools in Suffolk County have distinguished music programs, with high numbers of students who are accepted into the state-wide All-State music groups, or even the National All-Eastern Coast music groups. Both the Suffolk County and Nassau County Music Educator's Associations are recognized by The National Association of Music Education (MENC),[57][58] and host numerous events, competitions, and other music-related activities.

Cuisine[edit]

Long Island has historically been a center for fishing and seafood. This legacy continues in the Blue Point oyster, a now ubiquitous variety that was originally harvested on the Great South Bay and was the favorite oyster of Queen Victoria. Clams are also a popular food and clam digging a popular recreational pursuit, with Manhattan clam chowder reputed to have Long Island origins.[59]

A winery and tasting room in a 1690 farmhouse near Stony Brook, New York

Of land-based produce, Long Island duck has a history of national recognition since the 19th century, with four duck farms continuing to produce 2 million ducks a year as of 2013.[60] Two symbols of Long Island's duck farming heritage are the Long Island Ducks minor-league baseball team and the Big Duck, a 1931 duck-shaped building that is a historic landmark and tourist attraction. In addition to Long Island's duck industry, Riverhead contains one of the largest buffalo farms on the East coast. [61]

Long Island is well known for its production of alcoholic beverages. Eastern Long Island is a significant producer of wines. Vineyards are most heavily concentrated on Long Island's North Fork, which contains 38 wineries. Most of these contain tasting rooms, which serve as popular tourist attractions for visitors from across the New York metropolitan area.[62] Long Island has also become a producer of diverse craft beers, with 15 microbreweries existing across Nassau and Suffolk counties as of 2013. The largest of these is Blue Point Brewing Company, best known for its toasted lager.[63] Long Island is also globally known for its signature cocktail, the Long Island Iced Tea, which purportedly was invented at a popular Jones Beach nightclub in the 1970s.[64]

The eateries on Long Island are largely a product of the region's local ethnic populations. Italian cuisine is represented by ubiquitous pizzerias spread throughout the island, with the region hosting an annual competition, the Long Island Pizza Festival & Bake-Off. Jewish cuisine is likewise represented by delicatessens and bagel stores.

Sports[edit]

The New York Mets baseball team plays at Citi Field in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens. Their former stadium, Shea Stadium was also home for The New York Jets football team from 1964 until 1983. The new stadium is designed with an exterior facade and main entry rotunda inspired by Ebbets Field. The New York Mets had planned to move their Double-A farm team to Long Island, as part of the ambitious but now-defunct plan for Nassau county called The Lighthouse Project. The Brooklyn Cyclones are a minor league baseball team, affiliated with the New York Mets. The Cyclones play at KeySpan Park just off the boardwalk on Coney Island in Brooklyn.

The Barclays Center, a new sports arena, business, and residential complex built partly on a platform over the Atlantic Yards at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, is the current home of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. The move from New Jersey in the summer of 2012 marked the return to Long Island for the franchise, which played at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum from 1972–1977.

Nassau County is home to the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League. The Islanders have played at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale since their inception in 1972. The Islanders will move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015, ensuring that the team will remain on Long Island.

Long Island has a professional soccer club, the New York Cosmos, who play in the Division 2 North American Soccer League at James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead.

Queens also hosts one of the four tennis grand slams, the US Open. Every August (September, in Olympic years) the best tennis players in the world travel to Long Island to play the championships, which is held in the USTA National Tennis Center, located adjacent to Citi Field in Flushing Meadows Park. The complex also contains the biggest tennis stadium in the world, the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The Stony Brook Seawolves during their 2012 homecoming game

Ebbets Field, which stood in Brooklyn from 1913 to 1957, was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team, who moved to California after the 1957 season to become the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers won several National League pennants in the 1940s and 1950s, losing several times in the World Series—often called Subway Series—to their Bronx rivals, the New York Yankees. The Dodgers won their lone championship in Brooklyn in the 1955 World Series versus the Yankees.

Long Island has been a hot spot for outdoor lacrosse at the youth and college level, which made way for a Major League Lacrosse team in 2001, the Long Island Lizards. The Lizards play at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale.

The New York Dragons of the Arena Football League also played their home games at Nassau Coliseum. Long Island has also been at the forefront of Semi-Professional football. The Empire State Demon Knights[65] of the Five Star Football League have called Long Island their home since they relinquished the name Kings County Wolfpack and moved to Suffolk County.

Preparing for a horse race at Belmont Park, home of the Belmont Stakes, final leg of the Triple Crown

Long Island is also home to the Long Island Ducks minor league baseball team of the Atlantic League. Their stadium, Bethpage Ballpark, is located in Central Islip. The two main rugby teams are the Long Island RFC in East Meadow and the Suffolk Bull Moose in Stony Brook.

Another category of sporting events popular in this region are Firematic Racing events, involving many local Volunteer fire departments.

Bethpage Ballpark, home of the Long Island Ducks minor league baseball team

Long Island also has two horse racing tracks, Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, Queens and Belmont Park on the Queens/Nassau border in Elmont, home of the Belmont Stakes. The longest dirt Thoroughbred racecourse in the world is located in the Nassau County community of Elmont at Belmont Park.

Long Island is home to numerous famous athletes, including Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Julius Erving, John Mackey, Nick Drahos, and Carl Yastrzemski. Others include Gold Medalists Sue Bird, Sarah Hughes and Derrick Adkins, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Billy Donovan, Larry Brown, Rick Pitino, John McEnroe, Jumbo Elliott, Mick Foley, Zack Ryder, Matt Serra, Boomer Esiason, Vinny Testaverde, Craig Biggio, Frank Catalanotto, Greg Sacks, Rob Burnett, Steve Park, Frank Viola, Chris Weidman, Marques Colston and Speedy Claxton. Several current NHL Players such as Vancouver Canucks Christopher Higgins and Matt Gilroy, Nashville Predators Eric Nystrom, Toronto Maple Leaf Mike Komisarek, and Pittsburgh Penguin Rob Scuderi were all born and/or raised on Long Island. Both Komisarek and Higgins played on the same Suffolk County Hockey League team at an early age, and later played on the Montreal Canadiens together. Nick Drahos was an All Scholastic and All Long Island honoree at Lawrence High School, Nassau Co. in 1936 and 1937, and a 2-time Unanimous National College All-American in the years of 1939 and 1940 at Cornell University.

Club Sport Founded League Venue
Brooklyn Nets Basketball 1967 National Basketball Association Barclays Center
New York Islanders Ice hockey 1972 National Hockey League Nassau Coliseum
New York Mets Baseball 1962 Major League Baseball Citi Field
Brooklyn Cyclones Baseball 2001 New York-Penn League MCU Park
Long Island Ducks Baseball 2000 Atlantic League Bethpage Ballpark
New York Cosmos Soccer 2010 North American Soccer League James M. Shuart Stadium
New York Lizards Lacrosse 2001 Major League Lacrosse Shuart Stadium and Icahn Stadium
Empire State Demon Knights Football 2008 Five Star Football League Aviator Sports Complex
Long Island Lions Football 2010 Five Star Football League Mitchel Athletic Field

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Coordinates: 40°48′N 73°18′W / 40.8°N 73.3°W / 40.8; -73.3