Wantagh, New York

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Wantagh, New York
Hamlet and census-designated place
Welcome to Wantagh Sign1.jpg
Nickname(s): The Gateway to Jones Beach
U.S. Census Map
U.S. Census Map
Wantagh, New York is located in New York
Wantagh, New York
Wantagh, New York
Location within the state of New York
Coordinates: 40°40′29″N 73°30′38″W / 40.67472°N 73.51056°W / 40.67472; -73.51056Coordinates: 40°40′29″N 73°30′38″W / 40.67472°N 73.51056°W / 40.67472; -73.51056
Country United States
State New York
County Nassau
Area
 • Total 4.1 sq mi (10.7 km2)
 • Land 3.8 sq mi (10.0 km2)
 • Water 0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)
Elevation 23 ft (7 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 18,871
 • Density 4,600/sq mi (1,800/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 11793
Area code(s) 516
FIPS code 36-78146[1]
GNIS feature ID 0968763[2]
Website www.wantagh.li

Wantagh (pronounced /WAHN-taw/) is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) in the Town of Hempstead in Nassau County on Long Island, New York, United States. The population of Wantagh was 18,871 at the time of the 2010 census.

Wantagh is known as "The Gateway to Jones Beach".

History[edit]

The Wantagh area was inhabited by the Merokee (or Merikoke) tribe of the Metoac Indians prior to the first wave of European settlement in the mid-17th century. The Merokee were part of the greater Montauk tribe that loosely ruled Long Island's Native Americans. Wantagh was the sachem (chief) of the Merokee tribe in 1647,[3] and was later the grand sachem of the Montauk tribe from 1651-1658. The Dutch settlers came east from their New Amsterdam colony, and English settlers came south from Connecticut and Massachusetts settlements. When the English and Dutch settled their competing claims to Long Island in the 1650 treaty conducted in Hartford, the Dutch partition included all lands west of Oyster Bay and thus the Wantagh area. Long Island then was ceded to the Duke of York in 1663-64, but then fell back into Dutch hands after the Dutch regained New York in 1673. The Treaty of Westminster in 1674 settled the land claims once and for all, incorporating Long Island into the now-British colony of New York.[4]

Wantagh was originally known as "Jerusalem", although some early accounts do refer to the area as "Wantagh". The creek running north/south through Wantagh, and which has been covered up in many places but is still visible between the Wantagh Parkway and the housing developments west of Wantagh Avenue, was originally the Jerusalem River. The original post office was built in 1837, for Jerusalem, but mail service from Brooklyn began around 1780. The town's first school was established in 1790.[5] At some time around the 1880s, Jerusalem was renamed Ridgewood, and the town's original LIRR station was named "Ridgewood Station". Later, Ridgewood was renamed Wantagh to avoid confusion with another town in New York State with the same name.

George Washington rode through Jerusalem on April 21, 1790, as part of his 5-day tour of Long Island. The Daughters of the American Revolution have placed a plaque on Hempstead Turnpike to commemorate Washington's travels, which took him from Hempstead on Jerusalem Road (now North Jerusalem Road) to Jerusalem, on to Merrick Road. He then went on to head east, then circle back west on the north shore. During the Revolutionary War, British ships traveled up Jones inlet and came ashore to raid Jerusalem farms.[6]

The oldest original settlers of the Wantagh/Jerusalem area were the Jackson and Seaman families, and their marks are still visible today. For example, the Cherrywood shopping center (at the corner of Jerusalem and Wantagh avenues) was the site of prominent settler Capt. John Seaman's estate, which was named Cherrywood. Wantagh is home to a number of New York State Historical Markers (9 of Nassau County's 25),[7] including:

  • Cherrywood, Capt. John Seaman's 300-acre (1.2 km2) estate and home, from 1644, on the corner of Wantagh and Jerusalem avenues
  • 1666 Jackson House, the home of Col. John Jackson, Brig. Gen. Jacob Shearman Jackson, and Samuel Jackson Jones (in 1923), on Merrick Road east of Riverside Drive
  • The Grist Mill Site, granted to Col. John Jackson on the Jerusalem River in 1704, on Merrick Road east of Riverside Drive
  • The Cornbury Patent, given by Queen Anne conferring the present-day site of Jones Beach to Major Thomas Jones, whose family would later provide the land that would become Jones Beach State Park in 1929
  • The 1644 home of Robert Jackson, Jerusalem's pioneer settler, on Wantagh Avenue south of Hempstead Avenue
  • North Jerusalem Road, originally constructed in 1644 between Hempstead and Jerusalem
  • The 1777 home of Richard Jackson, Captain in the Queens County Militia in the Revolutionary War, and where his daughter, Jane, lived with her husband, ex-Hessian soldier Lt. John Althause, on Wantagh Avenue and Island Road

The Samuel and Elbert Jackson House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.[8]

The oldest cemetery in Wantagh is the Jackson Cemetery, located just north of the St. Frances de Chantal Roman Catholic Church on Wantagh Avenue.[9] There are 63 confirmed graves that include descendants from the Seaman and Jackson families, with the most notable including Thomas Jackson, who served in the Revolutionary War in the Second New York Regiment and participated in the Battle of Long Island and the storming of Fort St. George under Major Talmadge in 1780, and who was the original landowner of the site of land around the Wantagh Public Library; and General Jacob Seaman Jackson, a brigadier general in the War of 1812 and senior warden of Long Island's first chartered Masonic lodge in 1797.

The Rierson burial plot was located in what has been redeveloped into Bunker Avenue. This cemetery includes members of the Rierson family who were Loyalists during the Revolutionary War.[10]

The Jerusalem Society of Friends Cemetery is located behind (east of) the current Christian Tabernacle Church. The Society of Friends were Quakers who maintained meeting houses in Jericho, Bethpage, and Hempstead, and met in then-Jerusalem as early as 1697. Capt. John Seaman allowed the Society to conduct meetings on his land in 1699, but the congregation later traveled to Bethpage to worship. The Jerusalem Society of Friends purchased land from another Seaman, Arden Seaman, and then constructed their own meeting house on the site of the current Christian Tabernacle Church in 1827, and added the cemetery in 1861. By the 1940s, the congregation had dwindled significantly, and the property was sold in 1952 to the newly formed Wantagh Baptist Church and then recently sold to the newly formed Christian Tabernacle Church in 2007. The cemetery contains the graves of three Civil War veterans: Lt. H.R. Jackson, Gilbert Seaman, of the 139th Regiment of NY Volunteers, and Charles Wilson, of the 119th Regiment of NY Volunteers and who was wounded in Gettysburg.[11]

The St. John of Jerusalem Cemetery served the German Methodists, who moved to Jerusalem from New York City around 1850 to farm. The cemetery can be found west of Wantagh Avenue a few hundred yards north of North Jerusalem Road (now North Wantagh). The congregation began to meet in 1854 and held services entirely in German. The cemetery was constructed in 1862 and was intended only for use by congregation members and their families. Later generations of congregants grew weary of the services in German, and numbers dwindled until the last German service was held in 1911. From 1912 to 1926, the church remained unused. The church has since been used by a local Lutheran congregation from 1926 to 1940, and a United Christian congregation from 1949 to 1969. Since then, however, the church has remained unused, although the cemetery has been fenced in and maintained by a Board of Trustees. The cemetery contains graves of veterans from the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, and Vietnam.[12]

The area that became today's Wantagh continued primarily as a farming area until the construction of Sunrise Highway and Jones Beach in the early 20th century, when tourism and fishing took hold, centering around Jones Beach. The Long Island Rail Road has served the town since 1885 (and possibly as early as 1867), but the town did not take on a suburban character until the housing development between the 1950s and 1970s. The LIRR tracks were completely elevated in 1968, along with neighboring Seaford station. The Wantagh Railroad Complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.[8]

Geography[edit]

Wantagh is located at 40°40′29″N 73°30′38″W / 40.67472°N 73.51056°W / 40.67472; -73.51056 (40.674697, -73.510548).[13]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 4.1 square miles (11 km2), of which 3.8 square miles (9.8 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2), or 7.25%, is water.

Demographics[edit]

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 18,971 people, 6,179 households, and 5,215 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 4,936.3 per square mile (1,907.5/km²). There were 6,250 housing units at an average density of 1,626.3/sq mi (628.4/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 96.75% White (U.S. Census), 0.20% Black or African American, 0.04% Native American, 1.89% Asian, 0.34% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.26% of the population.

Intersection of Wantagh Ave. and Sunrise Highway.

There were 6,179 households out of which 41.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 73.8% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 15.6% were non-families. 13.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.06 and the average family size was 3.37.

Public services[edit]

The Main Wantagh United States Postal Service Office is located at 3300 Park Avenue. The (North) Wantagh Branch USPS Office is located at 1250 Wantagh Avenue. The ZIP code for both post offices is 11793.

Nassau County Auxiliary Police[edit]

A Nassau County Auxiliary Police car

Wantagh has been served by Unit 132 of the Nassau County Auxiliary Police since 1952. These volunteer police officers perform routine patrols of the neighborhood and provide traffic control for local parades, races and other community events.

These officers have completed a 48-week training course at the Nassau County Police Academy and are registered with New York State as Peace Officers. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training is also made available.

WFD[edit]

Wantagh is protected by a volunteer fire department that is responsible for one of the largest fire districts in Nassau County covering 12 square miles (31 km2). The Wantagh Fire Department has approximately 250 members using 20 pieces of apparatus located throughout seven stations, two of which are administrative and training locations.

Jones Beach State Park is located within the department's jurisdiction. During large gatherings the WFD deploys various apparatus and its new mobile command center.

WLVAC[edit]

The Wantagh-Levittown Volunteer Ambulance Corps has been serving the community since 1956, and the all-volunteer paramedic and EMT unit is located at 3702 Hempstead Turnpike, Levittown.

Parks in and near Wantagh[edit]

Park Location Features
Jones Beach State Park South of Wantagh, accessible by Wantagh Parkway, Meadowbrook Parkway, or Ocean Parkway 6 miles (9.7 km) of white sandy Atlantic beachfront, 2 miles (3.2 km) of boardwalk, concession facilities, picnic areas, surfing, bandshell, pitch & putt golf, swimming pools, restaurant and catering area, miniature golf, softball field, roller skating rink, playground, beach volleyball, 15 paddle tennis courts, 22 shuffleboard courts, 4 basketball courts, historical art deco buildings, and site of the Jones Beach Theater. In addition to the park's facilities for vehicular traffic there is also a bike path that connects the park to the mainland and travels adjacent to Wantagh Parkway. The bike path starts at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford and is approximately 4.3 miles long and ends with bike racks. Bicyclists must leave their bikes at the bike racks during the park's peak season (summer months), but are allowed to ride further otherwise.
Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center West end of Jones Beach State Park South Shore Estuary Reserve, educational environmental boardwalk, child-friendly museum and visitor's center, Discovery Bone Cove, gift shop, butterfly garden
Mill Pond North of Merrick Road, West of Wantagh Parkway, East of Bellmore Avenue 15-acre (61,000 m2) pond for fishing a wide variety of fish: largemouth bass, chain pickerel, bluegill, pumpkinseed, black crappie, yellow perch, white perch, carp, American eel, brown bullhead, black bullhead. The park has a paved trail with benches for jogging, relaxation, and birdwatching.
Wantagh Park
Wantagh Park, facing Jones Beach
South of Merrick Road, off of Woodland Avenue Swimming complex (six pools), open and sheltered picnic tables and grills, concession facilities, tennis courts, bocce, horseshoes, large playgrounds, illuminated baseball and softball fields, year-round fishing pier, boating marina and launch ramp, fenced-in dog run area, jogging trails.
Twin Lakes Preserve
Twin Lakes Preserve
Corner of Park Avenue and Old Mill Road 58-acre (230,000 m2) woodland preserve with unpaved trails, nature tours available, the two lakes provide 30 acres (120,000 m2) of water for shoreline fishing for largemouth bass, crappies, perch, carp, bullhead, and stocked with rainbow and brown trout in the spring and fall

Special events[edit]

Event Description
The Federal Credit Union Annual Memorial Day Weekend Air Show This air show showcases military planes and stunt planes on the Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and takes place at Jones Beach State Park. Some past participants in the air show include the Canadian Snow Birds, the Blue Angels (US Navy), and the US Air Force Thunderbirds. The event starts at 10:00 AM and goes until around 3:00 PM. The only fee associated with the air show is for parking.

Library[edit]

The Wantagh Public Library, at 3285 Park Avenue, holds events throughout the year for community members, children, teens, and seniors, and displays local artwork and collections.

Museums[edit]

Old Wantagh Station with a 1912 LIRR car

The Wantagh Museum of the Wantagh Preservation Society displays Wantagh's original Long Island Rail Road Stationhouse, the "Jamaica" (an original 1912 LIRR car), and the original Wantagh Post Office building.

Wantagh nightlife[edit]

Wantagh is known throughout Long Island to have a very energetic and vibrant nightlife. Centered around the Wantagh Long Island Rail Road Station there are thirteen bars, pubs and clubs all within a quarter mile of the station. Last call in New York State is 4 a.m. thus keeping the area very active into early morning hours. Bars in the area include Calamity's, Mulcahy's, Cleary's Bar & Cafe, Shooters Tiki & Sports Bar, Johnny Malone's (formerly Lily Flanagan's), Boss Croker's, R.P. McMurphy's, Guido's Irish Pub, Hemingway's Bar & Grill, the Wantagh Inn, Thom Thom Restaurant, The Nook Restaurant and Corry's Ale House.

Education[edit]

Wantagh is primarily served by the Wantagh Union Free School District, which is composed of three elementary schools (Wantagh Elementary School, Mandalay School, and Forest Lake School), Wantagh Middle School, and Wantagh High School. All of these schools have been recognized as New York State Schools of Excellence. In addition, Wantagh is the only school district in New York State in which every school has been recognized as National Schools of Excellence.

Small areas in Wantagh's peripheral neighborhoods are also served by the Levittown School District, North Bellmore Union Free School District and Seaford Union Free School District.

Wantagh is also home to the Maplewood School, a private school that offers nursery, pre-school, kindergarten, and summer camp programs.

Transportation[edit]

Commuter rail service in Wantagh is provided by the Wantagh station on the Long Island Rail Road's Babylon Branch. Most parking at the station is limited to Town of Hempstead residents and requires a permit.[14] Express trains to Penn Station average roughly a 45-minute one-way trip.[15] Bus service in Wantagh is provided by the n19, and n73/n74 lines of the Nassau Inter-County Express.

Merrick Road, the Seaford – Oyster Bay Expressway, Sunrise Highway and the Wantagh State Parkway all traverse and have major intersections or exits/entrances within Wantagh.

Notable people[edit]

Checkers' tombstone

References[edit]

External links[edit]