Hempstead (village), New York
Hempstead, New York
|Incorporated Village of Hempstead|
|Town||Town of Hempstead|
|Named for||Heemstede, Netherlands|
|• Mayor||Don Ryan (R)|
|• Total||3.68 sq mi (9.53 km2)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||15,000/sq mi (5,700/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|New Netherland series|
|The Patroon System|
|People of New Netherland|
The Incorporated Village of Hempstead is located in the Town of Hempstead, Nassau County, New York, United States. The population was 53,891 at the 2010 census,, but by 2017 had reached 55,806 according to the U.S. Census Bureau estimate. It is the most densely populated village in New York. Hempstead Village is the site of the seventeenth-century "town spot" from which English and Dutch settlers developed the Town of Hempstead, the Town of North Hempstead, and ultimately Nassau County.
Several of Nassau County's most historically valuable buildings are in the Village of Hempstead, including Town of Hempstead Town Hall (built in 1918), Carman-Irish Hall at 160 Marvin Avenue (built about 1700), St. George's Episcopal Church (319 Front Street, erected 1822), St. George's Rectory (217 Peninsula Boulevard, built 1793), and the United Methodist Church at 40 Washington Street (erected 1855). The Carman-Irish Hall is occupied by American Legion Post 390. The church structures have been in continuous use by their congregations since they were built.
Christ's First Presbyterian Church at 353 Fulton Avenue is Nassau County's oldest Presbyterian congregation, and one of the earliest in the United States, having been founded in 1644 by Richard Denton.
Jackson Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, housed at 60 Peninsula Boulevard since the mid-1950s, was established between 1825 and 1840. It is one of the county's oldest African American congregations.
Diversity has long been a characteristic of Hempstead. While it was majority white until the mid-twentieth century, Hempstead had a significant black population from about 1651 onward, in addition to the native peoples still living on Long Island. Starting in the nineteenth century, Hempstead's diversity increased. Irish, Polish, and German immigrants arrived during the second half of the nineteenth century to join the descendants of the original English and Dutch settlers. Military personnel were trained at Camp Mills during 1918 and at Mitchel Field during World War II, and some stayed to raise families, adding other European-descent groups and African Americans. During the first half of the twentieth century, African Americans from the South who sought opportunities in the North established homes and businesses in Hempstead. Nassau County's first chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established in Hempstead in 1932. A major case against de facto segregation in Hempstead was taken to the New York State Supreme Court in 1949 by Thurgood Marshall. From the 1950s forward, the village's African American population has increased, and so have Mexican, Central American, and South American groups, as well as Caribbean immigrants, Middle Easterners, and Asians.
Hofstra University (founded 1934) is located in Hempstead.
The land on which the Village of Hempstead stands was under Dutch control from the early 1620s. The Dutch West India Company established, first a trading post in 1613, and then the community of New Amsterdam at the southern tip of Manhattan. Dutch colonies were founded in what is now New Jersey as well as the western half of Long Island. Attracting a sufficient quantity of Dutch settlers to colonize the land, however, proved difficult.
Meanwhile, European traders from France, Spain, Holland, and England set up trading posts along the Atlantic Coast; Native Americans had been encountering Europeans since Giovanni da Verrazzano sailed into New York Harbor on April 17, 1524. Starting with the Pilgrims in 1620, English citizens founded the colonies of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut. A Presbyterian minister named Richard Denton came from Yorkshire, England, to join the Massachusetts Bay colony. He then went to Connecticut and helped establish both Wethersfield and Stamford.
These colonies were threatened by wars among the Pequots, Narragansetts, and Mohegans. The Pequots had for decades forcibly exerted control over much of the area that became New England, subjugating the Mohegans and many other Algonquian-speaking groups, such as the Narragansett. The Pequots controlled the wampum and fur trades with the Europeans. Initially the Pequots lived peacefully with the Puritans and other English colonists of New England, but as English communities grew, the Pequots felt pressured by loss of territory. They began to trade exclusively with the Dutch, who were centered in New Amsterdam. Native groups resentful of Pequot control (mainly Mohegan and Narragansett) allied with the English. War broke out, culminating in the ugly Pequot War of 1936-1937, which broke the dominance of the Pequots.
Relations between Dutch and Indians in western Long Island, and between English and Indians on eastern Long Island, while never truly equal, were more peaceful than in New England. Incidents of violence and misunderstanding did occur during European encounters with the Native Americans along the Hudson River after Henry Hudson reached Manhattan in 1609. However, the native groups had something that the Europeans badly wanted (furs) and the native groups willingly traded furs for the brightly colored European coats and other clothing, as well as for European-style beads, firearms, metal tools, and at times alcohol. The relations between the foreigners and the natives therefore continued to develop. The Pequot defeat in 1636-1637 meant Long Island Native Americans were no longer subject to Pequot dominance, and were free to establish their own complex dealings with the Europeans.
The Dutch needed to populate Long Island or lose control of the territory. They invited New England colonists to found new settlements on Long Island, as long as the English settlers agreed to Dutch sovereignty. Possibly the English had visited Long Island during the late 1630s and early 1640s. A dreadful series of raids on Native American groups mainly in Staten Island and Manhattan, provoked and sustained by then-Dutch Governor Willem Kieft during 1640-1645, evoked retaliatory action from the Native groups, and led ultimately to the deaths of 1,000+ Native Americans and a few dozen white settlers (mostly Dutch). This unfortunate series of battles was known as Kieft's War, and was finally ended with a treaty signed in Manhattan in 1645. These perturbances could have deterred further European settlements in western Long Island. However, at a lull in Kieft's War, a Long Island Native leader known as Sachem Pennawitz represented Long Island's Native groups in a peace agreement with the Dutch on March 4, 1643. This peace agreement was the precursor to the 1643 journey of colonists from Stamford to mid-Long Island.
In the fall of 1643, two of Rev. Denton's followers, Robert Fordham and John Carman, crossed Long Island Sound by rowboat to negotiate with the local inhabitants (Indians) for a tract of land upon which to establish a new community or "town spot". Representatives of the Marsapeague (Massapequa), Mericock (Merrick), Matinecock and Rekowake (Rockaway) tribes met with the two men at a site slightly west of the current Denton Green in Hempstead Village. Tackapousha, who was the sachem (chief spokesman) of the Marsapeague, was the acknowledged spokesman for conducting the transaction. The Indians sold approximately 64,000 acres (260 km²), the present day towns of Hempstead and North Hempstead, for an unknown quantity of items; a 1657 revisit of this agreement names large and small cattle, stockings, wampum, hatchets, knives, trading cloth, powder, and lead given as payment by the English. Some items may have been valuable to the Native Americans in terms of the contemporary markets for European "trinkets," which may have held symbolic and spiritual importance to Native America peoples in the Northeast.
The 1643 transaction is depicted in a mural in Hempstead Village Hall, reproduced from a poster commemorating the 300th anniversary of Hempstead.
In the spring of 1644, thirty to forty families left Stamford, Connecticut, crossed Long Island Sound, landed in Hempstead Harbor and eventually made their way to the present site of the village of Hempstead where they began their English settlement within Dutch-controlled New Netherland. The settling of Hempstead marked the beginnings of the oldest English settlement in what is now Nassau County. Subsequent trips across the Sound brought more settlers who prepared a fort here for their mutual protection. These original Hempstead settlers were Puritans in search of a place where they could more freely express their particular brand of Protestantism. They established a Presbyterian church that is the oldest continually active Presbyterian congregation in the nation. In 1843, Benjamin F. Thompson wrote and published a history of the village, and an account of contemporary Hempstead Village. Thompson reported that there were 200 dwellings, and 1,400 residents; that the village was connected to New York City by a Turnpike and a railroad; that it had dry soil, excellent water, and pure air; and that it was the principal place of mercantile, and mechanical business, in the county. The village of Hempstead was incorporated on May 6, 1853, becoming the first community in Queens County (Nassau County did not exist as a separate county until 1899) to do so.
Regarding the origin of the name "Hempstead", Hempstead founder John Carman was born in 1606 in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England, on ancestral land recorded in the 2nd historic census of England (under Edward the First), the Rotuli Hundredorum (Hundred Rolls) AD 1273 as being owned by his direct ancestor Henry Carman. These same properties were on record continuously as being owned by Henry's descendants, through John Carman of 1606. John's wife Florence and her father, Rev. Robert Fordham, were from the county of Surrey, England. Another theory regarding the origin of the name 'Hempstead' is that it is derived from the Dutch town of 'Heemstede' in the Netherlands, as this was an area from which many Dutch settlers of New Netherland originated. Several of Hempstead's original fifty patentees had Dutch surnames. In 1664, the new settlement adopted the Duke's Laws, an austere set of laws that became the basis upon which the laws of many colonies were to be founded. For a time, Hempstead became known as "Old Blue," as a result of the "Blue Laws".
As the years passed, the population of Hempstead increased, as did its importance and prestige. Between 1703 and 1705, the newly formed St. George's Church, which would not have been called "Episcopal" then, but was under the established Church of England, received a silver communion service from England's Queen Anne. Right after he became President, George Washington made a tour of Long Island, stopping overnight at Sammis Tavern here (Nehemiah Sammis's Inn established between 1660 and 1680). Hempstead can boast of its share of celebrities. Peter Cooper, inventor and politician, lived with his brother in Hempstead until he married Sarah Bedell of Hempstead on Dec. 18, 1813, and settled there 1814-1818. During this time, he invented the self-rocking cradle, which he patented on March 27, 1815. His house was moved from Hempstead to Old Bethpage Restoration Village in about 1965, and still contains the cradle. During the 1820s on, he and his family lived in the city of New York, where he patented many inventions and in 1859 established The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a major experiment in adult education which operates still in lower Manhattan. Cooper ran for President on the "Greenback" ticket. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, spent her summers here between ages 4 and 8, when her father Elliott Roosevelt owned a summer home on Richardson place (now the site of the manse for St. Laudislaus RC Church). Lionel Barrymore reputedly lived at 75 Marvin Avenue.
During the American Revolution, Hempstead was a center of British sympathizers or Tories, as they were known. The British attempted to occupy Hempstead after the Battle of Long Island, and used St. George's as a headquarters as well as a place to worship. Judge Thomas Jones faulted a lax peace treaty for forcing the evacuation of the loyalists.
In the 19th century Hempstead became increasingly important as a trading center for Long Island. In 1853 it became the first self-governing incorporated village. Many prominent families such as the Vanderbilts and the Belmonts built homes here, making Hempstead a center of Long Island society. Hempstead merchants established routes out to outlying farms, and served as a distribution point for many firms. Wagons would leave Hempstead loaded with tobacco, candy and cigarettes and return in a week to restock. Bakeries covered routes from Baldwin to Far Rockaway daily. Butchers ran routes to Seaford, Elmont, Valley Stream, Wantagh, East Meadow, Creedmoor, East Rockaway and Christian Hook. Drugs, medicines, perfumes, extracts, aprons, children's coats and dresses and men's clothes were peddled about the country by Hempstead merchants. People came from all sections of Queens to purchase stoves, and there were few places outside Hempstead where stoves could be purchased. Hempstead was the shopping center for Nassau County and the eastern portion of Queens, those settlements east of Jamaica before 1900 when Nassau County was established, following the creation of the City of Greater New York in 1898. Hempstead has historically been the center of commercial activity for the eastern counties of Long Island. In Nassau County, all major county roads emanate from this village. It is indeed the "Hub" of Nassau County. During the 18th and 19th centuries, all stage coaches en route to eastern Long Island from Brooklyn passed through Hempstead. Today, seventeen bus routes and three interstate buses leave from the village every day. In addition, the Hempstead Branch of the Long Island Rail Road has its terminal here. At one time, there were three railroad companies with terminals within the village.
In March 1898, Camp Black was formed on the Hempstead Plains (roughly the shared location of Hempstead and Garden City), in support of the impending Spanish–American War. Camp Black was bounded on the north by Old Country Road, on the west by Clinton Road, and on the south by the Central Line rail. Camp Black was opened on April 29, 1898 as a training facility and a point of embarkation for troops.
Charles A. Lindbergh, arguably the world's most famous aviator, spent quite a bit of time in Hempstead both before and after his epic solo flight from nearby Roosevelt Field to Le Bourget Field in Paris, France on May 20, 1927. While living here, Christopher Morley was so enamored with the place that on the three hundredth anniversary of its founding he wrote a beautiful essay in tribute. His first novel, Parnassus on Wheels, was written on a kitchen table at his Oak Street, Hempstead home in 1917. In 1704 the first stage coach on Long Island stopped to water its horses here.
Early Long Islanders made their living in agriculture or from the sea. Hempstead, with its central location, became the marketplace for the outlying rural farming communities. It was a natural progression, as the surrounding areas developed from small farms into today's suburbia, that Hempstead Village would remain as the marketplace. Chain department stores such as Arnold Constable and Abraham & Straus called Hempstead home for many years. Hempstead's Abraham & Straus was the largest grossing suburban department store in the country during the late 1960s. Hempstead was Nassau's retail center during the 1940s through the 1960s. The advent of regional shopping malls such as the one at nearby Roosevelt Field, the demise of nearby Mitchel Air Force Base in 1961 as well as the changing demographics put the retail trade in the village into a downward spiral that it was unable to recover from during the recessions of the 1970s and 1980s. A plethora of businesses left the village in the 1980s and early 1990s, notably retail giant, Abraham & Straus.
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In the course of the 1990s the village saw redevelopment as a government center as well as business center. There are more government employees from all levels of government in the village than there are in the county seat in Mineola. According to James York, the municipal historian, writing in 1998, the population during the day might rise to nearly 200,000, from a normal census of 50,000. Retailers' interest in the village was rekindled, due to the aggressive revitalization efforts of former Mayor James Garner, who served from 1989 to 2005, and former Community Development Agency Commissioner, Glen Spiritis, who served under Garner's administration. Specifically, two large tracts of retail property have recently undergone redevelopment. The former 8.8-acre (36,000 m2) Times Squares Stores (or TSS) property on Peninsula Boulevard and Franklin Street has been redeveloped as Hempstead Village Commons, a 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) retail center including Pep Boys and Staples. The former Abraham & Straus department store on 17 acres (69,000 m2) has recently undergone demolition and been replaced by a large retail development consisting of Home Depot, Old Navy, Stop & Shop and many other smaller establishments. A considerable infusion of state and federal funding as well as private investment have enabled the replacement of blighted storefronts, complete commercial building rehabilitations and the development of affordable housing for the local population. The replacement of the 1913 Long Island Rail Road Hempstead Terminal with a modern facility was completed in 2002 and a four-story, 112 unit building for senior housing, with retail on the ground level was completed at Main and West Columbia Streets in January 1998. Thirty two units of affordable townhouses known as Patterson Mews at Henry Street and Baldwin Road was completed and fully occupied in 1997.
In 1989, Hempstead residents elected James A. Garner (R) as their mayor. He was the first Black or African-American mayor ever elected to office in New York state and he served for four consecutive terms. Subsequently, Wayne Hall, a former Village of Hempstead trustee who is also African American, served as mayor for three terms, from 2005 to 2017.
The first African-American male judge, Lance Clarke, was elected in 2001. Cynthia Diaz-Wilson was the first female justice in the Village of Hempstead and first African American village justice in the state of New York.
In recent years, there has been concern regarding ongoing gang activity in certain neighborhoods, notably the "Heights". Hempstead was also one of the first Long Island communities that had to deal with the Salvadoran gang, MS-13 or "La Mara Salvatrucha". The continual intra-violence this gang has exhibited has led to the formation of their arch-rivals, "SWP" or "Salvadorans with Pride". These issues have contributed to Hempstead's high crime rate as compared to other communities in the area.
Hempstead has developed into the most populous village in the state of New York, with a population in excess of 50,000 people. It is also the seat of government for the town of Hempstead, the largest minor civil division in the nation with over seven hundred thousand people. Hempstead is just as urban (at least with regard to population density and activity) as any major city. In stark contrast to the surrounding villages in the town and county, it is more densely populated than many American cities with exception to New York City, Long Beach, New York, Mount Vernon, New York, Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, San Francisco, California, and Jersey City and Paterson, New Jersey.
Hempstead consists of several areas or neighborhoods that are distinct in character. Some enclaves have a reputation of being the source of crime, some are known to be populated by indigent residents, others consist of middle income residents and homeowners, while others boast stately homes with relatively little incidence of criminal activity. The area has a mixture of homes and apartment complexes throughout the area. Originally, there were two known sides of town, "The Heights" (Hempstead Heights) and "The Hills" (Hempstead Hills). Hempstead Heights is the area east of Clinton St and west of Westbury Blvd. Over the years, several new regions, or "turfs" have informally been established, including "Terrace" (also known as "TA" or Terrace Ave.), "Parkside", "Trackside" and "Midway","D-Block".
There are over fifty religious institutions located in the village of Hempstead. They include a vast range of denominations, including, Roman Catholic,(Eastern Catholic) Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Orthodox, Methodist, Seventh-day Adventists, Baptist, Lutheran and other Christian churches, a Hindu temple, a Sikh Gurudwara, a Korean temple, a Hebrew Congregation and a host of smaller congregations.[dead link]
The Hempstead Village government is currently headed by mayor Don Ryan, who defeated three-term mayor Wayne Hall in the March 2017 election. Ryan ran under the "Hempstead Unity Party", along with LaMont Johnson and Charles Renfroe, who were elected as trustees, defeating the incumbents in those positions.
Hempstead includes several secondary schools:
- Sacred Heart Academy (all-girls')
- Hempstead High School was named Long Island's "High School of the Year" by Newsday in 1980. Former NFL wide receiver Rob Moore and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee John Mackey (who won Newsday's fall 1958 Thorp Award for outstanding Nassau County football player) are both graduates of Hempstead High School, as is former New York State Governor David Paterson. A beloved 1961 graduate of Hempstead High was also Joseph Blocker, Hempstead's "Athlete of the Millennium," who played pro football with the Montreal Alouettes in 1967 and 1968, and mentored young athletes including Julius "Dr. J." Erving.Mallozzi, Vincent M. (2009). Doc: The Rise and Rise of Julius Erving. New York: Wiley, 2009.</ref>
On February 4, 2009, the Hempstead school district officially renamed Ludlum Elementary School to Barack Obama Elementary School. Students at the school petitioned for the name change and the district approved the change unanimously in late November 2008. Obama Elementary is the first U.S. school to be named in honor of President Obama.
Prior to the American Revolution, education in Hempstead was not a government responsibility. Children were educated variously: at home by parents or tutors, or in the home of a teacher who received individual tuition payments, and at times by church leaders ministering to poorer residents; for example, Thomas Gildersleeve was appointed in 1712 by Rev. John Thomas, Rector of St. George’s Church 1704-1724, to teach Hempstead’s indigent children. Gildersleeve received 10 pounds yearly from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, a British organization. After the Revolutionary War and the formation of New York State, government funds gradually became available. In about 1850, a 25-room wooden structure on Prospect Street near Henry Street was erected for all grades, including African American children, who apparently were at that time taught in a separate section of the building from white students. In 1853, the Village of Hempstead incorporated; in 1863, the New York State Legislature created Town of Hempstead School District Number 1, which mainly encompassed the incorporated village, with the same five-member Board of Education structure as nowadays. In 1889, the 1850 building was replaced with a grand wood-frame building at the corner of Prospect Street and Henry Street that housed all grades. More schools appeared as the village grew. In 1906, Prospect School was completed; it was then called Public School No. 2, had wings added in 1918 and 1919, contained elementary-age students in racially integrated classrooms, and still stands on Peninsula Boulevard. The Washington Street School was built in 1911 (now Margaret Rhodes School, under reconstruction). The 1889 structure became the high school, not only for the Village of Hempstead, but for surrounding villages and hamlets in the Town of Hempstead. Fire damaged it irreparably on April 5, 1919. In 1922, under the leadership of Chairman of the School Board Dr. Charles W. Ludlum, a colonial-style replacement high school arose on Greenwich Street, and the site of the razed 1889 building became the high school athletic field. According to an article preserved in the archives of the Hempstead Public Library from an unnamed newspaper, “History of Education Was Traced by the Late Dr. Charles Ludlum,” by the time the 1922 structure was completed, Hempstead High School ranked “among the highest in the state.” Hempstead Village’s population reached 6,382 in 1920. It increased throughout the 1920s for several reasons: new businesses invested in the village, like the Hempstead Theatre and the Rivoli Theatre built by Salvatore Calderon (1922 and 1926), Franklin Shops at Franklin Street and Fulton Avenue (1926), and the New York Telephone building on Fulton Avenue; African Americans migrating to the North from the Jim Crow South found homes and established professional lives in the village; and the presence of military airfields directly to the east on the Hempstead Plain drew in military families. By 1930, Hempstead had six kindergarten-through-eighth-grade elementary schools plus the high school. Under Coach Joe Fay, head coach from the early 1920s through the 1940s, Hempstead High School’s sports program became one of the most renowned on Long Island, winning the Westfield Championship in girls’ basketball in 1925 and graduating a series of high-achieving sports figures (Mary Washburn won an Olympic silver medal for relay in 1928, and Leo Sexton won Olympic gold for shotput in 1932). Coach Fay began integrating the sports teams in 1932, when Zach Embry became the high school’s first black football player. Though predominantly white until the late 1950s, Hempstead High started graduating African American students as early as 1924, such as Vivian Schuyler Key, class of 1924, who became a famous visual artist of the Harlem Renaissance. By 1950, Hempstead’s population was up to 29,135 and still increasing. Hempstead’s African American contingent mostly lived south of Prospect Street (now Peninsula Boulevard) – the area known as The Hill. As a result, Prospect School was 93% black by 1948. Hempstead’s black residents brought a lawsuit of de facto discrimination. Thurgood Marshall took the suit to the New York State Supreme Court, which agreed in 1949 that de facto segregation was occurring. However, the Court did not agree with Thurgood Marshall’s proposal that Prospect School should be closed and its students distributed throughout the district to mix the races more evenly, so the problem remained unresolved. In December 1962, the Hempstead Citizens Commission for Education again claimed de facto segregation, fostered by District No. 1’s system of placing students in the school physically closest to them. Once more, the difficulty of redistribution became too thorny to resolve, especially since very young students would have to cross over busy Peninsula Boulevard for the redistribution to happen. Busing the students was not possible because the village is just under the square mileage required for New York State to fund busing internally. (Students who attend private schools or special education schools within 17 miles of the village, however, can choose to be bused.) Despite these controversies,Hempstead High School throughout the 1950s and early 1960s continued its record of excellence. Under Miss Imogen Boyle, by 1936 the Hempstead High School Band was noted by local papers, and Miss Boyle developed a 100-piece symphony orchestra that performed its 22nd annual winter concert “in Calkins Gymnasium of Hofstra College before an audience of 1,700 persons.” Sports continued to thrive, getting a fresh start in 1957 under Coach Ollie Mills, who fostered graduates like Rob Moore, John Mackey, and Joe Blocker (named above). The village’s current mayor, Don Ryan, graduated Hempstead High in 1959. During the 1950s, the population of Nassau County increased and other communities built their own high schools. Consequently, outside students no longer attended Hempstead High. During this same period, the opening of nearby malls and the 1961 closing of Mitchel Field, the last military airfield on the Hempstead Plain, sharply reduced village retail income. The village developed a master plan that asked for federal aid, which it received in return for accepting multiple apartment buildings for low-income and affordable housing. This resulted in a higher count of low-income students in the village, with consequent higher needs for services from the school district. During the 1960s, Ollie Mills’s brother Charles Mills became a teacher at Hempstead High, and the brothers helped to found and direct the still-extant Percy Jackson Youth Center at 463 South Franklin Street. David Paterson, a lawyer who served 2008–2010 as New York State Governor, attended Hempstead Public Schools during the 1960s because, despite his legal blindness, he was educated in regular classes rather than special ed, graduating in 1971. In 1960, a brochure (Hempstead Public Library archives) produced by Wilbur L. Lew, Insurance and Real Estate, 150 Henry Street, boasted that Hempstead had “one of the best teacher salary schedules in the country,” so the teacher roster was stable. The tax rate was “the lowest of any comparable district in Nassau County” because “Hempstead’s vast business district provides an assessed valuation that makes this splendid school program possible.” However, by 1965, the financial and demographic changes in the village began to affect the district. Superintendent of Schools Thomas D. Sheldon, with Robert C. Cody, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, produced a report for residents entitled “A Heritage of Pride/A Future of Challenge/A Decision . . . Now.” The brochure, which is in the Hempstead Public Library archives, stated that, even with the withdrawal of students from surrounding districts, the growth of the student population to 3,646 was causing overcrowding. The community decided to build a new high school on President Street for grades 9–12 and create a middle school for grades 6–8 in the 1922 high school structure. The new high school on President Street was under construction by the summer of 1970, but unfortunately, on July 24, 1970, the 1922 building on Greenwich Street burned irreparably; no one was injured because the building was empty at the time. The Hempstead High School class of 1970–1971 attended courses at off hours in the elementary school buildings, at Our Lady of Loretto Roman Catholic Church, and in St. George’s Church. Meanwhile, the current middle school opened soon after on the site of the 1922 structure, and around 1980 was named for Alverta B. Gray Schultz, a black Hempstead resident who ran Gray’s Employment Service and Gray’s Beauty School in the village, helped found the Hempstead NAACP chapter in 1932, and served as Adult Education Director in Hempstead during the 1970s. By 1971–1972, white flight and the growing proportion of low-income students left the district with a lowered reputation. Middle- and upper-class parents of every race started pulling their children from the Hempstead Public Schools and sending them to private schools, a trend that has persisted for the last fifty years. The district in 1971–1972 had 5,875 students. The village was 36% black, but the schools were 76% black, 50% of students were testing below grade level, the village had 6,000 welfare cases, and six-story apartment buildings were rising on Hempstead streets, adding to village density and to the student count. Despite its difficulties, the Village of Hempstead did (and does) serve students with an inclusiveness rejected in whiter, more segregated Long Island communities. Starting in 1957, children of immigrants who were not accepted into other communities’ schools were accepted into Hempstead’s, and the district had been hiring ESL teachers. The English-as-a-Second-Language contingent continued expanding, particularly Spanish-speaking, and bilingual teachers were hired. Charles Mills became Hempstead High’s first black principal in 1973; he retired from the school system in 1988. Ollie Mills taught business education and continued coaching. Current Mayor Don Ryan, who taught business at Hempstead High School for 33 years, was written up in Newsday’s LI Master Teachers series for his work with Hempstead High students and the village community. The article noted his efforts as year-round director for the Hempstead Neighborhood Youth Corps and as coach for the Salvation Army Biddy Basketball Team (which figured importantly in the career of Julius Erving). Starting in 1970, the challenges faced by the district have led to disunity in its successive school boards. Sharp disagreements over handling racial balance, adopting curriculum, choosing a superintendent, appointing principals, and handling multiple administrative issues have continued. The Latino population increased heavily during the 1980s, sparking tensions in the student body. Whereas African Americans became a racial majority in Hempstead during the 1970s with a small percentage of Hispanic residents, village demographics today contain a small percentage of whites and a roughly equal percentage of black to Hispanic, while the school population is about 67% Hispanic. The present (May 2019) school enrollment for the entire district stands at 7,935 students. At Hempstead High School, nearly 62% of students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch (mostly free), and 33% require special bilingual services. As of February 2018, Distinguished Educator Jack Bierwith was sent by the New York State Board of Regents to oversee improvement in the many matters for which the Hempstead School Board is responsible, and encouraging news has emerged. Hempstead High School has continued to have successes. Hempstead High graduate Darrick Heath was part of the 1990 U.S. Olympic handball team. Chorus director Rachel Blackburn led her students to a Gold Award in the 2017 New York State School Music Association Festival. Music director Benjamin Coleman led the Hempstead High School Marching Band to a Best Performance Group award in the March 2017 St. Patrick's Day Parade in Rockville Centre, NY. In recent years, individual students have earned scholarships to Ivy League schools.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 3.7 square miles (9.5 km²), all land. The village of Hempstead differs from the majority of Nassau County as its population density is about 15,000 people per square mile -- almost four times that of its neighbor on its northern border, Garden City, close to twice the density of Uniondale Uniondale NY, its direct neighbor to the east, and about twice the density of Queens County, New York.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 53,891 people, 15,234 households, and 10,945 families residing in the village. The racial makeup of the village was 21.9% White, 44.2% Hispanic, 48.3% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American, 1.4% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 22.8% from other races, and 5.0% from two or more races.
There were 16,034 households out of which 38.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.0% were married couples living together, 27.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.4% were non-families. 20.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.41 and the average family size was 3.76.
In the village, the population was spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 16.3% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 17.5% from 45 to 64, and 8.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.4 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $45,234 and the median income for a family was $46,675. Males had a median income of $29,493 versus $27,507 for females. The per capita income for the village was $15,735. About 14.4% of families and 17.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.7% of those under age 18 and 16.9% of those age 65 or over.
The Village of Hempstead is protected by the firefighters of the Hempstead Fire Department.The HFD currently operates out of 6 Fire Stations, located throughout the village, and 10 fire companies(Engine 1, Engine 2, Engine 3, Engine 4, Engine 5, Truck 1, Ladder 2, Hose 1, Hose 2, Hose 3). The HFD maintains a fire apparatus fleet of 8 Engines, 2 Trucks, 1 Rescue, and numerous other special, support, and reserve units. The HFD is part of Nassau County's Fire Department's 7th Battalion. The Hempstead Fire Department is currently commanded by a Chief of Department, Roger P. Faulk, and 3 Assistant Chiefs.
Fire station locations and apparatus
|Engine Company||Truck Company||Special Unit||Command Unit||Address||Neighborhood|
|Engine 721, Engine 723||Ambulance 7285A||142 Jerusalem Ave.||Jerusalem Avenue|
|Engine 722||Truck 7211||Ambulance 7285||Chief 7280, Chief 7281, Chief 7282, Chief 7283||75 Clinton St.||Downtown|
|Engine 724||Rescue 7284||130 Jackson St.||Victory|
|Engine 725||Floodlight 7287||108 Front St.||West End|
|Engine 726, Engine 728||10 Holly Ave.||East End|
|Engine 727||Truck 7212||59 Long Beach Rd.||South Side|
Points of interest
- Hofstra University
- Hofstra University Arboretum
- Hempstead Bus Terminal
- Nassau County African American Museum
- St. George's Episcopal Church
- Christ's First Presbyterian Church – First Presbyterian church established in the US
The Hempstead Transit Center is one of the largest hubs in Nassau County. It serves as the terminus of the Long Island Rail Road's Hempstead Branch, and is served by a number of Nassau Inter-County Express routes.
- N6: Hempstead – Jamaica, Queens
- N6X: Nassau Community College – Jamaica, Queens (Express Service)
- N15: Roosevelt Field Mall – Long Beach
- N16: Roosevelt Field Mall – Rockville Centre
- N27: Hempstead – Glen Cove
- N31: Hempstead – Far Rockaway, Queens via West Broadway
- N32: Hempstead – Far Rockaway, Queens via Broadway
- N35: Westbury – Baldwin Harbor
- N40: Mineola – Freeport via North Main Street
- N41: Mineola – Freeport via Babylon Turnpike
- N43: Freeport – Roosevelt Field Mall
- N48: Hempstead – Hicksville via Carmans Road
- N49: Hempstead – Hicksville via Newbridge Road
- N54: Hempstead – Sunrise Mall via Jerusalem Ave / Washington Ave
- N55: Hempstead – Sunrise Mall via Jerusalem Ave / Broadway
- N70: Hempstead – SUNY Farmingdale
- N71: Hempstead – Sunrise Mall
- N72: Hempstead – East Farmingdale
Residents (native or lived) about whom an article exists, by date of birth:
- Hykiem Coney (1982 – 2006), anti-gang activist
- Samuel L. Mitchill (1764–1831), physician, naturalist and politic; born in Hempstead
- Walt Whitman (1819–1892; resident 1836–1838), poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist
- William S. Hofstra (1861–1932), entrepreneur
- Christopher Morley (1890–1957; resident during the 1910s), journalist, novelist, essayist, and poet
- Frank Field (b. 1923), television meteorologist
- Walter Hudson (1944–1991; life resident), 4th most obese human, Guinness World Record for the largest waist
- Julius Erving (born 1950), basketball star, lived in the village of Hempstead as a child for at least two or three years from around 1953 to 1955 or 1956
- Sheryl Lee Ralph (born 1956), actress and singer
- Eric "Vietnam" Sadler (born 1960; native 1960-1987, music producer, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Slick Rick, Bell Biv Devoe, Vanessa Williams, etc.)
- Rob Moore (born 1968; native), NFL football player
- Trevor Tahim "Busta Rhymes" Smith, Jr. (born 1972), resident, rapper, producer and actor
- Prodigy (1974–2017; native), member of hip-hop duo Mobb Deep
- Craig "Speedy" Claxton (born 1978; native), NBA basketball player
- Tavorris Bell (born 1978), former Harlem Globetrotter
- Scott Lipsky (born 1981), tennis player
- A+ (born 1982; native and childhood), rapper, 1999 album Hempstead High
The Hempstead Wall of Fame
The 2005 Wall of Fame Inductees are:
Ray Heatherton - the Merry Mailman
David Bythewood, Attorney, Grammy nominee and former Hempstead Public Schools Board of Education
The 2009 Wall of Fame Inductees are:
The Hempstead Wall of Fame is located in Kennedy Park off of Greenwich Street in Hempstead.
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- “Honors for an Honorable Man,” Newsday, December 23, 2006.
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- “200 Aliens in Hempstead Schools,” by Henry Gilgoff, Newsday, September 18, 1970
- “High School Principal Appointed in Hempstead,” by Mary Vespa, Newsday, August 31, 1973
- “Making Students His Family,” by Sylvia Carter, Newsday, May 16, 1975
- “Crisis High,” by Dele Olojede and Suzanne Bilello, Newsday, June 16, 1991.
- “Adviser’s 1-Year Review,” by Keshia Clukey, Newsday, December 7, 2018
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-  Archived May 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Personal knowledge
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