Hog Island (New York)

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For other uses, see Hog Island (disambiguation).
Map of Hog Island, 1873

Hog Island was the name of two islands near Long Island, New York until the 1890s. One, shown on the map at right, is the present day Barnum Island, part of Island Park, New York. The other was a mile-long (1600 m) barrier island that existed to the south of Rockaway Beach before being destroyed by the 1893 New York hurricane.


The Island Park "Hog Island" was used by the Native Americans to raise pigs, once they had been introduced by Europeans and left to run feral. It later became a small farming area. Reports suggest that it began to emerge from the ocean only during the Civil War period.[1] In 1874 Sarah Ann Baldwin Barnum (the wife of Peter Crosby Barnum, a clothier, not P.T. Barnum of circus fame) outwitted a syndicate and purchased Barnum Island for use as an alms house. She had, just days before a deadline, crossed to the island and purchased the existing farm for $13,360 of her own money, and re-sold it to the county (then Queens County, of which at the time the present-day Nassau County was a part) for the same amount. This island still exists today as part of both the Village of Island Park and the Town of Hempstead.[2] The island is believed to have hosted a number of seafront resorts.[1]

On the night of August 23, 1893, the 1893 New York hurricane, a devastating Category 2 hurricane made landfall. By the following morning, August 24, Hog Island had mostly disappeared. During the same hurricane, Coney Island reported 30 foot (9 m) waves which came as far as 200 yards (180 m) inland, destroying the elevated railroad. The East River rose above the sea wall in the Astoria district. Many residents in City of Brooklyn reported waist-high water in the streets.[3] Some resettlement occurred, but Hog Island is believed to have submerged entirely in 1902.[1]

In the mid-1990s, after the nor'easters of December 1992 and March 1993 heavily damaged the coast of Rockaway, the Army Corps of Engineers began rebuilding the beaches using dredges close to shore.[4]

Professor Nicholas Coch of Queens College, along with local undergraduate students, was observing the replenishing of the beaches along Rockaway when they noticed peculiar items along the coast. The group uncovered hundreds of different artifacts including whiskey bottles, beer mugs, and even a hurricane lamp. The majority of the items were dated around the late 19th century. Curious about their findings, the group then started to unravel the history of Hog Island.[5][6]


The city of New York has averaged a major hurricane approximately every 70 to 80 years throughout its history. It was predicted in 2005 that if the city were to be directly hit by another hurricane of the intensity of the one in 1893, which destroyed Hog Island, the damage was likely to be enormous.[5] In 2012, the effects of Hurricane Sandy in New York were very destructive but was not a worst case scenario, especially in terms of wind. A landfalling Category 3 or higher would prove to be far more destructive.


  1. ^ a b c Onishi, Norimitsu (March 18, 1997). "Queens Spit Tried to Be a Resort but Sank in a Hurricane". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  2. ^ Newsday[dead link]
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "New York City Hurricane". Mega Disasters. Season 1. Episode 3. History. 
  5. ^ a b "The Big One". New York Press. July 27, 2005. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  6. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (19 March 1997). "Queens Spit Tried to Be a Resort but Sank in a Hurricane". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 November 2012.