Riverhead (town), New York

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"Riverhead, New York" redirects here. For the smaller subdivision which includes the Riverhead downtown area, see Riverhead (CDP), New York.
Riverhead, New York
Town of Riverhead
Riverhead, New York is located in New York
Riverhead, New York
Riverhead, New York
Coordinates: 40°55′42″N 72°39′44″W / 40.92833°N 72.66222°W / 40.92833; -72.66222Coordinates: 40°55′42″N 72°39′44″W / 40.92833°N 72.66222°W / 40.92833; -72.66222
Country United States
State New York
County Suffolk
 • Type Civil Township
 • Supervisor Sean W. Walter (C)[1]
 • Total 201.3 sq mi (521.3 km2)
 • Land 67.4 sq mi (174.5 km2)
 • Water 133.9 sq mi (346.8 km2)
Elevation 13 ft (4 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 33,506
 • Density 170/sq mi (64/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 11901
Area code(s) 631
GNIS feature ID 0962565
Website www.townofriverheadny.gov

Riverhead is a town within Suffolk County, New York, on the north shore of Long Island. As of the 2010 census, the population was 33,506. The town rests on the mouth of the Peconic River, from which it derives its name. Since 1727, Riverhead has been the county seat of Suffolk County. The smaller hamlet of Riverhead lies within it, and is the town’s principal economic center. The town is 166 miles (267 km) southwest of Boston via the Orient Point-New London Ferry, and is 76 miles (123 km) northeast of New York City.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the town saw an influx of Polish immigrants.[2] This led to the creation of Polish Town, where the popular Polish Town Fair is held annually.[3]

Riverhead is the agricultural apex of Long Island, with 20,000 of the 35,000 acres of the island’s farmland located within the town. The town is also home to four separate beaches which are open year round. Iron Pier, Wading River, and Reeves Beach each offer boating access for residents and visitors alike.[2]


European colonists purchased the 'Southold land' from the local Algonquian-speaking Native Americans and Shinnecock Indian Nation in 1649. An additional portion was purchased from Col. William Smith and divided among settlers in 1742.

The town of Riverhead was created in 1792 as part of new jurisdictions after the American Revolution. The New York State Legislature divided it from the town of Southold, New York, which lies to the north and east. Riverhead was separated at the behest of its inhabitants, who "represented to the Legislature that their town is so long that it is very inconvenient for them [people of western regions of Southold] to attend at [sic] town meetings, and also to transact the other necessary business of the said town, and have prayed that the same may be divided into two towns". The poor western sections of Southold, with no harbor and little commerce, were thus divided. On March 13, 1792, the Legislature passed a bill splitting off this section under the name River Head. The new enclave's first town meeting was scheduled to be held April 3, 1792.[4]

River Head was named the county seat of Suffolk County (called "county town" at the time), and its name was later combined as Riverhead.

By 1902, its approximate population was 2,500.[4]


The north town line is delineated by Long Island Sound with Connecticut on the opposite shore. The east town line is the border of the town of Southold. The town is partly on the North Fork of the county. The eastern terminus of the Long Island Expressway is in Riverhead.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 201.3 square miles (521 km2), of which 67.4 square miles (175 km2) is land and 133.9 square miles (347 km2), or 66.53%, is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 1,498
1810 1,711 14.2%
1820 1,857 8.5%
1830 2,016 8.6%
1840 2,449 21.5%
1850 2,540 3.7%
1860 3,044 19.8%
1870 3,461 13.7%
1880 3,939 13.8%
1890 4,010 1.8%
1900 4,503 12.3%
1910 5,345 18.7%
1920 5,753 7.6%
1930 7,956 38.3%
1940 8,922 12.1%
1950 9,973 11.8%
1960 14,519 45.6%
1970 18,909 30.2%
1980 20,243 7.1%
1990 23,011 13.7%
2000 27,680 20.3%
2010 33,506 21.0%
Est. 2014 33,777 [5] 0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]

As of the census[7] of 2010, there were 33,506 people and 15,424 households residing in the town. The population density was 497.1 people per square mile (192.0/km²).

As of the census[7] of 2000, There were 10,749 households out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.0% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.2% were non-families. 26.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.01.

As of the census[7] of 2010, in the town the population was spread out with 20.4% under the age of 18, 2.2% from 18 to 20, 6.1% from 20 to 24, 10.5% from 25 to 34, 20.6% from 35 to 49, 21.8% from 49 to 64, and 19.4% who were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females there were 99.0 males.

As of the census[7] of 2000, the median income for a household in the town was $52,195, and the median income for a family was $60,939. Males had a median income of $40,855 versus $32,288 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,647. About 15.8% of families and 17.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.7% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.

Government and politics[edit]

Flag of the Town of Riverhead flying at Grumman Memorial Park.

Riverhead has a town council government. There is an elected Town Supervisor who is elected by the entire town, and four "at large" Town Council seats.


The Riverhead newspaper The News-Review, owned by Times-Review Newspapers as of at least 2010, was founded in 1868. Its parent company also owns The Suffolk Times, Shelter Island Reporter, The North Shore Sun, and The Wine Press.[8]

In 2010, an online-only hyperlocal news website began in Riverhead called RiverheadLOCAL.com. Since then, the website's parent company, East End Local Media Corp., has expanded to the neighboring town of Southold with SoutholdLOCAL.com.[9]

Radio stations WFTU, WRCN-FM and WRIV are licensed to Riverhead. Independent television station WLNY-TV (channel 55) is also licensed to Riverhead and owned by the CBS Corporation, with most operations being run from the CBS Broadcast Center in Manhattan with WCBS-TV.

Communities and locations[edit]

Hamlets (unincorporated)[edit]

Other communities[edit]

  • Centerville
  • Polishtown
  • Reeves Park
  • Roanoke
  • South Jamesport
  • Sweyze

State parks[edit]


Railroad lines[edit]

The Long Island Rail Road's Main Line is the sole line within the Town of Riverhead. The only active station is Riverhead, which is also used as the western terminus of the Railroad Museum of Long Island.

Bus service[edit]

The Town of Riverhead is served primarily by Suffolk County Transit bus routes.

Major roads[edit]


The town of Riverhead contains a minor private-use airport known as the Calverton Executive Airpark, originally the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant, Calverton.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Civiletti, Denise (4 November 2015). "Walter defeats Giglio and Coates; Hubbard, Wooten win board seats". Riverhead Local. Retrieved 20 December 2015. Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, who was turned away by his own party in a squeaker of a primary election in September, won re-election Tuesday running alone on the Conservative line. 
  2. ^ a b "Town of Riverhead". TownOfRiverheadNY.org. Town of Riverhead, New York. 
  3. ^ "Polish Town Fair". PolishTownCivicAssociation.org. Polish Town Civic Association. 
  4. ^ a b Ross, Peter. River Head: A History of Long Island: From its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time (Lewis Publishing: New York, 1902)
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ The News-Review
  9. ^ "About this site". RiverheadLOCAL.com. East End Local Media Corp. 


External links[edit]