Riverhead (town), New York

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Riverhead, New York
Town of Riverhead
Riverhead, New York is located in Long Island
Riverhead, New York
Riverhead, New York
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
CountryUnited States
StateNew York
 • TypeCivil Township
 • SupervisorYvette Aguiar (www.townofriverheadny.gov)
 • Total201.27 sq mi (521.28 km2)
 • Land67.43 sq mi (174.63 km2)
 • Water133.84 sq mi (346.65 km2)
13 ft (4 m)
 • Total33,469
 • Estimate 
 • Density498.87/sq mi (192.62/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)631
FIPS code36-103-61984
GNIS feature ID0962565

Riverhead is a town within Suffolk County, New York, on the north shore of Long Island. Since 1727, Riverhead has been the county seat of Suffolk County,[3] though most county offices are in Hauppauge.[4] 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. 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.[5] This led to the creation of Polish Town, a section of the Town and County seat where the popular Polish Town Fair is held annually.[6]

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.[5]


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.[7]

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

By 1902, its approximate population was 2,500.[7]


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.
2019 (est.)33,469[8]−0.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]

As of the census[10] of 2010, there were 13,506 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[10] 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[10] 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[10] 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.

Notable people[edit]

  • Danny Burawa (born 1988), major league baseball pitcher.
  • Joseph McCrum Belford (August 5, 1852 - May 3, 1917) - Born in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from New York- 1st. District, 1897 - 1899
  • Ed Danowski (September 30, 1911 - February 1, 1997) - Quarterback and Halfback in the NFL, Played for the New York Giants, 1934-1938, 1941. Quarterbacked Giants when they won the 1934 & 1938 NFL Championship Games.
  • Garfield M. Langhorn (September 10, 1948 - January 15, 1969) - was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.
  • Scott Merserau (April 8, 1965) - Defensive end with the New York Jets, 1987-1993.
  • Otis Grey Pike (August 31, 1921 - January 20, 2014) - Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from New York - 1st. District, 1961 - 1979
  • Anne C. Richard (born 1960) - Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration from 2012 to 2017.
  • Alexander M. Zaleski (June 24, 1906 - May 16, 1975)- Born in Laurel, NY to Anthony and Bertha (Janulewicz) Zaleski. Served as Roman Catholic Bishop of Lansing from 1965 until 1975.

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 Town Supervisor term is for two years and four years for council seats. From 1956 to 1975, the Town Council consisted of the Town Supervisor, two Town Council members and two Justices of the Peace. Prior to 1956, the Town Council consisted of the Town Supervisor and four Justices of the Peace. As of 2016, there is a 12 year term limit for Town Council members and the Town Supervisor. The Town Supervisor term of office is for two years. Members of the board cannot serve 12 consecutive years. That means that they could take a break after serving their 12 years and then run for office once again.[11][12]


The Riverhead newspaper Riverhead News-Review, dates back to 1950, when the Harry Lee Publishing Co. Inc, publishers of The County Review (1903–1950), purchased The Riverhead News (1868–1950) and consolidated the two newspapers as The News-Review.[13] Times/Review Newspapers Corp. purchased The News-Review and The Suffolk Times, based in Greenport, in 1977.

The news website RiverheadLOCAL began publication in 2010.[14] It is owned by East End Local Media Corp., an independent company based in Riverhead.

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 Cenenter 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 and Hampton Jitney 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. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  2. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "Suffolk County Government". Suffolk County, New York. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Town of Riverhead". TownOfRiverheadNY.org. Town of Riverhead, New York.
  6. ^ "Polish Town Fair". Polish Town Civic Association.
  7. ^ a b Ross, Peter. River Head: A History of Long Island: From its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time (Lewis Publishing: New York, 1902)
  8. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  11. ^ https://riverheadnewsreview.timesreview.com/2016/04/73146/riverhead-town-board-approves-term-limits-dunleavy-now-termed-out/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Town board rejects extending supervisor's term". Newsday. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  13. ^ "Riverhead News, County Review to Merge" (PDF). The County Review. July 13, 1950. Retrieved May 29, 2010.
  14. ^ "RiverheadLOCAL: About Us". Retrieved May 29, 2019.


External links[edit]