NY Senate District 6
Welcome to my community guide for NY's Sixth Senate District. Here you can learn about each of the communities.
West Hempstead Read More
The hamlet of West Hempstead was once a dense woodland used by the Algonquin Native Americans for a gathering place because of its central location. Close to three Long Island Rail Road lines and with its own exit on the Southern State Parkway, West Hempstead’s draw as a centralized location has always attracted a diverse group of people.
In the fall of 1643, the Rev. Robert Fordham and John Carman crossed Long Island Sound by rowboat to negotiate with the local Indians for land which they desired to build a new community. It is said that the settlers paid a mere $100 for the 64,000 acre tract of land that is now called West Hempstead.
Historians claim West Hempstead got its name from the Long Island Rail Road. In 1891, the Rail Road built a station on Hempstead Turnpike west of Hempstead Village. The train station was originally called “West of Hempstead” and eventually became the hamlet’s namesake. It was during this time that inventor and aviator Orville Wright lived here.
Over the years, West Hempstead has been visited by some of history’s great leaders including President George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt and Walt Whitman. During the 1830s, poet Walt Whitman was the schoolmaster of the Trimming Square school district for three months. This area was located at the meeting point of Franklin Square, Garden City South and West Hempstead.
Wantagh Read More
The hamlet of Wantagh was inhabited by the Merokee tribe of the Metoac in the mid 1600s. The Merokee were part of the greater Montauk tribe that loosely ruled Long Island's Native Americans. The hamlet was named after Chief Wantagh who was the leader of the Merokee tribe and who later became the chief of the Montauk tribe.
Historians claim that Wantagh was originally known as Jerusalem which is why the creek running north and south through Wantagh was called the Jerusalem River. The first post office was built in 1837, for Jerusalem, although mail service began around 1780. As part of a 5-day tour of Long Island, George Washington rode through Jerusalem on April 21, 1790. A commemorative plaque honoring President Washington’s trip is displayed on Hempstead Turnpike.
Today’s Wantagh started to see significant growth in the 1920s. First came Wantagh Parkway in 1927 which is Long Island’s oldest parkway. Next came Sunrise Highway in 1929 and with the building of hotels along it, Wantagh soon became known as a resort and fishing area. Later that year, the Jones Beach Causeway opened and Wantagh was infamously known as “the gateway to Jones Beach.” With six miles of beautiful beachfront, this New York State Park is the most popular beach on the East Coast with over six million visitors annually.
Uniondale Read More
Uniondale, known before 1853 as Tutle Hook, has been the site of rich military history. It's story dates back to the Revolution when Uniondale served as an enlistment center and takes us through World War II with the development of an Army Air Force Base in 1961. The interim has seen an infantry training center during the War of 1812, a Civil War Camp, a Spanish American War Camp, a World War I camp and the establishment of Mitchel Field which served as an Army Air Corps base during World War II.
The establishment of Mitchel Field led to the suburbanization of Uniondale. Following World War II, many members of the military were based at Mitchel Field and sought to establish a home in the nearby area. Mitchel Field was also an employment opportunity for civilians, which contributed to the formation of a community.
The closing of Mitchel Field in 1961 left a large area for subsequent commercial development. Parts of Hofstra University, Nassau Community College, Nassau Coliseum, and many office buildings now occupy the site where Mitchel Field had previously been.
Uniondale has more recently served as a major sports center on Long Island. Nassau Coliseum is currently home to The New York Islanders hockey team and housed The New York Nets basketball team between 1968 and 1977. The Jets training facility, with the "bubble" for practicing in inclement weather, is no longer used by the Jets; Hofstra will now devote those buildings for the classrooms of its new Medical School.
Seaford Read More
The original settlers of Seaford were the Marsapeaques, a Native American tribe. They named the area "Great Water Land".
With the arrival of Captain John Seaman, a native of Seaford, England, Jerusalem South was created which was eventually to become Seaford and also commonly referred to as Seaman's Neck.
During the 19th century as villages across Long Island began to flourish due to the creation of the Long Island Rail Road, Jerusalem South seemed unaffected. In 1868, the town was renamed to its current name of Seaford, to honor Captain Seaman's home town in England. During this time, Seaford remained an agriculturally developed area. Eventually, the town acquired a post office, a church, and a single-room school, which would later become the first Seaford Fire Department building. Today this building houses the Seaford Historical Museum.
When Sunrise Highway was established in 1929, Seaford began to see an influx of inhabitants. Before 1929, Seaford had approximately 1,200 citizens; within 25 years this number tripled.
Seaford became popular for hunting and fishing and so came the development of two hotels along Merrick Road – the Sportsman's Hotel and the Powell Hotel. Many celebrities visited the hotels including New York Yankees Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, as well as brewery owner Jake Rupert.
Salisbury Read More
Historians say the name Salisbury originated from English colonists because the area resembled the Salisbury Plains in England, which were named after the English Earl of Salisbury.
The Salisbury area encompasses the northwest corner of East Meadow. The heart of residential Salisbury lies in the triangle formed by Carman Ave., Salisbury Drive, and Stewart Ave.
This area, south of Old Country Road, owes much of its history to the Ladenburg family, who turned the area into the Meadow Brook Park Colony. The Colony consisted of large estates and soon became a center for horse breeding and showing. The Ladenburg estate was later sub-divided and developed by various builders.
The area known as Salisbury is largely a product of the post-World War II building boom in Nassau County, during the late 1940’s and very early 1950’s. While many know William Levitt was responsible for the development of Levittown, few realize he was also the primary developer of Salisbury. Approximately 40% of residential Salisbury is comprised of Levitt homes. As Levitt and his sons began to develop the area into one of America’s first suburbs, the area of the former Ladenburg estate became the heart of Salisbury.
Generations of residents have also referred to this area as Bowling Green. As the area developed, and schools were built, the names Salisbury and Bowling Green were given to two of the schools serving the northwestern part of East Meadow, known today as Salisbury.
Plainedge Read More
Plainedge is a hamlet within the Town of Oyster Bay located north of North Massapequa and west of South Farmingdale. It is 1.4 square miles in area and has a population of about 8,575 (Jan. 1999).
The community was given its name around 1663 because of its treeless landscape. During the mid-1800s, Plainedge was known to have had one of the largest turkey farms on Long Island and was nicknamed, "Turkeyville."
Cranberries were also popular in the area, as marshlands located north of Jerusalem Avenue and west of Hicksville Road provided favorable growing conditions for the crop. Today, a bustling business area is located at Route 107 and Jerusalem Avenue, and offers shopping and restaurants
The community is covered by the Plainedge School District, which also welcomes students from Levittown, Farmingdale and Bethpage. The district has a library and offers a host of sporting, academic and art programs both as part of and separate from its regular curriculum.
Old Bethpage Read More
In 1695, Thomas Powell purchased about 10,000 acres from local Indian tribes, including the Marsapeque, Matinecoc, and Sacatogue, for 140 English pounds. This land, included present day Bethpage as well as Old Bethpage and is known as the Bethpage Purchase.
In 1932, under the administration of Long Island State Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, Bethpage State Park was opened. The park and its 1,400 acres is almost entirely within the hamlet of Old Bethpage.
In 1936, the adjacent hamlet of Central Park changed its name to Bethpage. Following this name change, the hamlet originally called Bethpage resisted suggestions that it merge with the new Bethpage. The hamlet finally received approval from the post office to change its name to Old Bethpage although it did not have its own post office until 1965. Bethpage State Park retained its name leading some to erroneously believe that the park is located mainly in Bethpage.
Old Bethpage was home to railroad tycoon Benjamin F. Yoakum and the Taliaferro Estate which is currently the Nassau County Office Complex. In addition to Bethpage State Park, which has five golf courses including the famous Black Course, the hamlet is the home to the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, an authentic re-creation of a mid-19th century Long Island village. The 209-acre village includes a variety of homes, farms and businesses.
Massapequa Read More
The Massapequas have a star-studded history. They served as the childhood home to comedian Jerry Seinfeld and the Baldwin brothers. Massapequa received its name from the Marsapeague Native American tribe. The name, Massapequa, means "Great Water Lane," which accurately reflects its south shore location. The first non-indian settlers of Massapequa were Thomas Jones and his wife, Freelove. They owned approximately 6,000 acres purchased by Freelove's father, John Townsend including the sandbar which is now called Jones Beach. The land was purchased from a Massapequan sachem, Tackapousha.
Massapequa served as a resort, attracting such notables to its lavish Vanderwater Hotel as President Chester A. Arthur, and Civil War General "Fighting Joe" Hooker. In the 1920s, much of Massapequa's land was being purchased by developers to satisfy a growing need for housing. During this time Annie Oakley and Will Rogers rented houses in the Massapequa area. This suburban development has since been referred to by national leaders as quintessential suburban America.
The site which now houses Sunrise Mall, used to host Frank Buck's Jungle Camp. Frank Buck would collect animals for zoos and circuses until he decided to open an attraction of his own in Massapequa. This Jungle Camp displayed all kinds of animals, including elephants, lions and other exotic animals. The main attraction was the 75-foot Monkey Mountain. It was a mini-island surrounded by a mote, which housed 500 rhesus monkeys until August 22, 1935, when a workman left a plank over the moat and 150 monkeys escaped and scattered all over Long Island.
Malverne Read More
Malverne was originally settled by the Rockaway Indians with the current Ocean Avenue serving as an Indian path. During the 1790’s, the Cornwell family first settled here and began farming the area.
The spelling of the name was originally Malvern, minus the “e”, but when the Long Island Rail Road started service here they spelled the name Malverne, with the "e". Although efforts were made to fix the spelling error, the village changed the name to Malverne which indicated how vital rail service was to villages across the country and how influential their presence was felt.
Malverne’s growth has been credited to two major events – the selling of farm land for development and the Long Island Rail Road. Currently, there are over 3,000 homes in the village and many residents commute to New York City via the two Long Island Rail Road stations in the village. These are the Malverne and Westwood stations which are both located on the West Hempstead Branch.
Malverne was home to the original Brown Derby restaurant, which was a favorite place of many vaudevillians. This restaurant precipitated the opening of the more famous Brown Derby in Los Angeles, CA.
A very popular attraction is The Lighting of Malverne which attracts thousands of people from the village and the surrounding communities. This kickoff to the holiday season is held annually on the first Saturday of December. The entire business district remains dark until the Mayor and the village’s board flip a switch which turns on all of the district’s holiday lighting.
Levittown Read More
Initially part of the Hempstead Plains, Levittown became a nationally recognized symbol of post World War II suburban development. The Hempstead Plains became the Hempstead settlement in 1644 and later, Nassau County. In the 1930's, potato farms were devastated by the golden nematode. This devastation, however, offered the Levitt family the opportunity to purchase large tracts of land at low cost. Following World War II, there was an urgent need for housing resulting from the return of servicemen/women and the baby boom. This demand, in combination with the cheap farmland and experience in construction throughout the Depression Era, provided the building opportunity to Levitt and Sons.
Young William Levitt devised a plan to produce homes for veterans on affordable plots of land and enlisted the help of his father and brother in this endeavor. Levitt homes became easily available to its prospective buyers, since veterans had the opportunity to take low-interest, insured GI Loans. Levittown expanded drastically. Two days after the announcement of the plan to build, half of the real estate had already been rented. The continued demand for housing in Levittown caused Levitt and Sons to expand their 2,000 home plan to 6,000 homes. Levittown continues to expand today as remodeling and expanding efforts continue to individualize each home.
Lakeview Read More
The Dutch were the first European inhabitants in this region. In the mid 17th century, groups of New Englanders arrived in this area that was covered with swamps and streams. The area was not part of the Hempstead Plains and soon became noted for its lakes. In the 1800s, William Oliver built a gristmill called “Oliver’s Eagle Flour Mill” which was later removed in 1873 to make way for a reservoir for Brooklyn. However, its storage basin soon flooded the area including Eagle Avenue and with Brooklyn’s adoption as part of New York City, the Hempstead Reservoir was abandoned as a primary source for water.
In the 1880s, a group of Brooklyn businessmen formed the Unit Fishing Club and arranged freshwater fishing trips to Smith’s Pond that was once a tributary of the Brooklyn water system. At the time Lakeview, did not yet have train service until 1892, but the ponds for fishing were not too far to walk from the Hempstead or Pearsall's Corner train stations.
According to some sources, Lakeview was initially known as Skodic, after a local farmer and then later the name was changed to Woodfield. Following that came a series of overlapping areas such as Norwood (West Hempstead) and Hempstead Gardens, however the arrival of the railroad station in 1892 was named Lakeview became so popular the name stuck. Today, Lakeview is a hamlet (and census-designated place) in the Town of Hempstead, NY.
Island Trees Read More
The story of Island Trees begins with the story of the Hempstead Plains, sixty thousand acres of flat, treeless grasslands that was once considered the largest prairie in the eastern United States. It was here, in 1644, that a group of English colonists established Hempstead, the first permanent settlement in what later became Nassau County. Subsequently, through various grants and land deals, Hempstead was divided into territories, one of which became known as Island Trees, likely because it contained a tall group of pine trees that, from a distance, resembled an island unto itself.
The few early residents of Island Trees were mainly farmers of English descent. When the Long Island Rail Road extended its tracks from Jamaica to Hicksville in 1836, the Island Trees farmers found themselves with a new, more convenient means of transporting their goods to market - and for receiving shipments of feed and fertilizer. This made the area surrounding Hicksville highly attractive to German land developers, who soon purchased large parcels of land in the railroad's vicinity, which included Island Trees. Over the next several decades, small villages of immigrants, most from Germany, sprouted up around the area.
Island Trees' main cash crops in the late 1800s were cabbage and cucumbers, until a severe blight hit the area in 1912 and farmers shifted their attention to potato farming. Island Trees soon became the center of potato farming in Nassau County. But then, in the mid 1930s, farmers in the area suddenly began to experience serious potato crop damage brought on by a dreaded critter called the golden nematode. It was at the onset of this crisis that Abraham Levitt and his sons, Alfred and William, purchased an abandoned potato field in Island Trees at a "greatly reduced price."
Hicksville Read More
The hamlet of Hicksville was purchased by the Hicks family in 1834. Some say the community was named after Valentine Hicks, an eventual president of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). Others agree that it was named for his father-in-law Elias Hicks, the famous abolitionist and Quaker preacher.
In 1837, Hicksville became a station stop on the LIRR and a depot for produce, particularly cucumbers, for a Heinz Company plant. After a blight destroyed the cucumber crops, the farmers grew potatoes. Following World War II, it was turned into a bustling New York City suburb in the building boom.
Famous singer-songwriter Billy Joel as well as award winning author Gary D. Schmidt both grew up in Hicksville. The Hicksville Chamber of Commerce along with local community businesses work together to help keep Hicksville a great place to live, work and raise a family. In addition, the Hicksville Public Library which was founded in 1926 is one of the largest libraries in Nassau County and preserves town history via images and rare documents.
Hempstead Read More
Hempstead gained its reputation as “The Hub” as a result of its central role in the lives of Long Islanders. As the oldest community in Nassau, it became the pivotal location for all public transportation, and the ultimate location for shoppers. The community sprang up on this location because the first English settlers were able to first establish the area because nearby converging streams created fertile land and accessible water. The location of the settlement now houses St. George’s Church facing Front Street.
A convention was called in Hempstead during 1665 in order to write a new code of law under the new governor Richard Nicolls. During the Revolution, Hempstead residents strongly protested “taxation without representation”. This sentiment was emphasized when the convention was not to rewrite law, but to sign the duke’s previously established law.
It is of interest that although the Village had its own volunteer fire department since 1832, any male who refused to assist in putting out a fire would incur a fine of $3. During the late 1800's and early 1900's, the Village of Hempstead served as a summer home for many of America’s affluent. Some notables include August Belmont, Arthur Brisbane, Elliott Roosevelt (father of future first lady Eleanor), and William K. Vanderbilt II.
Garden City South Read More
Garden City South is a hamlet located between Garden City, Franklin Square and West Hempstead. This charming community includes wide streets and plenty of trees. The residents have access to a commercial district along Nassau Boulevard which includes retail shopping, a variety of restaurants and other establishments. The hamlet also provides a gateway to major highways and is near three Long Island Railroad train stations – Nassau Boulevard, Merillon Avenue and Garden City.
The Franklin Square Union Free School District serves the children of Garden City South from Kindergarten through 6th Grade. The students complete their secondary educational programs in the Sewanhaka Central High School District with most children attending the H. Frank Carey High School located in Franklin Square.
A popular attraction is the Garden City South Community Park which has tennis and basketball courts, a playground, game tables, picnic tables, horseshoes and shuffleboard. Residents also have access to pools located in Echo Park in West Hempstead and Rath Park in Franklin Square.
The nearby village of Garden City offers museums and country clubs.
Garden City Read More
Garden City was once a significant portion of the expansive Hempstead Plains. This land became available for sale in 1867, giving Charles Harvey the opportunity to purchase the land for $42 an acre. Alexander T. Stewart also had plans for the Hempstead land, bidding $55 per acre in the hopes of creating his dream, a planned community. Although Harvey ultimately outbid Stewart by raising his offer to $56, his plans for the land remained secretive, causing rumors to spread that he intended to build a cemetery or jail. Hempstead residents voted 1,077 to 52 in favor of accepting Stewart’s bid regardless of the dollar loss per acre because of his ambition to create one of the nation’s first planned communities.
Stewart decided to name his community “Garden City” after Chicago’s informal nickname. The legacy of the name, however, came about after Stewart died and the Garden City Corp. took control of its growth. Stewart had insisted on solely renting to residents in order to maintain control of his community which had deterred families from settling. Garden City Corp. remodeled the Garden City Hotel, encouraged the sale of homes and filled the cold, vacant lots left by Mr. Stewart.
In 1910, property sales were low, causing them to open up land to the Doubleday, Page&Co. industry. The cornerstone laying for the new facility garnered the attention of former President Theodore Roosevelt. Garden City soon became the center for many historic events. During the Spanish-American War and World War II, remaining campgrounds on the Hempstead Plains were used by the army, bringing many people into the area and to the Garden City Hotel. Prior to his flight to Paris, Charles Lindbergh was also a guest at the famed hotel.
Franklin Square Read More
The town now known as Franklin Square emerged around a hotel built by Louis Schroeher in 1852. As a result of this investment in the previous grazing area known as the Hempstead Plains, came an influx of German settlers and travelers on the Hempstead-Jamaica Turnpike. The hotel became a center of society and even held elections in 1881. Franklin Square was cultivated by these settlers as farm land until the real estate boom made it one of the fastest growing towns in the 1940s. The origin of Franklin Square’s name is a present mystery to historians.
Farmingdale Read More
Farmingdale sits near the eastern end of what was the Hempstead Plains-the vast, treeless prairie then covering what is now central Nassau County. Englishman Thomas Powell purchased about 15 square miles, including the area that became Farmingdale, from the Marsapeque Indians for 140 pounds in 1695. He and his children divided the land into lots and began more than a dozen decades of agriculture in the area.
Over time, a gristmill, a tavern and a few other businesses were established. The community that formed called itself Hardscrabble. Whose idea that was remains unknown.
Real estate speculator Ambrose George opened a general store in Hardscrabble in 1841 and bought several acres of land. He changed the name of the hamlet to Farmingdale by 1845, subdivided his land and laid out streets. Within a few decades, industry began to locate in Farmingdale, including a lumberyard, a brickworks and at least six pickle factories. The bricks were used for buildings as near as Garden City and as far as Chicago.
The village incorporated in 1904. The farms provided an impetus for the state to establish the Agricultural and Technical College in 1914. Many of the remaining farms were bought out in the years after World War I, when aircraft companies - particularly Liberty - looked for manufacturing space. The industrialization resulted in the doubling of the village's population by the mid-1930s. The last open spaces were taken by the post-World War II building boom.
Interesting event: Charles Murphy's famous Mile-A-Minute bicycle ride - a publicity stunt in which Murphy tried to keep up with a Long Island Rail Road train and wound up setting a bicycle speed record - took place in Farmingdale.
Where to Find More: "Farmingdale: A Short History From the Ice Age to the Present,'' by Dorothy Vining, published in 1983, and other material available at the Farmingdale Public Library.
Based on excerpts from a Newsday summary (copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.)
East Meadow Read More
Although East Meadow is now a booming suburb, it's name reflects its rural history as the “Eastern Meadow” of the Hempstead Plains. The East Meadow was utilized as the ground for grazing cattle and significant to industry in the colonial period. During the 1700's, much of the country’s wool needs were supplied by East Meadow-grazed sheep.
Eisenhower Park was originally built to be the Salisbury Golf Club. During the Depression, the County acquired the property and turned it into Eisenhower Park, named after former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in honor of those lost in war. East Meadow is also home to the Nassau University Medical Center, a major hospital serving the central region of Nassau County.
East Meadow’s population transitioned from a farming community to a booming suburban community after World War II. Within the context of a decade, the area’s population went from 2,000 to 25,000. Similarly to Levittown, the East Meadow land was being sold at cheap prices to land developers, and returning War veterans and their families sought to establish homes in this budding suburb.
Eleanor Roosevelt, who came to serve as first lady of the United States, was a childhood resident of East Meadow. Her home on Newbridge Avenue, unfortunately, no longer stands. Another famous person who spent his childhood in East Meadow is Julius Erving. He was born in East Meadow, New York as Julius Winfield Erving, Jr. and since has made a name for himself in the basketball hall of fame.
Bethpage Read More
The Native Americans were originally drawn to the area of Bethpage because it was distinct from the rest of the Hempstead plains as it had a stream which supplied the Indians with an abundant supply of fish. Thomas Powell purchased the land from the Marsapeque Indians. The area received its name as a combination of biblical influence and Powell’s own idiosyncrasies. Neighboring hamlets had already received the names of Jericho and Jerusalem (which later became Wantagh), so Powell sought the assistance of the bible in naming his own purchase: “ . . . as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him, and when they drew night unto Jerusalem and were come to Bethphage . . . then sent Jesus two disciples.” Because of Powell’s dislike of words with many h’s, “Bethpage” became the decided name.
Bethpage later became the site of aviation engineering, being home to Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp., and Long Island’s largest employer. Its earlier claim to fame was the Beau Sejour hotel, which attracted such famed guests as filmmaker D.W. Griffith, president Harry Truman, and actor Charlie Chaplin.