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The Rise Of North Hempstead

In 2012, Howard Kroplick was named town historian for the Town of North Hempstead. Now, two years later, he has published a pictorial history of the town, simply titled North Hempstead, a volume brought out by Arcadia Publishing as part of its extensive Images of America series. 

 

“As town historian, it was the logical thing to write such a book,” Kroplick said. “This is the first published book on the town.” The volume, he added, is “long overdue” and also a publication that coincides with the 400th anniversary of the town’s discovery by the Dutch explorer, Adriaen Block. 

 

The 127-page volume has a generous selection of photos chronicling the history of the town from Native American times to the original Dutch and English settlers and its steady evolution to one of the 100 “Best Places to Live in America.”

 

The text and photos also recall the town’s encounters with American history, including its divided loyalties during the Revolutionary War, its contribution to both aviation history and American culture, as a residence and source of inspiration to artists as different as

William Cullen Bryant, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Philip Sousa, George M. Cohan and Groucho Marx. 

 

Even though Dutch settlers founded North Hempstead for the new world, the more powerful British eventually wrested control of Long Island and in 1664, adopted “Duke’s Laws” which formed the framework for local government. Within a century, the 13

colonies, including New York, would rebel against British rule. Only eight weeks after the Declaration of Independence, the Battle of Long Island, a major skirmish, took place throughout the New York area with the British troops, under Gen. William Howe, using their superior numbers to drive the Continental Army forces, under Gen. George Washington to evacuate their holdings in New York City. And so, Long Island remained under British occupation until the end of the war, even though major spy rings were in operation throughout the island, including one by the Onderdonck family, whose residence later became the George Washington Manor restaurant in downtown Roslyn.

 

Soon, North Hempstead began acquiring its own identity. In 1784, it became a separate town within Queens County. Over 100 years later, North Hempstead, along with Hempstead and Oyster Bay, all seceded from Queens County, forming Nassau County. That entity came into being on April 27, 1898 following what Kroplick calls a “bitter battle in Albany.”

 

By the early 1890s, North Hempstead was now home to the North Shore “Gold Coast,” an area that had the highest concentration of wealthy during the heyday of the Gilded Age. That helped to set the tone for Nassau County in the early part of the 20th century as a place that was home of spectacular mansions and estates, plus such sports for the wealthy as polo, fox hunting and golf.

 

By then, North Hempstead was also home to the Vanderbilt Cup Races, automobile-racing contests which drew residents from all walks of life throughout the New York City area. This is a subject that Kroplick also knows well as he is also the author of Vanderbilt

Cup Races and The Long Island Motor Parkway, both published by Arcadia.

 

The evolution of North Hempstead also includes its economy. From its beginnings, the town was home to many prosperous commercial oyster farms. As with the rest of the early America, North Hempstead was also home to numerous family farms, which in addition to sustenance farming also raised horses for transportation and sheep for wool. The largest advance in industry came in the 19th century, when sand mining companies began cultivating sand and gravel that had stood in the North Hempstead soil for centuries. All this was key to the ongoing growth of New York City. 

 

“Between 1865 and 1989, more than 200 million tons of sand were shipped from Port Washington to New York City to make concrete for skyscrapers, subway tunnels, foundations and sidewalks,” Kroplick wrote in his extensive introduction. “An estimated 90 percent of all the concrete used to build New York City came from these sandpits.”

 

Meanwhile, North Hempstead plunged forward, with trains and roads being constructed and Long Island becoming a launching place for two great moments in aviation history: Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 solo flight from Roosevelt Field to Paris and a 1939 commercial passenger transatlantic flight from Port Washington to Lisbon, the first such passenger flight in history.

 

Meanwhile, the mass production of automobiles and the construction of highways altered Long Island history forever. In the post-World War II era, it made its transition from a rural area, dominated by farming and occasional mansions, to suburbia. But some of the old ways may yet make a comeback. In 1966, pollution caused Hempstead Harbor to be closed for shellfishing, once a major occupation in the town. However, by 2011, all that had changed.

 

“With the elimination of many industrial uses around the harbor and water-quality improvement efforts,” Kroplick observed, “the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation…opened 2,520 acres of outer Hempstead Harbor as a shellfish area.”

 

Kroplick said that all proceeds of the book will go to various charities in the Town of North Hempstead. 

News

In a typical Long Island community packed with houses and backyards, there are a couple of acres of open land of community gardens where people are growing basil and dahlias and roses and cabbages—people like Terry Dunckey of Westbury and Peg Woerner of Great Neck, tending their small plots and helping to promote sustainable and organic practices.

East Meadow Farm, off Merrick Avenue, is owned by Nassau County and operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Nassau County. Previously it was a family-owned farm that was purchased by the county through the Environment Bond Act Program, a $150 million program that called for, among several mandates, the preservation of 400 acres of open space. In 2009, CCE of Nassau was awarded the lease to the land and in January 2012 took possession of the property. East Meadow Farm is a place where we can get the best advice on how to make our gardens grow without harming the earth. Part of the CCE’s original proposal was the establishment of a farmer’s market and, now, the market is open two days a week, a place to purchase organic vegetables and flowers during the growing season.

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say they’re still investigating locations in the Mineola School District, while leaning towards installing cameras near the North Side or Willets Road schools in the East Williston School District. Cameras could begin operation in September.


Sports

Nobody wants to make excuses, but sometimes when the injury bug hits, it’s impossible to overcome. Mineola Mustangs football head coach Dan Guido, entering his 28th season at helm, knows the injuries were the cause for their first-round defeat at the hands of the West Hempstead Rams last November.

“There was too many injuries on the offensive line last season,” said Guido. “It was supposed to be our strength and it ended up being a weak link by the end of the season.”

Even with those injuries, the Mustangs went 4-4 during the regular season.

The BU15 Mineola Revolution were crowned champions of the Roar at the Shore Tournament 2014 in West Islip on Aug. 10. After dropping the opener 2-0 against North Valley Stream, Mineola bounced back to beat Freeport Premiere 2-1.

The Revolution’s offense exploded in the third game as they beat West Islip 7-0. Mineola’s final game pitted them against Quickstrike FC, which entered the contest without a loss and within a point of winning the tournament.


Calendar

Zoning Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Mineola Village Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 3

School Board Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com