Long Island

Long Island

Long Island: see Bahamas.
Long Island (1990 pop. 6,861,454), 1,723 sq mi (4,463 sq km), 118 mi (190 km) long, and from 12 to 20 mi (19-32 km) wide, SE N.Y.; fourth largest island of the United States and the largest outside Alaska and Hawaii. It is separated from Staten Island by the Narrows, from Manhattan and the Bronx by the East River, and from Connecticut by the Long Island Sound; on the south is the Atlantic Ocean. Long Island comprises four counties—Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk; Kings (coextensive with Brooklyn) and Queens are part of New York City.

Eastern Long Island has two flukelike peninsulas that are separated by Peconic Bay. The northern fluke, terminating in Orient Point, follows part of the Harbor Hill moraine, a hilly ridge that extends west along N Long Island to the Narrows and was deposited by melting ice during the last stage of the Pleistocene period. The southern fluke, terminating in Montauk Point, follows the Ronkonkoma moraine, a somewhat older morainal ridge that extends west to join the Harbor Hill moraine at Lake Success. Low, wooded hills, capped by glacial deposits lie north of the moraines and contrast with a broad, low-lying outwash plain to the south; the highest point on the island is c.400 ft (120 m) above sea level. Long beaches, backed by dunes and shallow lagoons, fringe the south shore; the north shore has low cliffs and is deeply indented by bays.

With no large streams, water supply is limited and is obtained from groundwater or from reservoirs on the mainland. Large recharge basins catch surplus rainwater to replenish underground supplies, and strict conservation measures have been imposed to prevent further contamination of groundwater from sewage disposal and detergents and from encroachment by seawater.

Both the Dutch and the English established farming, whaling, and fishing settlements on Long Island, but it remained sparsely settled until railroads, bridges, and highways provided easy access to New York City. The Long Island Expressway is particularly high-trafficked. Industrial and residential growth occurred rapidly after World War II, and in the 1970s and 80s development further intensified. Farming has declined in importance and changed in nature over time in E Long Island; fields of potatoes have been replaced in part by housing developments and by wine grapes and other more lucrative crops. Sand and gravel are quarried from the island's glacial deposits. Sport and commercial fishing is important on the south and east coasts. The south shore, a popular recreational area, includes Fire Island National Seashore, Robert Moses and Jones Beach state parks, Coney Island, and parts of Gateway National Recreation Area. The Hamptons are an affluent residential and beach community.

La Guardia and John F. Kennedy International airports are on W Long Island; the Brookhaven National Laboratory is in the east. Among the many higher-education institutions are the State Univ. of New York campuses at Stony Brook and Westbury, Long Island Univ., Adelphi Univ., Hofstra Univ., and branches of New York City universities.

In 1995 a state law was signed resolving the highly contentious issue of development of the 100,000-acre (40,500-hectare) Pine Barrens on E Long Island. A forest preserve was established, with a core of 52,500 acres (21,260 hectares) in which development would cease or be severely limited and a surrounding area in which development would be regulated and assisted. In 1997 an agreement was reached to preserve the remains of a 400-year-old fort built by Cutchogue Indians.

See B. Bookbinder, Long Island (1983); M. Tucker, ed., Long Island Writers & Writings (1985).

Long Island, battle of, Aug. 27, 1776, American defeat in the American Revolution. To protect New York City and the lower Hudson valley from the British forces massed on Staten Island, George Washington sent part of his small army to defend Brooklyn Heights, on Long Island. After several unsuccessful peace overtures, Sir William Howe landed at Gravesend while the British fleet under his brother, Richard Howe, shelled New York. After Sir William's troops defeated an American force under John Sullivan and William Alexander (Lord Stirling), Israel Putnam, the corps commander, prepared for the main attack. Sir William, not wanting another Bunker Hill, decided to lay siege instead of storming Brooklyn Heights. Washington saw the position was hopeless and evacuated (night of Aug. 29-30) his army back to Manhattan. Shortly afterward, the Americans began the retreat northward in which delaying actions were fought at Harlem Heights, White Plains, and Fort Washington. Washington managed to extricate most of his troops, and he regrouped them before striking at Trenton.

Long Island is an island located in southeastern New York, USA, its western shores directly across from Manhattan, from which the island stretches northeast into the Atlantic Ocean. It contains four counties, two of which (Queens and Kings) are boroughs (Queens and Brooklyn) of New York City, and two of which (Nassau and Suffolk) are suburbs of that city. Long Island Sound is the body of water between its northern shore and the state of Connecticut.

True to its name, Long Island is much longer than it is wide, extending 118 miles (190 km) from New York Harbor, and it varies in width from 12 to 23 miles (19 to 37 km) between the northern Long Island Sound coast and the southern Atlantic coast. With an area of 1,401 square miles (3,629 km2), Long Island is the largest island in the continental United States and the 149th largest island in the world. It is connected to the mainland by several bridges and tunnels through New York City, and ferries to Connecticut from Suffolk County.

Long Island had a population of 7,448,618 as of the 2000 census, with the population estimated at 7,559,372 as of July 1, 2006, making it the most populated island in any U.S. state or territory. It is also the 17th most populous island in the world, ahead of Ireland, Jamaica and the Japanese island of Hokkaidō. Its population density is 5,470 people per square mile (2,110 per km2).


The westernmost end of Long Island contains the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn (Kings County) and Queens (Queens County). The central and eastern portions contain the suburban Nassau and Suffolk counties. However, colloquial usage of the term "Long Island" or "the Island" refers only to Nassau and Suffolk counties; the more dense and urban Brooklyn and Queens are not usually referred to as "Long Island", since they are politically part of New York City.

Nassau County is more urbanized and congested than Suffolk County, with pockets of rural affluence in the cliffs of the Gold Coast of the North Shore overlooking the Long Island Sound. South Shore communities are built along protected wetlands and white sand beaches fronting on the Atlantic Ocean, which bring additional pockets of affluence to Long Island. Old money from the time of the Revolutionary War populated some of the island and still does to this day. Nouveau riches in the Roaring Twenties established large estates on the North Shore. Some have been donated to the public domain and become parks or museums; others have been redeveloped as conference or academic centers.

Owing to economic growth and the suburbanization of the metropolitan region after World War II, Nassau was the fastest growing county in the United States from the 1950s to the 1970s. Suffolk County remains less congested despite substantial growth in high technology and light manufacturing sectors since 1990. In its far east sections, Suffolk remains small-town rural, as in Greenport on the North Fork and some of the outward areas of The Hamptons, although summer tourism swells the population in those areas.

Long Island is known for its affluence and high quality of life. According to the 2000 Census, Nassau County is the third richest county per capita in New York State, and the 10th richest in the nation. Long Island's Nassau County has the second highest property taxes in the United States. Suffolk County has redeveloped North Fork potato fields into a burgeoning wine region. The South Fork is known for beach towns, including the world-renowned Hamptons, and for Montauk Point, home of Montauk Point Lighthouse at the eastern tip of the island.

It is local custom to say "on Long Island" rather than "in Long Island" when referring to locations in the region. This usage is consistently employed by local newspapers including The New York Times and Newsday.


Long Island, as part of the Outer Lands region, is formed largely of two spines of glacial moraine, with a large, sandy outwash plain beyond. These moraines consist of gravel and loose rock left behind during the two most recent pulses of Wisconsin glaciation some 21,000 years ago (19,000 BC). The northern moraine, which directly abuts the North Shore of Long Island at points, is known as the Harbor Hill moraine. The more southerly moraine, known as the Ronkonkoma moraine, forms the "backbone" of Long Island; it runs primarily through the very center of Long Island, roughly coinciding with the length of the Long Island Expressway.

The land to the south of this moraine to the South Shore is the outwash plain of the last glacier. Known as the Hempstead Plains, this land contained one of the few natural prairies to exist east of the Appalachian Mountains.

The glaciers melted and receded to the north, resulting in the difference between the North Shore beaches and the South Shore beaches. The North Shore beaches are rocky from the remaining glacial debris, while the South Shore's are crisp, clear, outwash sand. Running along the center of the island like a spine is the moraine left by the glaciers. (Bald Hill is the highest point along the moraine.) The glaciers also formed Lake Ronkonkoma, a kettle lake.

The island's tallest natural point is Jayne's Hill near Melville, with an elevation of 400.9 feet (122.2 m) above sea level. Long Island is separated from the mainland by the East River, which is actually not a river, but a tidal strait. Long Island Sound forms the northern boundary of the island.

Long Island contains a series of sand and gravel aquifers, geologic formations which can hold, transmit and yield water in usable quantities. All of Long Island's water supply comes from underground water held in aquifers. Stacked one on top of the other like layers in a cake, three major and one minor aquifer make up the Long Island aquifer system. In sequence from shallowest to deepest, the Long Island aquifers are: the Upper Glacial, the Magothy and the Lloyd Aquifers. All Long Island aquifers receive their fresh water from precipitation which takes from 25 to 1,000 years to migrate through the layers to the aquifers, which hold roughly 70 trillion US gallons (260 km3)—enough to flood the entire surface of Long Island with more than 300 feet (90 m) of water—and can withstand long droughts that dry up surface-water reservoirs like the ones that supply New York City. Almost four million gallons each day are taken from beneath Nassau and Suffolk Counties, providing the primary source of water for the resident population. While most homes are on a municipal water system, there are still many areas where homes have their own wells to provide water. Both Nassau and Suffolk counties have long recognized their dependence on the aquifers and have stipulated that recharge basins be built (sumps) that collect ground water. Recharge basins are required and sized based upon the scale of any new development on Long Island. Due to contamination associated with development, concern to preserve the quality of Long Island's groundwater has become the single most important factor limiting the region's growth.


Long Island has a climate similar to other coastal areas of the Northeastern United States; it has warm, humid summers and cold winters. The Atlantic Ocean helps bring afternoon sea breezes that temper the heat in the warmer months and limit the frequency and severity of thunderstorms. Severe thunderstorms are not uncommon, especially when they approach the island from the mainland areas of the Bronx, Westchester County and Connecticut in the northwest. Measurable snow falls every winter and in many winters one or more intense storms (called a Nor'easter) produce blizzard conditions with snowfalls of 1–2 feet (30–60 cm) and near-hurricane force winds.

Long Island temperatures vary from west to east, with the western part of the island warmer on most occasions than the east. This is due to two factors: the western part is closer to the mainland, and it is more densely developed, causing the "urban heat island" effect. The eastern part is cooler on most occasions due to moderation of the Atlantic Ocean and the Long Island Sound, and its being less developed. On dry nights with no clouds or wind, the Pine Barrens in eastern Suffolk County can be almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius) cooler due to radiational cooling.

Severe weather

Long Island is somewhat vulnerable to hurricanes. Its northern location and relatively cool waters tend to weaken storms to below hurricane strength by the time they reach Long Island, although despite this, some storms have made landfall at Category 1 or greater strength, including two unnamed Category 3 storms in 1938 (New England Hurricane of 1938) and 1944, Hurricane Donna in 1960, Hurricane Belle in 1976, Hurricane Gloria in 1985, Hurricane Bob in 1991 (brushed the eastern tip) and Hurricane Floyd in 1999. (There is debate among climatologists as to whether Hurricane Floyd made landfall as a Category 1 or as a very strong "almost hurricane strength" tropical storm. The official records note it as the latter.)

Many other storms crossed the island directly at tropical storm strength, including Hurricane Bertha in 1996 and Hurricane Charley in 2004. In September 2006, the remnants of Hurricane Ernesto swept through the area, causing several temporary power outages on parts of the island.

Some thunderstorms can be extremely severe and tornadoes, although very rare, are possible. In September 1998, a small tornado hit Lynbrook; in August 1999, an F-2 tornado hit parts of Mattituck, in August 2005, a small tornado hit Glen Cove; one year later in August 2006, a small tornado hit Massapequa in Nassau County, and parts of Amityville, located in Suffolk County. On July 18, 2007, an F-1 tornado hit Islip Terrace and on September 27, 2006, a rare waterspout was seen over the Long Island Sound near Port Jefferson. In the wintertime, temperatures are warmer than areas further inland (especially in the night and early morning hours), sometimes causing a snowstorm further inland to fall as rain or mixed precipitation on the island. In Late July of 2008 off the coast of Quogue on Dune Road, a water spout formed in the ocean; the related severe thunderstorms were the worst reported in years.


Population trend
Year Inhabitants
1790 37,108
1800 42,097
1810 48,752
1820 56,978
1830 69,775
1840 110,406
1850 212,637
1860 379,788
1870 540,648
1880 743,957
1890 1,029,097
Year Inhabitants
1900 1,452,611
1910 2,098,460
1920 2,723,764
1930 4,103,638
1940 4,600,022
1950 5,237,918
1960 6,403,852
1970 7,141,515
1980 6,728,074
1990 6,861,474
2000 7,448,618

Long Island is one of the most densely populated regions in the United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the total population of all four counties of Long Island was 7,448,618. New York City's portion of the census was 4,694,705, with Brooklyn's population at 2,465,326 and Queens having 2,229,379 residents.

The combined population of Nassau and Suffolk counties was 2,753,913 people; Suffolk County's share at 1,419,369 and Nassau County's at 1,334,544. Nassau County had a larger population for decades, but Suffolk County surpassed it in the 1990 census as growth and development continued to spread eastward As Suffolk County has over twice the land area of Nassau County, the latter still has a much higher population density. Combined, Long Island's population is greater than 38 of the 50 United States. If it were an independent nation, it would rank as the 96th most populated nation, falling between Switzerland and Israel.

As of the 2000 census, the racial makeup of the island was 57.16% White, 21.18% African American, 0.36% Native American, 9.06% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 8.17% other races, and 4.01% from two or more races. 17.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau Census 2000 show that non-whites are in the majority in the two urban counties of New York City, while whites are in the majority in the two suburban counties of Nassau and Suffolk:

  • Kings County: 41.2% white, 36.4% black, 19.8% Hispanic/Latino, 7.5% Asian, and 0.4% American Indian/Native Alaskan.
  • Queens County: 44.1% white, 25.0% Hispanic/Latino, 20.0% black, 17.6% Asian, and 0.1% American Indian/Native Alaskan.
  • Nassau County: 79.3% white, 10.3% Hispanic/Latino, 10.1% black, 4.7% Asian, and 0.2% American Indian/Native Alaskan.
  • Suffolk County: 84.6% white, 10.9% Hispanic/Latino, 6.9% black, 2.4% Asian, and 0.3% American Indian/Native Alaskan.

Religious groups on Long Island
2000 census
% not
of % not
Kings 2,465,326 37 4 15 8 33
Queens 2,229,379 29 37 11 5 15
Nassau 1,334,544 52 9 16 7 15
Suffolk 1,419,369 52 21 7 8 11
Total 7,448,618 40 18 12 7 20
Source: ARDA


At the time of European contact, the Lenape people (named the Delaware by Europeans) inhabited the western end of the Island, and spoke the Munsee dialect of the Algonquian language family. Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European to record an encounter with these people when he entered what is now New York Bay in 1524. The eastern portion of the island was inhabited by speakers of the Mohegan-Montauk-Narragansett language group of the same language family, indicative of their ties to the aboriginal peoples inhabiting what is now Connecticut and Rhode Island.

A Native American name for Long Island is reportedly "Paumanok", meaning "the island that pays tribute." More powerful tribes in the surrounding areas are alleged to have forced the relatively peaceful Long Islanders to give tributes and payment to avoid attacks.

The western portion of Long Island was later settled by the Dutch, while the eastern region was settled by English Puritans from New Haven, Connecticut, settling in Southold on October 21, 1640. The entirety of Long Island came under English dominion in 1664 when the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam was taken over by the English and renamed New York. During the American Revolutionary War, the island was captured from General George Washington early by the British in the Battle of Long Island, the largest battle of the entire war. There was a notable loyalist element, especially in Hempstead, though three signers of the Declaration of Independence - William Floyd, Francis Lewis and Philip Livingston - lived on Long Island. Yankees in northern and eastern parts were more inclined to Rebel sentiments, but after the British victory on Long Island many Patriots fled, leaving mostly Loyalists behind. The island remained a British stronghold until the end of the war, and was the center of much of General Washington's espionage activities due to the proximity to the British North American military headquarters in New York City.

African Americans have been an integral part of Long Island history, most arriving first as slaves before the Revolution and working both at domestic and rural trades. New York and Long Island kept slavery until it was outlawed in 1799, with remnants remaining until 1827. Most freedpeople settled near where they had been living and had connections.

19th century Long Island was rural and agricultural, except in parts of Kings (Brooklyn) and Queens counties, which were consolidated into "The City of Greater New York" on January 1, 1898. The easternmost 280 square miles (725 km²) of Queens County, which were not part of the consolidation plan, separated in 1899 to form Nassau County.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Long Island began the transformation from backwoods and farms to the paradigm of the American suburb. Railroads made possible commuting suburbs before construction of the Long Island Expressway and other major roadways. Robert Moses created various parkway projects to span the island, along with state parks for the enjoyment of many. Jones Beach on the Atlantic Ocean is the most famous, "the crown jewel in Moses' State Park System". Long Island quickly became New York City's retreat - with millions of people going to and from the city to the new state parks. Gradually development started to follow the parkways, with various communities springing up along the more traveled routes: (the Southern State Parkway, the Northern State Parkway, and, in the 1960s, the Long Island Expressway). Many early developments had restrictive covenants on residents, but these changed after the Civil Rights Movement.

After World War II, Long Island's population skyrocketed, mostly in Nassau County and western Suffolk County. People who worked and lived in New York City moved out to Long Island in new developments built during the post-war boom. The most famous post-war development was the town of Levittown. Positioned along the Wantagh Parkway in the area formally known as Island Trees, the area became the first place to massively reproduce houses on a grand scale- providing great opportunity for GI's returning home to start a family. After the success of Levittown, other areas modeled what some people criticize as "suburban sprawl". Nassau County became more densely populated than Suffolk County because its residential areas were closer to jobs then concentrated in New York City.

Many immigrants and African Americans moving from New York City have made comfortable lives on Long Island. The immigration waves of southern and eastern Europe, followed by more recent ones from Asia and Africa, have been pivotal in creating the diversity on Long Island that many other American regions lack. These immigrations are reflected in the large Italian American, Irish American and Jewish American populations. Typically the immigrants lived in the more urban western parts of the island, and their descendants farther east. Late 20th century immigrants have often moved directly to Nassau County and other suburban areas.


The counties of Nassau and Suffolk have several affluent areas, several working class areas, and several middle class areas.

From about 1930 to about 1990, Long Island was considered one of the aviation centers of the United States, with companies such as Grumman Aircraft having their headquarters and factories in the Bethpage area. Grumman was long the source of top warplanes for the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps, as seen in the movie Top Gun and numerous WW-II naval and Marine Corps aviation movies. Prominent WW-II Grumman aircraft included the F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat fighters, and the TBF Avenger bomber, flown by hundreds of U.S. and Allied pilots, including former President George H.W. Bush.

Long Island has played a prominent role in scientific research and in engineering. It is the home of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in nuclear physics and Department of Energy research. In recent decades companies such as Sperry Rand, Computer Associates (headquartered in Islandia), and Motorola Enterprise Mobility (now occupying the former headquarters of Symbol Technologies, previously a Grumman plant in Holtsville, New York), have made Long Island a center for the computer industry. Gentiva Health Services, a national provider of home health and pharmacy services, also is headquartered in Long Island. Stony Brook University of the State University of New York conducts far-ranging medical and technology research. Long Island is also home to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which was directed for 35 years by James D. Watson (who co-discovered the double helix structure of DNA with Francis Crick).

Tourism is a good part of the Long Island economy in certain regions. Tourism thrives primarily in the summer because of the natural beauty, parks and beaches in Long Island along with the warmer weather of summer. Regions of Long Island that are major tourist attractions include the North Fork on the east end of Suffolk County, known for fishing villages, quaint towns, ferries to Connecticut, and for world-famous wineries. The South Fork is known for similar features, including golf, equestrian, boating, surfing, and fine dining in the Hamptons and Montauk. The village of Patchogue has a fine theater, the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, which is the official home theater of the Atlantic Wind Symphony

The eastern end of the island is still partly agricultural. In the last 25 years, development of vineyards on the North Fork became a major new industry, replacing potato fields. Pumpkin farms have been added to traditional truck farming. Farms allow fresh fruit picking by Long Islanders for much of the year. Fishing continues to be an important industry, especially at Northport and Montauk.

Long Island is home to the East Coast's largest industrial park, the Hauppauge Industrial Park. The park has over 1,300 companies employing more than 55,000 Long Islanders. Companies in the park and abroad are represented by the Hauppauge Industrial Association.

Government and politics

Nassau County and Suffolk County each have their own governments, with a County Executive leading each. Each has a county legislature and countywide-elected officials, such as district attorney, county clerk and county comptroller. The towns in both counties have their own governments as well, with town supervisors and a town council.

Brooklyn and Queens, on the other hand, do not have independent county governments. As boroughs of New York City, both have Borough Presidents, largely ceremonial offices with little political power. The shutdown of the city's Board of Estimate due to a Supreme Court decision's declaring it unconstitutional, led to a reorganization of the city government.

Two Indian reservations - Poospatuck Reservation and Shinnecock Reservation located in Suffolk County are the home of Native Americans. Numerous island place names are Native American in origin.

Law enforcement and crime

In 2005, Forbes magazine listed Long Island as having 2,042 crimes per 100,000 residents, less than half the US average

Long Island is patrolled by the New York City Police Department, Nassau County Police Department, Suffolk County Police Department, New York State Police and several dozen town and village police departments.

Both Nassau and Suffolk have a sheriff's office that handles civil process, evictions, warrant service and enforcement, prisoner transport and detention, and operation of the county jail. The Nassau County Sheriff's Department employs about 1,000 correction officers and 100 deputy sheriffs and performs the above duties although deputy sheriffs have full police officer powers and can make arrests for any crime they come across. The Suffolk County Sheriff's Office has approximately 900 correction officers and 260 deputy sheriffs and operates the two jail facilities in Suffolk County. The deputy sheriffs in Suffolk County have a full service patrol unit, including K9, Aviation, SWAT, and Marine divisions as well as a Criminal Investigation Division and various other special details and assignments. N.Y.S. court officers secure court houses for Long Island courts.

Secession proposal

For more information, see New York City secession.

On March 28, 2008 Suffolk County, NY Comptroller Joseph Sawicki proposed a plan that would make Long Island the 51st state of the United States of America. Sawicki says that all the Long Island taxpayers' money would stay on Long Island, rather than the funds being dispersed all over the entire state of New York. The state of Long Island would include as many as 2.3 million people. If New York City and Westchester County were to be included in a new state together, the population would total over 9 million people, becoming the 10th most populated state in the US, ahead of Georgia and behind North Carolina.


Every major form of transportation serves Long Island, including John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Long Island MacArthur Airport, multiple smaller airports, railroads, subways, and several major highways. There are historic and modern bridges, recreational and commuter trails, and ferries as well.

The Long Island Expressway, Northern State Parkway, and Southern State Parkway, all products of the automobile-centered planning of Robert Moses, make east-west travel on the island straightforward, if not always quick.

There are currently ten road crossings out of Long Island, all within New York City limits at the extreme western end of the island. Plans for a Long Island Crossing at various locations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties have been discussed for decades, but there are currently no firm plans to construct such a crossing.

Major roads of Long Island
West-East Roads Merrick Road / Montauk Highway

Sunrise Highway*

Belt Parkway / Southern State Parkway

Hempstead Turnpike

Grand Central Parkway / Northern State Parkway

Long Island Expressway

Jericho Turnpike/Middle Country Road

Northern Boulevard

South-North Roads Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

Van Wyck Expressway

Cross Island Parkway

Meadowbrook State Parkway

Wantagh State Parkway

Newbridge Road

Cedar Swamp Road/Broadway

Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway

Broad Hollow Road

Deer Park Avenue

Robert Moses Causeway / Sagtikos State Parkway / Sunken Meadow State Parkway

Islip Avenue

Nicolls Road

William Floyd Parkway

Roads in boldface are limited access roads. *Sunrise Highway is only limited-access from western Suffolk county eastwards.


The Long Island Rail Road is the busiest commuter railroad system in North America, carrying an average of 282,400 customers each weekday on 728 daily trains. Chartered on April 24, 1834, it is also the oldest railroad still operating under its original name.


Primary and secondary education

Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties are home to 125 public school districts containing a total of 656 public schools. Long Island is also home to a number of private and parochial schools.

Colleges and universities

Nassau and Suffolk counties are home to numerous colleges and universities, including:



Leisure and recreation

Resort areas

Fire Island National Seashore, which is a long barrier island off Long Island's South Shore, is a hot spot for tourists, especially during the summer. The Village of Ocean Beach is the most populous community on Fire Island. There are restrictions on automobile use and the island is not accessible by car (except for one small westerly portion), requiring passage by one of numerous ferries or other watercraft.

The Hamptons, in eastern Long Island's Suffolk County, is one of the area's most popular summer destinations. Parts of the Hamptons are well known for being a playground for the rich, and are frequented by residents of New York City during the summer months for weekend getaways. This has given rise to the terms "House in the Hamptons" or "Hamptons summer share."

The Garden City Hotel is near to several train stations, to the Roosevelt Field Mall, and to three golf courses. As well, Splish Splash, one of the world's leading water parks, can be found in Suffolk County.


Both Nassau and Suffolk County are home to thousands of restaurants, many of them top quality. As New York is known as a melting pot, every kind of restaurant from Mexican to Hungarian to Indian to Bengali can be found. These specialty restaurants are often family owned.

Small family-owned pizzerias are ubiquitous. It is not uncommon for a town on Long Island to have several different pizzerias, each with its own distinct flavor. The Long Island Pizza Festival & Bake-Off is annual competition where mom and pop pizzerias compete to be named best on Long Island.

Bagel stores and delis are also extremely common. Some bagel stores are Jewish-owned and approved as kosher. Long Island bagels are considered some of the best in the world. Often more than one deli can be found in a town.

Diners also abound on Long Island, many are Greek- and German-owned, and many depending on the business of the town are open all night, for late-night patrons.

Almost all major fast food and casual dining chains have a presence on Long Island as well.


Long Island is home to numerous famous athletes, including hall of famers Jim Brown, Julius Erving, John Mackey and Carl Yastrzemski. Others include Gold Medalist Sarah Hughes, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jumbo Elliott, Matt Serra, Boomer Esiason, Vinny Testaverde, Craig Biggio, Frank Catalanotto, Greg Sacks, Rob Burnett, Steve Park, Frank Viola, Marques Colston and Speedy Claxton.

Club Sport Founded League Venue
Long Island Rough Riders Soccer 1994 United Soccer Leagues Mitchel Athletic Complex
New York Islanders Hockey 1972 National Hockey League Nassau Coliseum
Long Island Lizards Lacrosse 2001 Major League Lacrosse Mitchel Athletic Complex
New York Titans Indoor lacrosse 2007 National Lacrosse League Nassau Coliseum/MSG
New York Dragons Arena Football 1995 Arena Football League Nassau Coliseum
Long Island Ducks Baseball 2000 Atlantic League Citibank Park
Strong Island Sound Basketball 2005 American Basketball Association Suffolk County Community College
New York Mets Baseball 1962 Major League Baseball Citi Field
Brooklyn Cyclones Baseball 2001 New York-Penn League KeySpan Park

Ebbets Field, which stood in Brooklyn from 1913 to 1957, was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who decamped to California after the 1957 season to become the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers won several National League penants in the 1940s and 1950s, losing several times in the World Series—often called Subway Series—to their Bronx rivals, the New York Yankees. The Dodgers won their lone championship in Brooklyn in the 1955 World Series versus the Yankees. The Brooklyn Nets Arena is a proposed sports arena, business and residential complex to be built partly on a platform over the Atlantic Yards at Atlantic Avenue, and is intended to serve as a new home for the New Jersey Nets.

The New York Mets play at Shea Stadium in Flushing in Queens. Plans have been announced for a new stadium, Citi Field in Willets Point in the parking lot of the current stadium, to be completed for the 2009 baseball season. The new stadium is designed with an exterior facade and main entry rotunda inspired by Ebbets Field. The Brooklyn Cyclones are a minor league baseball team, affiliated with the New York Mets. The Cyclones play at KeySpan Park just off the boardwalk on Coney Island.

Nassau County is home to the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League and the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League, who both play at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. Long Island has been a hot spot for outdoor lacrosse at the youth and college level, which made way for a Major League Lacrosse team in 2001, the Long Island Lizards. The Lizards play at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale. The longest dirt Thoroughbred racecourse in the world is located in the Nassau County community of Elmont at Belmont Park.

Long Island is also home to the Long Island Ducks minor league baseball team of the Atlantic League. Their stadium, Citibank Park, is located in Central Islip. The American Basketball Association's Strong Island Sound play home games at Suffolk County Community College. The two main rugby teams are the Long Island RFC in East Meadow and the Suffolk Bull Moose in Stony Brook. It also has a professional soccer club, the Long Island Rough Riders, who play at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale. The Rough Riders have won two national championships, in 1995 and 2002.

Another category of sporting events popular in this region are Firematic Racing events, involving many local Volunteer fire departments.


Modern music has a long history on Long Island, as the island has long been part of US history and is near the most populous city in North America, yet is located in the suburbs and as such is strongly influenced by youth culture. Psychedelic rock was widely popular in the 1960s as flocks of disaffected youth travelled to NYC to participate in protest and the culture of the time. R & B also has a history in Long Island, especially in Nassau County, where population is denser and more closely influenced by New York City (Queens and Brooklyn).

Jones Beach State Park is a popular place to view summer concerts, with new as well as classic artists performing there during the summer months at its outdoor venue. It hosts a large Fourth of July fireworks show every year, and the stands are filled. People park cars along the highway leading to the show, and others watch from the nearby beaches.

Long Island is also known for its schools' music programs. Many schools in Suffolk County have distinguished music programs, with high numbers of students who are accepted into the state-wide All-State music groups, or even the National All-Eastern Coast music groups. Both the Suffolk County and Nassau County Music Educator's Associations are both recognized by MENC, and host numerous events, competitions, and other music-related activities.

The Long Island music scene has been around for ages. Heroes of the Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk County) music scene include; Billy Joel, Pat Benatar, forefather of American Indie-Rock Lou Reed, Paul Simon, Johnny Ramone, Dream Theater, Debbie Gibson, Eddie Money, new-age king John Tesh, Public Enemy, Mariah Carey, Busta Rhymes, Shaggy, folk singer Oscar Brand, Brooklyn Bridge, Ashanti, John Nolan, Dee Snider, Lindsay Lohan, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Rakim, Blue Öyster Cult, Vanilla Fudge, Glassjaw,Taking Back Sunday, Straylight Run, From Autumn to Ashes, biology(band) and Brand New.

Artists from the counties of Kings and Queens are far too many to even begin naming, given the regions dominance in almost every genre of music. A handful of artists who call Queens or Kings their home include Jay Z, Nas, 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Mobb Deep, LL Cool J, Q-Tip, Fugees, Mos Def, Foxy Brown, Fabolous, Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan, Beastie Boys, Run-D.M.C., A Tribe Called Quest, Art Garfunkel.

In the beginning of the 21st century, Long Island became one of the premiere centers for independent rock music and the "emo" genre. Popular acts such as Glassjaw, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Straylight Run, and Envy on the Coast all consider Long Island their home. Today, "Long Island Emo" is considered its own genre; reminiscent of "Seattle Grunge," "Orange County Hardcore," or "Detroit Techno." Long Island is also home to the up-and-coming band Rise Above.

Long Island in popular culture

Famous residents

See also


External links

Search another word or see Long Islandon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature