Rockville Centre

Rockville Centre

Rockville Centre, residential village (1990 pop. 24,727), Nassau co., SE N.Y., on SW Long Island; inc. 1893. Molloy College is there. A state park is adjacent to the village.

Rockville Centre is a village located in New York's Nassau County in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 24,568.

The Village of Rockville Centre is inside the southwest part of the Town of Hempstead.

History

Near Rockaway, formerly a village for the Reckouackie Indians, in the late 17th century included what today is Rockville Centre, as well as Oceanside, Lynbrook, and East Rockaway. Population increased slowly through the 17th century, but with the erection of DeMott's Mill on Smith's Pond, Rockville Centre's position as a commercial center for the South Shore of Long Island began to emerge. The revolutionary fervor sweeping other parts of the thirteen colonies seemed far removed from the inhabitants of Near Rockaway, until June 1776, when a skirmish at DeMott's Mill turned neighbor against neighbor as the forces of independence swept through a fiercely loyalist community.

As the 19th century unfolded, perhaps the single most important event, other than incorporation, in transforming the hamlet into a thriving Village, occurred when Robert Pettit, in 1849, applied to the United States Post Office for permission to open a post office in his general store. Several names for this postal address were rejected in Washington, including Smithville, Smithtown, and Rockville, but the addition of "Centre" created what the Post Office agreed was a distinctive-sounding designation.

"Gentlemen wishing a county seat will find it to their interest to secure lots in said Village." With development came entrepreneurs who established newspapers, such as "The Picket," first published in 1865, with a distinct anti-South bias. It was "The South Side Observer," a successor paper which first touted the idea of a referendum on incorporation.

The Village Green is located on the site of the Wallace home. It is the setting for a variety of special events for residents, including summer concerts, springtime arts festival and holiday programs.

The arrival of the railroad in 1867 heralded the entry of Rockville Centre into the modern era. It was now possible to get into New York City faster and more frequently than had ever been possible by stage coach on the Jamaica Plain Road or by sailing ship from East Rockaway. By 1870, the local press was urging a home rule referendum.

Even before its establishment as a municipality, Rockville Centre enjoyed diverse services, including a volunteer fire company founded in 1875, a public library opened in 1882, and the South Shore's first high school, opened in 1892. South Side High School occupied the building and grounds which now house the Rockville Centre Municipal Building. The former high school, now Village Hall, erected a New York State historic marker in front of the building after its 100th birthday. It sets forth the building's place in the history of this Village and Long Island.

As incorporation and self-determination of municipal services dawned, Rockville Centre was a thriving community of 2,000.

Village History Reflects Its Growth and Stability The date: July 15,1893. The place: Atheneum Hall. The vote: 139 in favor, 79 opposed. With that, the citizens of Rockville Centre, Queens County, State of New York, took the first step toward the home rule and self determination.

Following ratification of the home rule referendum, the first Village elections were held on August 19, 1893, and John Lyon was elected Village President. This title, for the Village's chief elected official was changed to Mayor in 1925, during the tenure of Charles Richmond. Mr. Lyon was joined on the Village Board by Edwin Wallace, Edwin Seabury, Glentworth Combes, Nelson Seaman, and John Runcie. The first Village Board meeting was held on August 26, at the Wallace home on Maple Avenue.

The First water and electric utilities building on the south side of Maple Avenue was constructed on land obtained by the Village from Captain Edwin Wallace. Water service started in 1895, and the electric generating plant began operations at that site in 1898.

The original steam generator used to pump Village water is on display at the utilities complex on Maple Avenue.

The motivating force behind the creation of a municipal water utility was concern for controlling the spread of fires. In 1895, residents approved the levy of a water tax to construct a water system. The Water Department was established on land donated by Trustee Wallace, where it still stands today. Originally, water mains were installed in the downtown business district, and gradually, residential pumping was added to the system.

The original wells were about deep while water is pumped today from 10 wells nearly deep, and enters the distribution system under pressure from storage in four towers that collectively hold nearly 4 million gallons.

At the outset, the power plant averaged 206,182 kilowatt hours of power per year to 285 customers. Today, with the continuing upgrade of the generators, and the Village's access to hydropower supplied by the Power Authority of the State of New York, Rockville Centre's Electric Light and Power provides more than 10,000 residential and commercial customers with approximately 170 million kilowatt hours of power each year, at rates substantially below any other electric utility in the region.

The out front philosophy is still evident as the Village works to complete an electric enhancement project which will ensure Rockville Centre's continued access to safe, efficient and economical electric power.

Back in 1925, the Long Island Rail Road ran at ground level, through downtown Rockville Centre. Front Street was wide enough at that time to permit two-way traffic with sufficient space in the center to provide some convenient parking for some residents commuting to NYC.

Throughout its first 35 years, Rockville Centre grew and prospered. The expansion northward and the advent of residential development in the late 1910s and early 1920s resulted in the creation of a Building Department, and sewers were installed in the late 20's. In 1926, the Village was one of the first Long Island communities to install traffic lights, and by 1928, the Rockville Centre Police Department was completely motorized.

The year-round programs attracted 1900 boys and girls, ages 5 to 18, in 1956; today's extensive recreation schedule of classes, events, and facilities' use is enjoyed by every age group, from toddler to senior citizen. In 1992, more than 10,000 residents utilized the Recreation Center and the Village's parks.

The safety and convenience of having the railroad tracks run overhead has narrowed Front Street. The increase in the number of LIRR commuters has been accommodated at the parking fields built by the Village during the forties and fifties in areas near the station.

During the mid-50's, the Village built commuter parking fields, and augmented existing lots to provide space for the explosion of automobiles experienced in the post-war period. It successfully urged the State to complete the rerouting of the Sunrise Highway/ Merrick Road intersection, to eliminate a hazardous entry into the Village, and it approved preliminary plans to eliminate substandard housing in the west end of the community.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre was established in 1957.

Rockville Centre was featured in the 2004 movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, staring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet and Elijah Wood.

Rockville Centre School District

Rockville Centre’s public school district consists of five elementary schools which include: Watson, Covert, Wilson, Hewitt,and Riverside In addition to the elementary schools, Rockville Centre also consists of South Side Middle School and South Side High School

In 2008, South Side High School was again ranked in Newsweek's The Top of the Class: The complete list of the 1,300 top U.S. schools, this year at #42. Year after year, RVC has maintained this distinction, at #44 in 2007, #32 in 2006, #45 in 2005 and #65 in 2003.

Geography

Rockville Centre is located at 40°39'48" North, 73°38'13" West (40.663390, -73.636831).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 3.4 square miles (8.7 km²), of which, 3.3 square miles (8.5 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it is water. The total area is 2.38% water.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there are 24,568 people residing in the village, organized into 9,201 households and 6,468 families. The population density is 7,496.5 people per square mile (2,892.0/km²). There are 9,419 housing units at an average density of 2,874.0/sq mi (1,108.7/km²); as of 2004 , the average home value is more than $500,000. The racial makeup of the village is 90.88% White, 3.72% African American, 1.42% Asian, 0.08% Native American, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.83% from other races, and 1.03% from two or more races. 7.72% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 9,201 households, out of which 33.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.1% are married couples living together, 9.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 29.7% are non-families. 26.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.64 and the average family size is 3.25.

In the village the population is spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 25.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 40 years. For every 100 females there are 87.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 81.9 males.

The median income for a household in the village is $79,345, and the median income for a family is $103,315. Males have a median income of $70,149 versus $43,800 for females. The per capita income for the village is $40,739. 5.0% of the population and 2.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 7.0% of those under the age of 18 and 5.7% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Notable residents

Notable current and former residents of Rockville Centre include:

  • Bill Fillmaff (1985-),1998 Worldwide Poker Champion, author of Secret System.
  • Dave Attell (1965-), comedian, was raised there.
  • Pete Axthelm (1943-1991), critically acclaimed sportswriter, columnist, journalist, and TV sports commentator was raised in Rockville Centre.
  • Kevin Connors, ESPNNEWS Sports Anchor, was raised in Rockville Centre and graduated from South Side High School.
  • Ted Demme (1963-2002), film director and producer, grew up here and graduated from South Side HS and was the nephew of Academy Award winning film director Jonathan Demme. Ted's films included The Ref, Beautiful Girls, Monument Ave. and Blow.
  • Billy Donovan (1965-), former New York Knicks player, University of Florida 2 time back to back National Championship head basketball coach, was born and raised in Rockville Centre, starred at St.Agnes Cathedral HS; led Providence College to the 1987 Final Four and was named the Southeast Regional MVP. His dad, Bill, is in the Boston College Hall of Fame and lives here.
  • Joseph Fins (1959-), physician and medical ethicist, is a graduate of South Side High School.
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin, award winning author, historian, TV news analyst, and 1995 Pulitzer Prize winner for history grew up in Rockville Centre; her book on the Brooklyn Dodgers, Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir (ISBN 0-684-82489-2), features the village.
  • Mel Gussow (1933-2005), theatre critic for The New York Times.
  • Ray Heatherton (1909-1997), The 'Merry Mailman', lived in Rockville Centre; he hosted a series of long running children's TV shows in the '50's and '60s. Heathertons' daughter, Joey Heatherton, attended St. Agnes HS and became a well-known actress, singer, and dancer.
  • Art Heyman, college All-American at Duke University and first pick of the 1963 NBA draft by the NY Knicks was born here and owned and operated the Back Street Bar and Grill after his playing days.
  • Henry Hill Mob Imformant had a home in Rockville Centre.
  • Joan Jett (1958-), lived there during the 1980s
  • Dean Kamen (1951-), Segway Human Transporter inventor.
  • Kerry Keating - Head Coach, Santa Clara University Broncos and former UCLA Bruins' assistant coach.
  • Wendy Aron, American Author Hide & Seek Sitcom Writer Family Ties
  • Sandy Koufax (1935-), former major league Hall of Famer and pitching great, lived in Rockville Centre from 1944-1949 before moving back to Brooklyn for 10th grade. He won the Cy Young Award 3 times by unanimous voting and was the NL MVP in 1963. He was the World Series MVP twice [63' 65'], threw 3 no-hitters and a perfect game, and is widely considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time.
  • Frank Layden, former Niagara Univ. coach, Atlanta Hawks assistant coach, and president and head coach of the Utah Jazz where he won the 1984 NBA coach and executive of the year awards; got his coaching and teaching start at St. Agnes Cathedral H.S. and lived here in the late 50s.
  • Brendan Malone, assistant coach for the Orlando Magic [NBA], and former head coach of the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers lived here while coaching for years at Power Memorial HS in NYC.
  • Anne Meara (1929-), actress and comic was raised in Rockville Centre. For decades, she and her husband Jerry Stiller formed one of America's most famous comedy acts on stage and television; Stiller and Meara.
  • John Nolan and Michelle Nolan of the band Straylight Run were born there.
  • Mark O'Connell, the drummer of the band Taking Back Sunday, grew up in Rockville Centre and attended South Side High School.
  • Daryl Palumbo (1979-), of the bands GlassJaw and Head Automatica.
  • Floyd Patterson (1935-2006), Heavyweight Champion of the World lived here in the late 50s.
  • Frank Pellegrino, actor and restaurateur appearing in the movie Goodfellas and The Sopranos who is also co-owner of Rao's restaurant in NYC lives there.
  • Ted Robinson, Emmy Award winning and veteran radio and TV play-by-play sports announcer for NBC, USA, and other networks was raised in Rockville Centre.
  • Howard Stern (1954-), radio personality, attended South Side High School after he moved to RVC from Roosevelt.
  • Jay Wright (1961-), the head coach of the Villanova Wildcats basketball team, lived in Rockville Centre for years while he was the head coach of the Hofstra University Pride basketball team.
  • Jamie Smith, reporter of CBS 3-KYW Philadelphia, AP Award Winner, was born in Rockville Centre, went to St. Agnes Cathedral Parish
  • Broadway lighting designer Don Holder (The Lion King; Tony Award) (Movin' Out) graduated from South Side High School.
  • Marc Turnesa, golfer on the PGA Tour, grew up in Rockville Centre and attended South Side High School. His dad Mike is head pro at the Rockville Links C.C. Both help carry on the tradition of the famous Turnesa brothers royal family of golf.
  • Wally Rooney, retired 23 yr. veteran NBA referee; former supervisor of NBA officials, and former NABR union president lives and raised his family here.
  • Brian Mahoney, former Haggerty award winner while a Manhattan College standout; N.Y. Net player [ABA]; and head basketball coach at Manhattan College and St. John's University where he won Big East coach of the year [92-93]; grew up, starred at St. Agnes H.S. and makes his home here.
  • Jimmy Hayes, all time Boston Univ. basketball scoring avg. leader @ 24.3ppg [1967 - 70] and NY Net [ABA] was born and starred for St. Agnes Cathedral H.S. here.
  • Frank Morris(coach) coached at St. Agnes Cathedral HS from 1961-87; taking over the successful boys program started in 1954 by the well known educator, referee, and former St. Johns U. player, Jim Lennon. Together the two compiled an astounding 573-130 record in 31 seasons. Morris has been credited with transforming scholastic basketball on Long Island by implementing a revolutionary, unrelenting fast break offense, to go along with a tenacious full court man to man defense; both learned from his lacrosse playing days at Cortland State. His extremely well conditioned teams compiled a 491-122 record in 26 seasons against some of the toughest competition in the metropolitan NYC area; the east coast and beyond; winning many Long Island championships, NYS titles, and significant regional and national exposure and prominence. The two men helped build the Rockville Centre high school into a local perennial powerhouse; and sent a multitude of players to many fine colleges and universities throughout the nation on basketball scholarships; right up until the high school was closed in 1987.
  • AJ Wynder, member of the 90-91 NBA Boston Celtics, played at St. Agnes HS.
  • Terry McDermott, upon graduating St. Agnes HS in 1969 was the 8th overall pick in the 1969 Major League Baseball Draft by the LA Dodgers. He played briefly for the Dodgers in 1972 before injuries cut short his career and he became a TV sports reporter/director in Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Tim Moriarty, deceased Hockey Hall of Fame writer and author who covered the NY Islanders for Newsday during their championship runs, as well as following the Rangers and writing books; lived here.
  • Billy Idol, Rock Singer, lived in Rockville Centre for a brief period of a few years during his early childhood before returning to England with his family.
  • Frank Alagia, was a high school all American at St. Agnes HS in 1972 and won the 1976 Naismith Award as the best player in the nation under six feet tall his senior year at St. Johns Univ.
  • Dean Skelos, State Senator New York State Senate's Republican Majority Leader; grew up and still lives here.
  • Ed O'Toole, 1946, 47', and 48' USA national champion in the 10,000 meters; and member of the 1948 USA Olympic Team in London; lived and raised his large family here.

References

External links

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