whaling port

Port Jefferson, New York

The Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson is located in the town of Brookhaven in Suffolk County, New York on the North Shore of Long Island. As of the United States 2000 census, the village population was 7,837. The small town is home to several unique restaurants and shops, and has a growing tourism industry.


Port Jefferson is located at (40.946103, -73.062224), on the North Shore of Long Island, about 56 miles east of New York City. The Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Ferry company operates three vessels that make daily runs from Port Jefferson across Long Island Sound to Bridgeport, Connecticut. The three vessels are the 'Grand Republic' (built in 2003), the 'P.T. Barnum' (built in 1999) and the 'Park City'(built in 1988).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 3.0 square miles (7.9 km²), of which, 3.0 square miles (7.8 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.98%) is water.

One notable geographic feature is Pirate's Cove, a small cove dredged long ago by the Seaboard Dredging Company. The original name was Seaboard Hole, but it was changed for the sake of appealing to tourists. Several large sand dunes (artificially created by the dredging) are found here.

Port Jefferson is not to be confused with the Hamlet of Port Jefferson Station south of the train tracks.


Port Jefferson at one time was a small ship building community, with the name Drowned Meadow. The community leaders, realizing this was a poor name for the ship building business, eventually changed its name to Port Jefferson after President Thomas Jefferson. The town was once a major whaling port, especially in the 1880s.

The Village was named after Jefferson because he was the major source of funding for a project to prevent the flooding of the lower village from whence the original name originated -- Drowned Meadow.

P.T. Barnum, the famous circus owner, owned a tract of land which ran through the village. His intention was to make Port Jefferson the home base for his circus. The townspeople put a stop to his plans, and he eventually sold his land. A street named "Barnum Ave." now runs though the area that was once his land, and a house he had constructed still exists, in private hands.

The Village of Port Jefferson was incorporated in 1964.


The Port Jefferson Union Free School District covers Belle Terre and most of Port Jefferson. In 2008, the district had 1375 students. There are three schools:

  • Edna Louise Spear Elementary School (Pre-K to 5th)

aka Port Jefferson Elementary School, aka Scraggy Hill. The elementary school has a swimming pool, and students swim once a week.

  • Port Jefferson Middle School (6th to 8th)
  • Earl L. Vandermeulen High School (9th to 12th)

aka Port Jefferson High School

The Port Jefferson "Royals" compete in Section XI athletics.

In 2007, the district was named one of America's "Best 100 Communities for Music Education" by the NAMM foundation.

Port Jefferson UFSD is bordered on the west by Three Village CSD, on the south by Comsewogue UFSD, and on the east by Mount Sinai UFSD.


Port Jefferson is home to an annual Charles Dickens Festival, since the early 1990s, early in December. This typically includes many events and occurrences, such as the regular sighting of people who dress in 19th century clothing, house tours, the reading of winter-related poetry, caroling, and booths set up by local businesses. Students from the Port Jefferson Middle School and High School submit poetry and art that are used in the festival. Free concerts of seasonal music by various ensembles are presented at the Methodist church.

As well as this festival, many small festivals are held during the summer, showcasing music and crafts. Each Fourth of July sees a substantial parade on Main Street.

The Port Jefferson School District also has an agreement with Comsewogue School District to send its upper port students to Comsewogue Schools.


As of the census of 2000, there were 7,837 people, 2,985 households, and 1,982 families residing in the village. The population density was 2,587.2 people per square mile (998.6/km²). There were 3,074 housing units at an average density of 1,014.8/sq mi (391.7/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 91.97% White, 1.67% African American, 0.04% Native American, 3.33% Asian, 1.70% from other races, and 1.29% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.21% of the population.

There were 2,985 households out of which 26.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.2% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.6% were non-families. 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the village the population was spread out with 20.0% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 28.9% from 45 to 64, and 14.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 93.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.6 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $65,119, and the median income for a family was $83,981. Males had a median income of $57,125 versus $41,936 for females. The per capita income for the village was $33,852. About 3.9% of families and 7.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.3% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.


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