YOUNG ISRAEL SYNAGOGUES IN HUNTINGTON, NY:
Israel of Huntington
598 Park Avenue
Huntington, New York 11743
Tel: 631 944-6751
Fax: 516 922-9584
Rabbi Yoel Adelman
Andrew Hajdu, President, 516 922-1551, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated on: July 21, 2008
By: Dr. Andrew Hajdu
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The Town of Huntington is one of ten towns in Suffolk County, New York, USA. Founded in 1653, it is located on the north shore of Long Island in northwestern Suffolk County, with Long Island Sound to its north and Nassau County adjacent to the west. Huntington is part of the New York metropolitan area. As of the United States 2010 Census, the town population was 203,264.
Most of the early settlers were English people who came to Huntington by way of Massachusetts and Connecticut. As a result, they felt more of a kinship with New England than with their Dutch neighbors to the west in New Amsterdam. The town in fact voted in 1660 to place itself under the jurisdiction of Connecticut to gain some protection from the Dutch. Following the custom of New England, the earliest form of government in Huntington was the Town Meeting. Called as the need arose, free men of the town gathered to distribute town-held land, resolve disputes, regulate the pasturing of cattle on town land, engage schoolmasters, appoint someone to keep the ordinary (public house) and maintain the roads, as well as resolve any other matters that concerned the town as a whole. For example, the people of Huntington showed their interest in education very soon after the founding of the town. The Town Meeting voted on February 11, 1657 to hire Jonas Houldsworth as the first schoolmaster. In 1660 the town voted to build a schoolhouse.
When in 1664 the Duke of York became proprietor of the area formerly known as New Netherland, he (in the person of Governor Richard Nicolls) informed Connecticut that by virtue of his royal patent they no longer had any claim to any territory on Long Island. Governor Nicolls summoned representatives of each town on Long Island to meet in Hempstead early in 1665. The representatives were required to bring with them evidence of title to their land and to receive new grants affirming that title. The Hempstead Convention also adopted "The Duke's Laws" which regulated virtually every area of life. At this time, too, Long Island, Staten Island and Westchester were formed into an entity called "Yorkshire," which was divided into three parts, or "ridings," as land was divided in England. What is now Suffolk County, including Huntington, became part of the East Riding. With some modifications, including the abolition of "Yorkshire" and "ridings" this was the form that the government of New York retained until the Revolution. Huntington was incorporated by patent on November 30, 1666. This patent was renewed by Governor Thomas Dongan on August 2, 1688 and again on October 4, 1694. In addition, the 1688 patent mandated the creation of "Trustees" to manage and distribute town-owned land. The Trustees, like other town officials, were chosen at a Town Meeting. It also authorized the creation and use of a seal, which is still in use today.
In the years between the first settlement of the town and the start of the American Revolution, Huntington became an established community. The earliest settlers clustered near what became known as the "town spot", the site of the present Village Green. As the town prospered and grew, people moved to fill the outlying areas. In addition to the many farms that were established in remote as well as central portions of the town, the town included a school, a church, flour mills, saw mills, brickyards, tanneries, a town dock and a fort.
Huntington's fine harbor made shipping an important part of the economy. The harbor was a busy place, with vessels traveling not only to and from other ports along the Sound but also as far as the West Indies. Ship making and related nautical businesses prospered, since water was for many years by far the most efficient way to transport both goods and people. In the first half of the nineteenth century, Cold Spring Harbor was a busy whaling port, second on Long Island only to Sag Harbor.
In June 1774 Huntington adopted a "Declaration of Rights" affirming "that every freemans property is absolutely his own" and that taxation without representation is a violation of the rights of British subjects. The Declaration of Rights also called for the colonies to unite in a refusal to do business with Great Britain. Two years later, news of the Declaration of Independence was received with great enthusiasm in Huntington, but the euphoria was short-lived. Following the defeat of the rebel forces at the Battle of Long Island on August 27, 1776 Long Island was occupied by the British Army. Residents were required to take oaths of allegiance to the Crown. If a man refused to take the oath, he and his family could be turned off their property, losing everything. In 1782 the occupying army established an encampment in Huntington's Old Burying Ground, razing tombstones to clear the site. Not surprisingly, many townspeople resisted, waging guerilla warfare until the war was over and the British left in 1783.
Nathan Hale landed at Huntington in 1776, coming by boat from Norwalk, Connecticut on a spying mission for George Washington. Sent to gather information about the British forces on Long Island and in New York City, he was captured and executed in New York City in September 1776. A memorial stands in Halesite, the area named in his honor by a late nineteenth century real estate developer.
Huntington was formally recognized as a town on March 7, 1788, at which time Eatons Neck and Crab Meadow were annexed.
Slavery existed in Huntington until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Farmers relied on slave labor for help in the fields and it was a mark of status to have black slaves as domestic servants, but rarely did a person own more than a few slaves. For example, according to a 1755 census, there were 81 slaves belonging to 35 families in Huntington. Unlike the South, the economy was not heavily dependent on slave labor. The New York State Legislature passed an act in 1799 allowing for the gradual abolition of slavery.
The War of 1812 did not touch Huntington as had the Revolution, but the town was prepared. "On one occasion a corps of 200 militiamen marched from Huntington to Lloyd's Neck on the circulation of a report [untrue] that the British were there effecting a landing in force." In November 1814 the Town Meeting voted that $207.86 be paid by the town for costs incurred in preparing its defense.
Huntington's best-known resident, Walt Whitman, was born in South Huntington in 1819. His family moved to Brooklyn when he was a child but he returned to Long Island as a young man. At the age of 19 Walt Whitman founded The Long-Islander, a Huntington newspaper. The paper is still published every week, although it's now owned by Long Islander News.
The railroad was extended from Syosset to Northport in 1867. The arrival of the railroad in Huntington presaged the decline of the maritime economy, although shipping was important until approximately the turn of the twentieth century. Since shipping had long been an important part of the life and economy of Huntington, the town had not been unconnected to the rest of the world. With the increased accessibility of Long Island due to steamboats, trains and later automobiles, Huntington became physically less isolated. Residents of New York City were able to easily visit Huntington, as had not been possible in earlier days. Cold Spring Harbor became a popular summer resort.
When World War II ended in 1945 the population of Huntington, like that of Long Island as a whole, exploded. After almost 200 years of gradual growth, the population of the town mushroomed. Huntington had approximately 32,000 residents in 1940. By 1960 there were 126,000 inhabitants. By the 1980s the population had gone over the 200,000 mark. With the enormous growth of the town its rural landscape changed. Farms and vacant land disappeared, replaced by housing, schools, highways, recreational facilities and new and expanding business and industry.
Between the 1990 census and the 2000 census, the town lost some territory to the Town of Oyster Bay in Nassau County.
There were 65,917 households out of which 37.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.4% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.6% were non-families. 16.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.91 and the average family size was 3.26.
In the town the population was spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 25.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 96.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the town was $102,865, and the median income for a family was $113,119. Males had a median income of $61,748 versus $40,825 for females. The per capita income for the town was $36,390. About 2.9% of families and 4.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.1% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.