Roosevelt Field through the years

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Roosevelt Field is home to one of the country's biggest shopping malls, but it wasn't always that way. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh embarked on his transatlantic flight to Paris from Roosevelt Field. Once used as a U.S. military aviation training ground, it was named for Lt. Quentin Roosevelt, son of President Theodore Roosevelt. Quentin trained there and was later killed, during World War I, during aerial combat over France. Roosevelt Field also hosted the first harness racetrack on Long Island, with the opening of Roosevelt Raceway in 1940. The raceway remained open until 1988, and through the years was also used as a concert venue and a flea market. Today, the properties that sit on the original footprint host armies of shoppers, many unaware of the area's past incarnations. Take a look back through Newsday's archives to see how the iconic site has evolved.

Soldiers train at Roosevelt field in July of
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Soldiers train at Roosevelt field in July of 1942.

In this 1942 photo, enlisted men spend leisure
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In this 1942 photo, enlisted men spend leisure time reading and relaxing in their bunks at Roosevelt Field when it served as a military airfield.

Three mechanics work on a plane in 1942
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Three mechanics work on a plane in 1942 at Roosevelt Field, which was used by the military for aviation training.

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A group of Air Force mechanic trainees applaud
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A group of Air Force mechanic trainees applaud a guest speaker visiting them at the airfield that was Roosevelt Field on Aug. 18, 1943. Not pictured: The visiting speaker, World War l pilot, Maj. Al Williams

Trainees at Roosevelt Field march to witness an
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Trainees at Roosevelt Field march to witness an aviation demonstration by visiting World War l pilot, Maj. Al Williams on Aug. 18, 1943. The men were said to be singing such songs as "She's a Grand Old Flag" while marching.

On Aug. 18, 1943, Air Force mechanic trainees
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On Aug. 18, 1943, Air Force mechanic trainees stationed at Roosevelt Field march back to their classes after a flying demonstration by famed World War l aviator Maj. Al Williams.

In this picture from 1950, Daphne Hall of
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In this picture from 1950, Daphne Hall of Levittown stops to read the plaque commemorating Lindbergh's 1927 transatlantic flight from Roosevelt Field to Le Bourget Field in France. The plaque can be seen today on Post Avenue near the entrance to what was Roosevelt Raceway.

The Air Ambulance takes off for its final
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The Air Ambulance takes off for its final flight from Roosevelt Field on June 11, 1951 before it closed as an airfield.

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On May 31, 1951, Lewis H. Miller takes
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On May 31, 1951, Lewis H. Miller takes down a windsock with the assistance of police Sgt. Scotty Begg of Carle Place. This was the last day that Roosevelt Field would operate as an airfield.

Aerial view of empty hangars at Roosevelt Field,
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Aerial view of empty hangars at Roosevelt Field, which closed to flying on June 11, 1951. Zahn's Airport in Amityville inherited many of the flights, and aircraft, no longer using Roosevelt Field.

Two men observe demolition of hangars at Roosevelt
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Two men observe demolition of hangars at Roosevelt Field on March 26, 1956.

Roosevelt Field Inc. president Herbert I. Silverson, along
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Roosevelt Field Inc. president Herbert I. Silverson, along with Ice Capades stars Helga Rosma and Cathy Machado, are seen here at the groundbreaking for an ice skating rink on the property on Sept. 11, 1957.

Hangar 16, which once housed Lindbergh's plane, The
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Hangar 16, which once housed Lindbergh's plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, is reduced to rubble as seen in this April 6, 1956 picture.

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On April 18, 1952, workers loaded hay onto
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On April 18, 1952, workers loaded hay onto a truck for the horses at Roosevelt Raceway.

In this March 20, 1962, Abe Simon of
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In this March 20, 1962, Abe Simon of Bayside yells for his horse in the third race at Roosevelt Raceway. Simon was a former heavyweight boxer who lost to Joe Louis twice, and who worked in public relations for the raceway.

Spectators watch the races on the season's opening
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Spectators watch the races on the season's opening night at Roosevelt Raceway in August 1957.

On Oct. 12, 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy
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On Oct. 12, 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy waves to crowd on his arrival at Roosevelt Raceway, where he stopped to make a campaign speech. To his left is Otis Pike, a Riverhead Democrat who would go on to serve nine terms in Congress.

Fans watch the contenders in an early race
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Fans watch the contenders in an early race at Roosevelt Raceway, on March 20, 1962.

On March 27, 1963, two women look at
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On March 27, 1963, two women look at former airplane hangars on Old Country Road in Westbury that were to be made into a film studio owned by the Myerberg family.

Joseph Lynch, vice president of Roosevelt Raceway and
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Joseph Lynch, vice president of Roosevelt Raceway and director of mutuels looks over the $132,000 pile of bills that awaits the winner of the biggest double double in the track's history on April 28, 1964.

On May 22, 1967, racing fans hone their
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On May 22, 1967, racing fans hone their handicapping skills on the season's opening night at Roosevelt Raceway.

A winged
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A winged "R" relief was all that remained of the old hangars at Roosevelt Field on June 16, 1971.

Horses head into the sunset at Roosevelt Raceway
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Horses head into the sunset at Roosevelt Raceway during the first race on opening day for the season in July 1978.

Overview of Roosevelt Raceway as seen from Zeckendorf
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Overview of Roosevelt Raceway as seen from Zeckendorf Boulevard. The photo was taken on July 15, 1988, when it was announced that the raceway was going out of business.

This March 30, 1967 photo shows the entrance
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This March 30, 1967 photo shows the entrance to the Roosevelt Field shopping mall, and also the Lever building, where plans were being made to house the Eastern Regional Weather Bureau, which was relocating from its offices at Kennedy Airport. The 16-state regional office became the first tenant in the building on Stewart Avenue.

This jam-packed mall parking lot at Roosevelt Field
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This jam-packed mall parking lot at Roosevelt Field for the start of the Christmas shopping season was captured on Nov. 24, 1970.

A shopper pauses at a display window in
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A shopper pauses at a display window in Roosevelt Field on Feb. 2, 1972.

Shoppers meander about Roosevelt Field Mall on a
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Shoppers meander about Roosevelt Field Mall on a slow Sunday in September, 1976.

On April 12, 1981, bad weather forced about
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On April 12, 1981, bad weather forced about half the vendors to move indoors at the Roosevelt Raceway flea market.

Some stores were open, some closed at Roosevelt
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Some stores were open, some closed at Roosevelt Field on Memorial Day in 1972. Shown here are adjacent shoes stores Miles (open) and Hanovers (closed). While Memorial Day holiday shopping was gaining in popularity, groups such as the American Legion opposed the practice as disrespectful to war dead. Some localities on Long Island still had ordinances prohibiting stores from opening on Sundays and holidays.

Shoppers at Roosevelt Field Mall check out the
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Shoppers at Roosevelt Field Mall check out the deals on Nov. 26, 1973.

Overview of the jammed parking lot at the
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Overview of the jammed parking lot at the North end of Roosevelt Field on Presidents' Day, February 15, 1988.

At the time this aerial view of the
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At the time this aerial view of the Roosevelt Raceway Flea Market was taken on August, 7, 1994, talks were in progress to move the market to The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

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