Long Island's history, in relics
A piece of wood from the Long Beach boardwalk. A cannon from 1812. Stanley Cup banners from the Islanders dynasty. Those items are among the 18 relics we've selected to start telling Long Island's history. Check back often, because we will be adding to this as we go along. Also, if you'd like to recommend an artifact, let us know in the comments field.
A fire gong(Credit: Amy Onorato)
No, this round object isn't a piece of modern outdoor art -- it's a fire alarm and it's much older than you think. Called a "fire gong," this metal ring was hit repeatedly with a hammer to warn travelers about fires in the area. The gong dates to the early 1900s and can be found on the side of Cliff Road in Belle Terre.
A Native American hammer(Credit: David Reich-Hale )
Long Island's rich Native American history is remembered through many of the town and village names that dot the area landscape, including Manhasset, Ronkonkoma, Patchogue and Cutchogue. It's also honored at the Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center and Museum in Southampton, where this stone hammer is part of a vast collection.
Document clears the way for the Montauk Lighthouse(Credit: Tara Conry )
The Montauk Lighthouse could be Long Island's most iconic landmark, and it came to be after the federal government purchased the land now known as "The End." While the original document is tucked away at the Montauk Library, this replica of a document signed by George Washington authorizing the government to purchase the land. The item is available to view at the lighthouse museum.
War of 1812 cannons in Babylon(Credit: David Reich-Hale)
Two cannons were captured from a British warship during the War of 1812 and placed in front of the family mansion by Mrs. August Belmont, the niece of the commodore who won the battle. The cannons remain on Long Island, on the same property, which is now Belmont Lake State Park in the Town of Babylon.
Honored by the U.S. Post Office(Credit: Newsday )
Long Island's Roaring Twenties history was recognized twice in 1998, when the U.S. Postal Service released stamps dedicated to "The Great Gatsby" and Charles Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic on the "Spirit of St. Louis" from Roosevelt Field to Paris on May 20, 1927. The photos above come from Newsday's "Long Island: Our Story" book, which was released in 1998.
West Egg may not exist, but Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, the fictional town and F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" are a deep part of Long Island's literary history. The 1925 book cover is instantly recognizable today.
1909 Golden Flyer biplane(Credit: Newsday / Ken Spencer)
The Hempstead Plains were the center of the aircraft industry throughout the first part of the last century, and the Cradle of Aviation in Garden City remains the gatekeeper for all that history, which includes this Curtiss 1909 Golden Flyer Biplane. This aircraft made the region's first successful aircraft flights in 1909, near where the county courthouses now are.
World War II gas ration card(Credit: Handout)
With the nation at war in 1942, many on Long Island made sacrifices, including Leonard Witham of Oceanside. He used this ration card during World War II, when gasoline's scarcity meant that cars were used only when needed.
Levittown advertisement(Credit: Newsday / Cliff De Bear)
Seedlings of suburbia and the modern Long Island — four-room houses for returning veterans — sprouted in a part of Island Trees that would soon be called Levittown. This advertisement ran in the New York Journal-American in 1949.
The LIRR's Dashing Dan(Credit: David Reich-Hale )
Meet Dashing Dan, the star of the Long Island Rail Road logos of the late 1950s. It reflected the growing number of area commuters who used the train to go to-and-from Manhattan. A metal throwback sign is displayed in an LIRR exhibit at the Town of Babylon History Museum.
'A Love Supreme' album cover(Credit: eBay / Chris Carnahan )
John Coltrane's legendary 1964 album, "A Love Supreme," was composed in his longtime Dix Hills home. It is hailed as one of jazz's most important albums, as well as one of the most influential performances for generations of musicians. The album cover is instantly recognizable, and a big piece of Long Island's rich art history.
The Lunar Module, a miniature edition(Credit: wordcraft.net / copyrighted by S. Schneider)
Bethpage-based Grumman Corp. designed and assembled the Lunar Module, which gave the world "one giant step for mankind" when Americans landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. It is, perhaps, the greatest space accomplishment of all time, and its roots are on Long Island. Pictured is one of many toys manufactured after the event, as children throughout the nation dreamed of visiting outer space.
LILCO's switch plates(Credit: David Reich-Hale )
The Long Island Lighting Co. was part of this region for nearly 90 years. LILCO was taken over by the Long Island Power Authority in 1998, but switch plates like this one, which can especially be found in older homes, are still around as reminders of the company's long connection to Long Island.
New York Nets basketball(Credit: Handout)
Long Island's sports history runs right through Uniondale — more specifically, the Nassau Coliseum. The New York Nets played the first game in Coliseum history, a 129-121 win over the Pittsburgh Condors on Feb. 11, 1972. The iconic red, white and blue Rawlings basketball was used by the American Basketball Association. For that reason, the ball holds a dear place in basketball, and Long Island, history.
Remnants of the Kings Park psych center(Credit: Don Jacobsen)
The Kings Park Psychiatric Center operated on Long Island's North Shore for more than a century, closing its doors for good in 1996. A few buildings were removed and New York has turned some of the land into a state park. But much of it remains, including Building 93, which is pictured here.
A Shoreham nuclear plant protest pin(Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara)
Long Island has its own decommissioned power plant, and it only cost $6 billion. In arguably the worst financial deal in area history, the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant was built, thus giving Long Island its most expensive relic. The structure, in the background, remains today. This 1979 protest pin reminds us of how unpopular the plan was.
Signs from LI's greatest sports dynasty(Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara )
In 1972, the New York Islanders were a National Hockey League expansion team, where they lost lots of games at the Nassau Coliseum. Eight years later, they were a superpower. The Islanders won four-straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983, and tickets were hard to come by at what was dubbed Fort Neverlose. A replica miniature Stanley Cup banner, along with a pennant, represent one of the greatest American sports dynasties ever.
Rulers from the past(Credit: Henry Powderly )
Many larger banks have cracked the Long Island market in recent years, in some cases replacing local, Long Island-based institutions. For instance, Sag Harbor Savings Bank was bought out by New York-based Apple Bank. here is a collection of rulers from banks -- and other businesses -- of yesteryear.
LI's manufacturing stays in tune with D'Addario strings(Credit: Newsday / Alan Raia )
Long Island's manufacturing heyday, much of it from the aerospace industry, is long over. But it's not completely gone. On Smith Street in Farmingdale, D'Addario & Co. continues to develop, create and export strings for guitars and other bowed instruments. This guitar, equipped with local strings, is signed by some of rock and roll's biggest names, including the members of Metallica.
Bethpage Black's warning sign(Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)
In 2002, Bethpage Black became the first public course to host the U.S. Open. Seven years later, the event returned. The course is open to all, but the iconic sign that awaits your visit says it all ... if you don't have some real skills, go play somewhere else.
The Long Beach boardwalk(Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan)
The Long Beach boardwalk became the symbol of superstorm Sandy's destruction. It was also the mark of the region's return, when the boardwalk reopened in October 2013. This uneven and loose piece of wood represents Long Island's proud and resilient history.