Did you know where the first private telephone line on Long Island was installed? Did you know that the first credit card was issued by a bank based on Long Island? How about that a real estate mogul planned to turn Montauk into the Miami of the north? Here are all sorts of facts about Long Island businesses you might not have known.
The first ATM
The nation's first ATM was installed at a Chemical Bank in Rockville Centre. The famous Chemical name vanished from the banking landscape in the 1990s when it bought Chase, and kept that name instead. This is a Chemical branch in Babylon Village on June 6, 1978.
The Glen Street Drugstore
The Glen Street Drugstore in Glen Cove is long, long gone. But it lives on in business history. The store's claim to fame: When Henry A. Roberts installed a private telephone line at the drugstore in 1881, it became the first to have a private telephone line. By 1889, Glen Cove had 17 phones. Pictured is a 1907 telephone.
Grumman dominates, fades
For decades, Grumman represented all that was strong in Long Island's economy. In the 1980s, aircraft manufacturing employed 80,000 here. But as that decade came to a close, many jobs were lost. Between 1986 and 1997, the defense industry on Long Island lost 49,000 jobs, according to the state labor department, and Grumman's fall represented the sea change in the economy. The Bethpage company had been LI's top private employer for six decades, but Grumman didn't recover once the Tomcat program was closed in 1992. It would later sell itself to Northrop. Pictured is a Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft on display at Grumman Memorial Park in Calverton.
Bethpage Federal Credit Union
Bethpage Federal Credit Union turned 75 in 2016. It was created in 1941 to serve Grumman employees.
America's first supermarket was in Queens
King Kullen remains a force on Long Island, where the chain is famous. It's also well known for being America's first supermarket. But it's first store wasn't in what is now considered the LI market. The first King Kullen was in Jamaica, Queens. There are no New York City-based stores today.
Roosevelt Field Mall was an early failure
Here is what a barren Roosevelt Field looked like in 1955, as construction began of Macy's largest suburban store in the east. The famed Roosevelt Field mall would open in 1956 as an open-air mall, with space for 11,000 cars. For years, it struggled, losing $8 million in total in 1962 and 1963, but its fortune turned around in 1968 when the shopping center was enclosed.
Multiple airports in Babylon
Long Island's aerospace history is rich, as are the number of airports that have disappeared over the years. For example, while East Farmingdale's Republic Airport remains, two other Babylon Town airports have faded away. One was Zahn's in North Amityville. The other was Deer Park Airport, which closed in 1974, giving way to suburban sprawl and condominiums. The airport was located near where Commack Road and Grand Boulevard meet, near what is now a condo complex, strip mall and outlet center. Deer Park Airport lives on in miniature form, seen here at town holiday train exhibition in 2014.
F-14 Tomcat kept thousands employed
The Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft, on display at Grumman Memorial Park in Calverton, kept thousands of Long Islanders employed for decades. The line was Grumman's most important program, employing about 5,000 people throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and represented about 20 percent of the company's $4 billion in annual sales. By 1992, the Tomcat program would end, and in 1994, rival Northrop Corp. of Los Angeles would buy Grumman.
Long Island's largest employer
According to a 2016 Newsday study, Northwell Health is Long Island's largest employer with 31,153 total workers in the Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Largest non-health care, non-government employer
Long Island's largest employer that isn't a health-care or government entity? According to the same study, it's Stop & Shop, with 8,100 workers after its acquisition of Waldbaum's. Stop & Shop is the only non-health care or government entity among Long Island's eight largest employers.
Montauk was nearly like Miami Beach
When it was built in 1927 by Carl Fisher, one of the developers of Miami Beach, Montauk Manor was pitched by marketing literature back then as “the most fabulous resort ever imagined in the Western world.” Montauk Manor was just part of what Fisher had planned for the East End. He planned to turn Montauk into another Miami Beach, but the stock market collapse of 1929 and a big drop in Florida property prices put an end to his plan.
Historic bombers built at Republic
Mighty F-105 Thunderchief fighter bombers were built at Republic Aviation in Farmingdale in the early 1960s with a mission to use tactical nuclear weapons if the Cold War ever went hot. Instead, several years later, they would be deployed to Vietnam. The original control tower in the background still stands at Republic Airport.
First family-owned department store
In 1842, Hildreth's Department Store in Southampton would become the first family-owned and operated department store in America. The store is still going strong at 51 Main St. in Southampton.
The nation's first credit card, drive-up window
Long Island's Franklin National Bank claimed to have created the nation's first drive-up bank window and also issued the country's first credit card. Unfortunately for Franklin, its record setting didn't end there. The bank's collapse on Dec. 9, 1974, was, at the time, the nation's largest U.S. bank failure. Seen here is the interior of the Franklin National Bank in Southampton on Dec. 6, 1973.
The Book Revue was much smaller
While many bookstores struggle, Robert, left, and Richard Klein, co-owners of the Book Revue in Huntington, continue to draw famous people to their independent store. The Book Revue, which opened in 1977 is now five times the size it was when it first opened.
17,447 homes in Levittown
The first major residential development on Long Island were the homes developed by William J. Levitt in the late 1940s in what is now Levittown. That's well publicized. But do you know how many homes were part of Levitt's development? The answer: 17,447, and all were sold at well below market value.
North Fork Bank: LI's biggest bank
North Fork Bank kept Long Island banking on the national map. For years, John Kanas expanded the Melville-based financial institution, and by the time he was done acquiring Greenpoint Bank, North Fork had become one of the 20 biggest banks by deposits in the United States. The joy ride ended in 2006, when bank chief Kanas agreed to sell the company to Capital One in 2006. Capital One's ubiquitous branches are North Fork's legacy.