Have you ever wondered where Long Island towns got their names?
From Copiague to Quogue and everything in between, we've uncovered the origins of your hometown using municipal websites, information from historical societies and Newsday archives.
Do you have any fun facts about your community that you'd like to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Puritan Thomas Powell was responsible for the naming of Bethpage and took his inspiration from the Bible. Bethpage lies between Jericho and Wantagh, which was once known as Jerusalem. Powell gave the land between it the name "Bethphage" after the town that lies between the two in the Bible.
Shelter Island lived up to its name through the centuries. The Manhanset people called the land Manhansack-aha-quash-awamock, which meant "an island sheltered by islands." Shelter Island later became a haven for Quakers escaping religious persecution in the rest of the New England-area colonies.
Before it was sprinkled with the super rich, Muttontown was full of sheep. The village got its name for the livestock that used to roam its pastures during the Colonial Era.
One of the busiest hubs on Long Island began as land owned by Valentine Hicks, the son-in-law of prominent abolitionist Elias Hicks. In the 1830s, Hicks turned the area into a train station stop on the Long Island Rail Road. After World War II, it grew into the bustling mini city it is today.
Generations of locals were eager to trace this island's name back to circus magnate P.T. Barnum. However, the closest thing to the merriment of a circus on Barnum Island is the Nunley's Ferris wheel. The island is actually named for Long Island landowner and New York City clothier Peter C. Barnum. His widow, Sarah Ann Baldwin Barnum, purchased Barnum Island, then called Hog Island, and the area was renamed in her honor.
Two local legends feed the story behind the naming of Amityville, according to the village. In one tale, a fiery debate erupted in a village meeting about a name for the post office. One resident finally said, "What this meeting needs is some amity." In another version, mill owner Samuel Ireland suggested the name after his boat, the Amity.
The first mass-produced suburb in America bears the name of the man who created it. Levittown is named for William Levitt, whose assembly line homes gave thousands of World War II veterans a place to live at a fair price. His work led to Time magazine naming him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
Gardiners Island is named for Lion Gardiner, who, in addition to having a first name that evokes strength and grandeur, was one of the original European settlers on Long Island. Gardiner made his home on the island in 1639, and the name stuck. This photo shows Gardiner's tomb, which was built in 1886 and designed by James Renwick Jr.
Before it was known for its oysters and its brewery, Blue Point was known to baymen for its color, according to local stories. As baymen would return to the port, they noticed a bluish haze over the area, which eventually took on the descriptive name Blue Point.
While it's easy to guess the namesake of Port Jefferson, residents took a few tries before landing on that name. It was first known as Sowasset, a Native American word meaning either "place of small pines" or "where water opens." It was renamed Drowned Meadow in 1682 and remained so until 1836, when the villagers voted to rename the area in honor of President Thomas Jefferson.
The name Remsenburg-Speonk serves as a reminder of an unresolved debate in the community. Speonk, which translates to "high place" in the Shinnecock language, had retained its original Native American name for centuries. After Dr. Charles Remsen donated a brick Presbyterian church to the village in 1854, some residents sought to rename the area in his honor. The idea outraged and confused many who preferred the old name of the village, whose name remains hyphenated to this day.
Carle Place began as Carle's place, a large home in Westbury that belonged to Silas Carle. When the first Long Island Rail Road trains rolled through the area, riders would get off for "Carle's Place," the name given to the home and surrounding area.
The man who inspired Baldwin's name is not an ancestor of the famed Hollywood family. These Baldwins were one of the first Europeans to settle in Hempstead and are the namesakes of the community. One member of the family, F.W. Baldwin, was a politician in the area and keeper of the Baldwin Inn, which sat at Merrick Road and Grand Avenue.
Original names: Norwood, Malvern
In between its years as Norwood and Malverne, the village now known for its famous groundhog was called "Malvern." Its original spelling was Old English for "green mall" or "green park." The decision to add an "e" to the end of its name, whether a mistake or calculated change, remains a mystery today.
Half Hollow Hills
Original name: Half Way Hollow valley
When traveling east from Melville on Half Hollow Road, travelers used to pass through Half Way Hollow valley, named for its location roughly halfway between the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound. Over time, the area's name was shortened with "way" being dropped, turning into Half Hollow Hills.
When settlers first purchased the land in the late 1600s, they continued the tradition of referring to the entire region as Aquebogue. The Indian word "Aquebogue" means "head of the bay" or "cove place."
In 1689, this area was called "Dicke Pechagans" after an American Indian named Dick Pechagan built his wigwam and planted fields north of Half Hollow Hills. Over the years, the area's name was shortened to "Dick's Hills." Eventually the spelling was shortened to Dix, creating Dix Hills.
Village of Asharoken
The Village of Asharoken gets its name from Chief Asharoken, leader of the Matinecock Indians who lived in the area. The name became permanent due to the clever marketing of William Codling, a Northport lawyer and large landowner, who marketed a development he called "Asharoken Beach," where he lived in the model home. By 1915, it was a summer resort for upper-class families.
Original name: Horse Neck
Once known as "Horse Neck" because Huntington's farmers grazed their horses here, the Village of Lloyd Harbor is named after Boston merchant James Lloyd. In 1684, Lloyd became the sole owner of Horse Neck. It was later annexed to the Town of Oyster Bay as Lloyd Neck.
Original name: Lakeland
The Village of Bohemia was named by a handful of Czech immigrants who moved to the United States to start a new life. One immigrant purchased 5 acres of farmland roughly 50 miles east of New York City in area then known as Lakeland. They later renamed it Bohemia after a region in the Czech Republic.
Whose neck? Matinecock Chief Asharoken sold the land known today as Eatons Neck to Theophilus Eaton, the governor of New Haven, Connecticut. The governor continued to live in Connecticut, but he was among the first to explore the area.
Hauppauge's name comes from its native residents. The Nissequogue Indians called the area Hauppauge, meaning "the land of sweet water," as in the headwaters of the Nissequogue River. The town's name may also have been derived from Winganhauppauge, which was the original name of the swampy area in nearby Islip.
After being founded in 1671, Wading River received its appellation from the Algonquian name Pauquaconsuk, which means "the river where we wade for thick, round-shelled clams."
The origin of this hamlet's name isn't too surprising. East Meadow was named for its proximity to Hempstead. That's right: It's the meadow to the east of Hempstead.
Legend has it that in 1665, Englishman Richard "Bull" Smith was permitted by a local Native American chief to keep whatever land he was able to travel across while riding his bull, Whisper. The twist? He was given only one day's time. Utilizing that classic Long Island wit, Smith waited until the longest day of the year to complete this task; thus, Smithtown was born.
Of course, as years passed, historians have concluded that this tale is mostly bull. Records indicate Smith bought the land.
Original names: Great South Woods, Coe's Neck, Washburn's Neck, Raynor South, Raynortown
Although Freeport was founded by settler Edward Raynor in 1659, the town received its current name in 1853 when postal authorities established the current appellation of Freeport with a post office. The name is believed to be inspired by the fishermen and transporters who preferred docking and unloading in the village's "free port," unlike New York Harbor, where duties were levied on cargo.
Original names: Rockconcomuck, Raconkamucik
The name Ronkonkoma comes from a Native American word meaning "boundary fishing place."
Original name: Sweet Hollow
Melville may take its name from one of two origins: Either Herman Melville, the author of "Moby Dick," or "mel," which is the Latin word for honey. The latter plays on the huge population of honeybees in the area at the time. Melville, which has been Newsday's home since 1977, received its name in 1854.
This town name comes from the Algonquian word for "land at the mouth of the river."
In 1906, real estate developer Helen Marsh started the process of transforming the acreage that would be ultimately incorporated as the Village of Bellerose in 1924. Although unconfirmed, it is believed that the community's appellation was taken from a sign on a bordering gladiola farm previously named "Bellerose." Joseph Rose, a flower farmer, also possibly had a daughter named Belle whose name may have been the inspiration.
Although the word "Hewlett" is inspired from the Hewlett family that farmed and lived in the area that today holds Hewlett and the incorporated villages of Hewlett Neck, Hewlett Harbor and Hewlett Bay Park, Hewlett Harbor received its distinct appellation from the Seawane Corporation, a company that acquired the estate once belonging to a celebrated lawyer named Joseph S. Auerbach. He originally purchased the land in 1900 for a summer residence. After the sale of his property in 1925, the Auerbach estate mostly remained country club grounds, but the new owners sold 2 square miles of the property to be developed for residential purposes, which became Hewlett Harbor. The Village of Hewlett Harbor incorporated that same year.
Original names: Barnum Island, Hog Island, Jekyll Island
The Island Park-Long Beach Corporation company bought the property in 1921 that was then known as Barnum Island, a name bestowed by Queens County in honor of Sarah Ann Baldwin Barnum, who had purchased the island in 1874. Hog Island was a name used as early as the 17th century, possibly due to the presence of pigs introduced by European colonists. By 1923, the tract was renamed Island Park by its new owners, and that name remained after most neighborhoods within the community incorporated as a village in 1926.
Original name: Pearsall's Corners
Originally named for the owner of a general store located on the intersection of Merrick Road, Hempstead Avenue, Broadway and Atlantic Avenue, Lynbrook's name change came along in 1894. Many of the residents came from Brooklyn, and community leaders found inspiration from Brooklyn by co-opting the name but applying a syllable switch (Brook-lyn to Lyn-brook).
Original name: Seaman's Neck, Jerusalem South
This Nassau community was named to honor its founder, John Seaman. But the title doesn't derive from his last name: Seaman was a native of Seaford, East Sussex, in England.
According to the Town of Oyster Bay website, voyager David deVries penned the following entry in his diary in 1639: "On June 4, I anchored in a commodious haven on the north of Long Island. We found fine oysters there, from which the Dutch call it Oyster Bay." The rest is history.
In 1664, the settler Matthias Nicoll named the town after his village of Islip in Northamptonshire, England.
Original name: Huntington South
Due to the amount of scrub oak, pine trees and general wildlife in the area, one early resident referred to the town in a diary entry as "the Deer Park." Be careful what you journal!
Original names: Near Rockaway, Clinktown
The Rockaway peninsula is believed to have coined its name from the Recouwacky tribe of Native Americans that inhabited the area at the time when the first European settlers arrived.
One of its original names, Clinktown -- an identification that also covered what is today Lynbrook -- either referred to a man named Clink, a Native-American of the Rockaway tribe who once lived in the area, or to local boat-building (clinker is a manufacturing technique).
The bustling village was named after a local Methodist preacher named Mordecai "Rock" Smith. He was also known as a blacksmith and a farmer in the community.
Original name: Musketa Cove
When John Carpenter of the Colony of Rhode Island purchased a large tract of land from Matinecock Indian tribe chiefs Suscanemon and Werah in May 1668 with the goal of building a home and a sawmill, the purchase retained its Matinecock-given designation of "Musketa" (which, when roughly translated, refers to its shoreline location and meadowlands) and was named Musketa Cove.
However, when 1830s-era residents showed concern that its name (which sounded a lot like "mosquito," and was occasionally misspelled as such) could be detrimental toward developing the village as a summer resort spot, a name change became a point of consideration. There is a debunked legend that tells a tale of a local with Scottish ancestry who suggested re-using the name of an area in Scotland named "Glen Coe;" when his suggestion was misheard as "Glen Cove" (and the area was already known well as a "Cove") the misunderstood appellation gained favor. However, it's now held that as the village was in a glen, the name Glen Cove was inspired.
Whatever the naming route may have truly been, by 1834 the community (incorporated as a city by 1918) became Glen Cove for good.
Huntington was most likely named in honor of Oliver Cromwell's birthplace. At the time of the community's founding in 1653, Cromwell was known as the Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
Original names: Rockaway Neck
A trio of brothers -- Newbold, Alfred and George Lawrence -- saw potential in the expanse between Far Rockaway and Woodsburgh known as Rockaway Neck that at the time was not much more than a stretch of farms and thick woodland. The siblings started buying up the area in the 1850s with plans to transform their purchase into a luxurious residential district, which was always tagged with the surname of the three operators of the fraternal development company. The Lawrence brothers' plan came to fruition, and the Village of Lawrence incorporated in September 1897.
The word Merrick comes from the Algonquin word Meroke, which means "peace." The tribe had formerly inhabited the area before European settlers founded the town in 1643.
While the spelling of the town varied, Montauk was named after the Montaukett tribe, which inhabited the easternmost tip of Long Island before European settlers purchased the land.
Yaphank was named after a creek stated in the original deed, which dates to 1664.
Original name: Ocean Point
The name Cedarhurst itself was inspired by a thicket -- or "hurst" -- of cedar trees within the community's boundaries. It was known as Ocean Point when its first Long Island Rail Road station was built in 1869.
Original name: City of Breslau
This tale of two Long Island businessmen could make for a compelling screenplay someday. Thomas Welwood traveled from Brooklyn in the 1860s to what is now known as Lindenhurst. He acquired land in the region and then met a German immigrant named Charles Schleier. By 1869, they teamed up and began selling 25-by-100-foot lots of land. Lindenhurst was originally called the City of Breslau, named for Schleier's hometown in Germany.
After years of collaboration, the Welwood-Schleier partnership deteriorated. They even fought each other in court, which led to some people losing their homes. This led to so much resentment in the town that residents fought to change the name. In 1891, Lindenhurst was selected in honor of the linden trees on -- you guessed it -- Wellwood Avenue. The misspelling of Welwood's last name is the only noticeable result of the founders' feud.