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Walking a lap around Bay Shore is a history lesson

Bay Shore's name stems from its proximity to

Bay Shore's name stems from its proximity to the Great South Bay. The water attracts all sorts of wildlife including herring gulls, such as this one perched on a light in a municipal parking lot. (Feb. 04, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

Anyone who walked around downtown Bay Shore Friday -- like a Newsday.com reporter shooting a photo gallery -- saw hustle and bustle, thanks to some finally accommodating weather.

The grass at Dr. George S. King Park was devoid of snow. A crew was hard at work making renovations to Matsui’s Japanese Restaurant on Main Street, and the folks at Fire Island Ferries Inc. were readying their fleet for warm-weather visitors.

Just poking around the downtown can give a visitor a strong sense of history. The Half Penny Pub on West Main Street  has a vintage sign that advertises a public telephone. It bears of the logo of Bell System, the telephone company named for Alexander Graham Bell, who is credited with the invention of the telephone. Signs like the one outside of the Half Penny were used to let the public know where they could go to use a phone back when many didn’t have one in their homes.  The company existed from 1877 to 1984, when it was broken up.

A sign at King Park spells out the hamlet's storied past. In 1695, John Mowbray, a teacher, purchased the land where the town sits from the Secatogue Indians   for the price of some eel spears. The land was first named Pentaquit, then Awixa.  When it became an incorporated village, it was  known as Mechanicsville. Later the name reverted to Pentaquit, before finally, in 1868, the village becoming Bay Shore.

Reminders of the old names still exist. Pentaquit Avenue and Awixa Avenue intersect with Main Street. Mechanicsville Road runs parallel. The name Bay Shore is fitting -- the hamlet’s proximity to the Great South Bay fills the air with salt and the skies with sea gulls.

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