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Washington Spy Trail, along Rte. 25A, could get historic status

"Turn: Washington's Spies" actor Ian Kahn, rear left,

"Turn: Washington's Spies" actor Ian Kahn, rear left, and Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), holding a microphone, in Huntington with people dressed as Long Island figures from history, including Walt Whitman and Theodore Roosevelt. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Fifty miles of Route 25A that New York State in May designated as George Washington Spy Trail would receive national historic status under legislation introduced by two Long Island congressmen.

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) Saturday stood outside his Huntington office with actor and Long Beach native Ian Kahn, who plays George Washington in AMC’s “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” which takes place in part along the trail, to announce the bill. Suozzi and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) are sponsoring the bill, which was introduced Thursday.

Bestowing the road from Great Neck to Port Jefferson with a national historic trail designation, under the auspices of the National Park Service, would promote tourism in the area, help attract federal grant money and bring recognition to a region that “played a tremendously important role in the American Revolution,” said Suozzi, who was flanked by people dressed as Walt Whitman, Theodore Roosevelt and other Long Island historical figures.

It is called a spy trail because of its role in the Culper spy ring, which was organized in Setauket during the Revolutionary War at the request of Washington and is the subject of the series.

The show mixes fact and fiction to tell the story of the 1778-83 effort, which provided American colonists with critical information about British military forces, helping them get through what Kahn called a “desperate,” underdog struggle against the British.

Giving Route 25A national trail status would help boost knowledge of Long Island’s role in the American Revolution, changing the perception that many have of the Island as little more than suburban development and traffic jams, said Philip Blocklyn, executive director of the Oyster Bay Historical Society, one of several local history groups represented at the announcement.

“Things instrumental to the success of the American Revolution took place here,” he said. “I think our role in American history and culture is underrepresented. It’s such a rich legacy.”

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