Editor’s note: This article is part of a series in which Newsday attempts to answer questions from Long Islanders about life on the Island. If there’s a question you want us to answer, send it to us here.
The short answer: It’s in Ronkonkoma – or Farmingville. It depends on what you mean when you say “Long Island,” which is another burning question altogether.
The long answer: The Island is about 118 miles from New York Harbor to Montauk Point and 23 miles at its widest distance from north to south.
To calculate the center, cartographers use an application called a geographic information system. Newsday asked a Long Island-based group of GIS professionals to hunt down the exact center of the Island. They came back with a map that drops a pin on an apartment complex in Ronkonkoma – Nob Hill Condominiums at 47 Richmond Blvd., about a mile west of Lake Ronkonkoma.
“A lot of the residents love it here 'cause it’s in a central location – between the LIE and the railroads,” said Valerie Consoli, the office manager for the condominiums. “It’s convenient, but who knew it was right in the middle?”
But are Brooklyn and Queens really part of Long Island? Geographically, yes. But in our hearts and minds? Well, we didn’t think of it that way. Initially, we asked the good people at Long Island GIS to find the middle of Long Island, excluding the New York City boroughs. (We updated this article, originally published in May 2016, based on multiple requests from readers who wanted the geographic center.)
For the 2010 Census, Suffolk County created a GIS map of Long Island showing the middle of Nassau and Suffolk counties to be in Farmingville.
We asked Long Island GIS to be more specific. The model spit out a map with a pin dropped just south of Ridgewood Avenue, north of Sycamore Avenue and east of Blue Point Road.
That was the best GIS could do, but when shown the map, Keith Falkowski, who lives on the north side of Ridgewood Avenue, was convinced he could identify the exact lot.
Falkowski, 48, walked across the street and banged on his neighbor’s door.
“You always thought you were the center of the world,” Falkowski said excitedly to Ralph Swanson as he opened the door. “Well it turns out you’re the center of the Island.”
Ralph and Jane Swanson’s “little piece of heaven” sits on about three-quarters of an acre with a steep driveway and a lush backyard with a shed, fire pit and a strip of manicured lawn where Ralph practices his putting.
Though the couple have lived there for nearly 37 years and are natives of nearby Lake Ronkonkoma, the news that they could be sitting on the middle -- or very nearly the middle -- of Nassau and Suffolk counties came “as a very big surprise,” Jane said.
“It’s just not something I’ve ever thought about -- our little palace,” she said.