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Great River, New York

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Great River, New York

Great River, New York
Hamlet and census-designated place

Motto: The Best Is Yet To Come

U.S. Census map
U.S. Census map
Great River, New York is located in New York
Great River, New York
Location within the state of New York
Country United States
State New York
County Suffolk
 • Total 5.2 sq mi (13.4 km2)
 • Land 4.6 sq mi (11.9 km2)
 • Water 0.6 sq mi (1.5 km2)
Elevation 13 ft (4 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,489
 • Density 290/sq mi (110/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 11739
Area code(s) 631
FIPS code 36-30235
GNIS feature ID 0951648

Great River is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) located in the Town of Islip, Suffolk County, New York, United States. It is situated approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of New York City on the South Shore of Long Island, adjoining the Great South Bay, a water body protected from the Atlantic Ocean by one of the outer barrier islandsFire Island.

Great River's name derives from Connetquot, an Algonquian word for "Great River." It was formerly home to many wealthy families. As of the 2010 census, the population of Great River was 1,489.[1]

Great River's buildings include a New York City-style steak house in a turn of the century (20th) house, a delicatessen, a rural delivery post office and the Great River Fire Department.


  • Geography 1
  • History 2
  • Demographics 3
  • District information 4
    • Public education 4.1
    • Emergency services 4.2
    • Hospitals/medical centers near Great River 4.3
    • Membership Organizations 4.4
  • Transportation 5
  • Notable sites 6
    • Sunrise Business Center 6.1
    • Emmanuel Episcopal Church 6.2
    • Timber Point Country Club 6.3
    • Timber Point Marina 6.4
    • Bayard-Cutting Arboretum 6.5
    • Heckscher State Park 6.6
    • Lorillard Estate and Racing Stable 6.7
  • Notable residents 7
  • Films with scenes shot in Great River 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Great River is located at (40.724626, −73.159916).[2]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 5.2 square miles (13.4 km2), of which 4.6 square miles (11.9 km2) is land and 0.58 square miles (1.5 km2), or 11.46%, is water.[1] Great River CDP and the GRFD responsibilities include Heckscher State Park although most references by NY State for mailing addresses are listed as East Islip, NY.


For centuries, the Algonquin people inhabited Long Island. A sub-division of the Algonquins known as the Secatogue tribe occupied all of the area in what is now the town of Islip. Their principal villages were at West Islip (Secatogue), Bay Shore (Penataquit), and Oakdale (Connetquot).

On November 29, 1683, William Nicoll (Nicolls), founder of the Town of Islip and son of New York City Mayor Matthias Nicoll, was awarded the first royal patent to the east end of what is now the Town of Islip. Nicoll purchased land from Sachem (Chief) Winnequaheagh of Connetquot. He named his 50,000-acre (20,000 ha) plantation (an 8-by-10-mile (13 by 16 km) tract of land) "Islip Grange", in honor of his ancestral home of Islip in East Northamptonshire, England, from which Matthias emigrated in 1664. Nicoll's domain extended from East Islip to Bayport and embraced the present-day communities of Sayville, West Sayville, Oakdale, Great River, Islip Terrace, Central Islip, Hauppauge, Holbrook, Bohemia, Brentwood, Holtsville, and a portion of Ronkonkoma. Nicoll paid an annual quit-rent (tax) to Thomas Dongan, 2nd Earl of Limerick and Governor of the Province of New York, of five bushels of good winter wheat or 25 shillings payable on March 25.

Other early land patentees were Andrew Gibb (Islip hamlet), John Mowbray (Bay Shore, originally Awixa), Stephan Van Cortlandt (Sagtikos Manor), and Thomas Willets (West Islip).

William Nicholl also purchased five islands from Winnequaheagh on November 19, 1687, including Hollins Island (a.k.a. East Fire Island. The purchase was confirmed on a patent by Governor Dongan on June 4, 1688. Altogether William Nicoll acquired four patents for land – the final purchase was on September 20, 1697, issued by Governor Benjamin Fletcher. Under Col. Fletcher, piracy was a leading economic development tool in New York City's competition with the ports of Boston and Philadelphia. New York City had become a safe place for pirates (freebooters) who carried "real money" into the impoverished colony.[3]

Nicoll's estate eventually became the largest manor on Long Island.

By 1710, the colonial government passed an act to enable the precinct of Islip in the County of Suffolk to elect two assessors, a collector, a constable and a supervisor. The people had a voice. Growth, however, remained at a standstill until the Revolutionary War ended, when in the 17 years that followed there was more progress than in the 50 years preceding. This activity was partly due to the impact of American shipping.

Great River hamlet was formerly known as Youngsport. In the 1840s the Youngs family lived about one and a half miles south of Montauk Highway on Great River Road. Erastus Youngs and his family began building and repairing boats on the west shore of the Connetquot River near Great South Bay. With hardly anyone else around (21 houses), the place was called Youngsport for 30 years. Youngsport had one store and a freight station on the South Side Railroad of Long Island two miles north of it. The inhabitants were principally known as bay men. Alva Vanderbilt (later Alva Belmont), the Oakdale socialite suffragette, bought the Youngs' home and gave it to Trinity Lutheran Parish of Brooklyn, which used it as a summer camp called "Seaside Camp" for city children.[4] Youngsport Village's name was changed to Great River in either 1870[5] or 1881.[6]

William Lawrence Breeze purchased 290-acre (120 ha) "Timber Point Farm" from William Nicoll in 1883.

The Great River freight station was enhanced to a passenger station in the summer of 1897.

William Nicoll 7th (great-great-great grandson of the original William) served as School Commissioner of East Islip. He was the last owner of Islip Grange, served as Warden of Emmanuel Church in Great River for 22 years, and ministered to the small cemetery there in which he is now buried. William 7th donated part of the land on which the present East Islip Junior High School now stands.

historic district of Heckscher Park in Huntington on the North Shore of Long Island.


As of the 2010 census, there were 1,489 people, 503 households, and 403 families residing in the CDP, down from 1,546 people at the 2000 census. The population density was 323.7 per square mile (125.1/km²). There were 517 housing units at an average density of 112.4/sq mi (43.4/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 96.8% White, 0.5% Black, 0.0% Native American, 1.8% Asian, 0.3% some other race, and 0.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.2% of the population.[7]

There were 503 households, out of which 36.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.4% were headed by married couples living together, 6.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.9% were non-families. 15.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.2% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.96 and the average family size was 3.36.[7]

In the CDP the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 16.2% from 25 to 44, 35.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45.5 years. For every 100 females there were 105.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.5 males.[7]

For the period 2007–2011, the median annual income for a household in the CDP was $127,578, and the median income for a family was $176,974. Males had a median income of $80,625 versus $70,781 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $57,414. Because of high margins of error, the number of persons living under the poverty line was not known.[8]

District information

Great River votes in New York's 2nd congressional district.[9] National elections are held at the Great River Fire Department, with local election years at Timber Point Elementary School.

Great River Post Office, at 62 Great River Road (Zip code 11739), is a rural delivery post office where all mail is only delivered to P.O. boxes required to be included in one's mailing address.

Great River spans four hurricane evacuation zones.

Public education

East Islip School District UFSD serves Great River. Students in the hamlet go to Timber Point Elementary School, East Islip Middle School, and East Islip High School. The school district's colors are red and white, and athletic teams are the Redmen (no mascot.)

Timber Point Elementary School was one of four (4) L.I. National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honorees in 2012. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and non-public schools whose students achieve at very high levels. The program is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about best school leadership and teaching practices.

Emergency services

Patch of the Great River Fire Department.

The Great River Fire Department (established in 1916) is a volunteer fire department, located at 108 River Road in front of Timber Point County Park, east of the entrance to Heckscher State Park. Heckscher State Park falls within the district protected by the Great River Fire Department.

The area lies within the Suffolk County Police Department 3rd precinct.

Exchange Ambulance of the Islips (established 1951) provides 24/7 Emergency Medical Service (EMS) coverage to 45,000 residents across approximately 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq mi), including four fire districts, two school districts, Heckscher State Park, and portions of Connetquot State Park. Exchange Ambulance also provides EMS assistance to residents of Fire Island via Suffolk County Police's Marine Bureau.

Hospitals/medical centers near Great River

  • Southside Hospital (Acute Care Hospitals, voluntary non-profit–private, provides emergency services, about 5 miles away in Bay Shore)
  • Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Care Center (Acute Care Hospitals, voluntary non-profit–church, provides emergency services, about 8 miles away in West Islip)
  • Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center (Acute Care Hospitals, voluntary non-profit–private, provides emergency services, about 9 miles away in Patchogue)
  • Stony Brook University Hospital (Acute Care Hospitals, voluntary non-profit–private, provides emergency services, about 21 miles away in Stony Brook; the largest academic medical center on Long Island)

Membership Organizations

  • Great River Community Association mission is to foster, promote and protect the civic and community interests of the residents of Great River.
  • Eagle Scout, the highest achievement, has been bestowed more than 60 times since 1991 to participants from the greater Islip area.


Great River, a station on the Montauk Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, is located at Connetquot Avenue and Hawthorne Avenue between Sunrise Highway (NYS Route 27) and Montauk Highway (Route 27A).[10]

Prior to the establishment of passenger service, the site of Great River Station was occupied by a freight-only station built by the South Side Railroad of Long Island and known as Youngsport Station.[11] This was a popular stop for wealthy business men traveling to South Side Sportsmen's Club in Connetquot River State Park Preserve after the Club House Station closed in 1897.

Suffolk County Transit Bus routes 40 & 3C are connecting services.

Alternatively, Central Islip on the LIRR Ronkonkoma Branch is very close (7 miles north), with more frequent trains.

Notable sites

Sunrise Business Center

Sunrise Business Center (originally Long Island Business & Technology Center) is a sprawling 355,000-square-foot structure on Sunrise Highway offering the same technologically advanced infrastructure on Long Island that Rudin Management developed successfully at its New York Information Technology Center at 55 Broad Street in Manhattan. A link from the building's fiber-optic network to New York National Grid's network allows high-speed transmission of data – 10 billion bits of information per second – to domestic and global networks. The 82-acre site permits the construction of 787,000 square feet of additional space.

St. Joseph's College moved into 27,500 square feet of office space at Metropolitan Realty Associates' Sunrise Business Center in Great River. St. Joseph's, which has campuses in Brooklyn and Patchogue, is taking the entire 4,000-square-foot freestanding building at the complex entrance.

NRC, a global service provider of environmental, industrial and emergency response solutions is headquartered in Great River.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Emanuel Episcopal Church, the "Little Chapel", on Great River Road, became a reality in 1862 when Mr. and Mrs. William Nicoll deeded one-half acre of land. The bell in the chapel tower was inscribed with the words, "Emmanuel Church, Islip, L.I., Thou shall open my lips, O'Lord and my mouth shall show thee praise".

Located at the site of the original chapel's entrance is a stained glass window from France donated by the Plum family. Tiffany glass windows known as the Sarah Nicoll's "Crown of Heaven" and the William Nicoll's "Jewel Cross" were donated as a memorial by the Nicoll family. Other Tiffany windows were also presented to Emmanuel from 1903 to 1915.

Mr. & Mrs. W. Bayard Cutting donated the funds to build and furnish the church rectory in 1889.

Emmanuel Church Cemetery is located directly behind the church. Some of those interred there are William Nicholl VII and the financier H. B. Hollins.

In 2012 Emmanuel Episcopal Church observed a year-long 150th anniversary celebration of its founding on November 16, 1862.

Timber Point Country Club

Timber Point Golf Course is a public 27-hole regulation length, full-service facility, located south of Montauk Highway in Great River. Positioned where the Connetquot River meets the Great South Bay, golfers are treated with magnificent vistas of the South Shore that include Fire Island, Heckscher State Park, Bourne Mansion, and Oakdale. In addition to the great views, the course plays over a variety of terrain including both park and links settings.

Timber Point, rich in history, was originally an 18-hole golf course designed by the architectural team of Colt & Alison. The club was built and formed in the Roaring Twenties, along with other prominent estates that were constructed along the South Shore during that time. The original mansion now serves as the clubhouse and still over looks the 231-acre (93 ha) property much the same way it did for club founders Horace Havermeyer, Buell Hollister and W. Kingsland Macy.

In 1925 Angel de la Torre, Spain's first golf professional, agreed to travel to the United States to play in the U.S. Open. In that same year, upon the recommendations of Captain Allison (a premier architect who he had met in England), he accepted the position of golf professional at the newly built Timber Point Country Club. At one time Timber Point was in the top 100 courses in the United States.

Aside from being immensely difficult from the back tees (6,825 yards, par 71, in 1925), Timber Point probably offered about as much terrain-oriented variety as one could imagine. It front nine initially ventured near the bay, then proceeded back inland through a series of British heath-like holes, then across some Pine Valley-like sandy terrain. The inward half, which was largely constructed on reclaimed marshland, included several of the boldest holes of the course, including the 460-yard par-four eleventh (featuring three distinct driving areas), the 470-yard par-four fourteenth and the 205-yard into-the-wind fifteenth, modeled after Dr. Alister MacKenzie's famous Gibraltar hole at Moortown Golf Club, England. The sixteenth and seventeen were true seaside holes, and the 510-yard eighteenth, one of the few holes routed with the prevailing breeze, offered the aggressive player a chance to close in style.

Timber Point exists in a heavily-altered state since its present owner, Suffolk County, long ago turned it into a 27-hole (three 9-hole courses) facility. Were its original design still intact, it would surely rate very near the top of Long Island's best courses. The course is open seven days a week (in season), opening March 15 and with the last day of golf as December 30.

The Suffolk County Parks Department of Recreation & Conservation Golf Courses headquarters is located at Timber Point. Since the department's relocation here the course has had substantial improvements.

Timber Point Marina

Timber Point Marina is situated on the Great South Bay within the Timber Point Country Club, divided into two separate areas that provide a total of 153 slips, a fuel dock, sewage pump-out station, restrooms, electrical hookups and water. Transient slips are also available.

Bayard-Cutting Arboretum

Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park (690 acres (280 ha)) was part of the former Bayard Cutting Estate. Originally comprising 7,500 acres (3,000 ha) and 12 buildings, the estate of William Bayard Cutting (1850–1912) was donated as an arboretum to the State of New York by Cutting's widow and daughter, Mrs. Olivia James, "to provide an oasis of beauty and quiet for the pleasure, rest and refreshment of those who delight in outdoor beauty; and to bring about a greater appreciation and understanding of the value and importance of informal planting."

Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park consists of a notable large Tudor-style English country house called "Westbrook" and its surrounding landscaped gardens. The house was designed by architect Charles C. Haight in 1886 for William Bayard Cutting, who was an attorney, financier, real estate developer, sugar beet refiner and philanthropist. Located in the former Cutting residence are magnificent fireplaces, woodworkings, and stained glass windows.

An annex to the mansion was built in 1890 and contained a billiards room, a small organ, a gaming room and guest rooms.

The landscape design was done by Frederick Law Olmsted, popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture. Olmsted was famous for co-designing many well-known urban parks with his senior partner Calvert Vaux, including Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City.

In 1895 Cutting and his brother, Fulton, installed a golf course at Westbrook, which was the first private golf course in the United States.[12]

Currently the manor house contains the administration office and a café with a lovely open porch overlooking a great lawn rolling down to the Connetquot River.

Heckscher State Park

Heckscher State Park (1,469 acres (5.94 km2)), known as the "Home of the White-tailed Deer", is on the shore of the Great South Bay. Islip's founder, William Nicoll, originally built his Islip Grange estate on this property.

Heckscher Park was once the 19th century estate of J. Neal Plum and then George Campbell Taylor. The park was purchased by the State of New York using a donation by the affluent August Heckscher in 1929.

The park offers a beach, a boat launch, pavilions with picnic tables, a playground, playing fields, recreation programs, hiking, biking, fishing, and cross-country skiing. Unfortunately, a campground with tent and trailer sites, an olympic-sized swimming pool and a food concession are all closed due to NYS funding cuts (2015.)

The park is accessible by the Heckscher State Parkway (end of the Southern State Parkway) at the last exit, #46.

The Long Island Philharmonic plays a concert in the park every July.

Suffolk County Marathon To Support Our Veterans, initiated in 2015, starts and ends in Heckscher State Park during mid September. "Taste of Long Island" food festival begins in the park after the Marathon.

Lorillard Estate and Racing Stable

Saunterer, Vanguard, Grenada, Tom Ochiltree, and Duke of Magenta In 1878, Duke of Magenta won the Preakness Stakes, the Withers Stakes, the Belmont Stakes, and the Travers Stakes, a feat accomplished since by only two other colts: Man o' War and Native Dancer.

The bas-relief — copied from a Currier & Ives print and sculpted in stone by Bernard Zuckerman — hanging over the clubhouse entrance at Pimlico. It is 30 feet (9.1 m) long and 10 feet (3.0 m) high and is gilded in 24-karat gold leaf.

In 1884 George Lorillard sold much of his estate to William Bayard Cutting.

Notable residents

  • William Nicoll (Nicholls), an English aristocrat who was awarded a royal patent, purchased "East of Islip" surrounding land on November 29, 1683.
  • William Nicoll 3rd, known as "Lawyer Nicoll", served as Clerk of Suffolk County, New York from 1749 until his death in 1780. He erected St. Johns Episcopal Church and Cemetery (Oakdale, New York).
  • Benjamin Nicoll, brother of William Nicoll 3rd. Benjamin left a widow Charity Floyd whom eventually married the Reverend Doctor Samuel Johnson (American educator).
  • William Nicoll 4th, the fourth owner of Islip Grange, lived only 39 years. During his lifetime the Nicoll estate dwindled to 40,000 acres (16,000 ha).
  • William Nicoll 7th, School Commissioner of East Islip, was the last owner of Islip Grange. He served as Warden of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Great River for 22 years and ministered to the small cemetery there in which he is buried. William 7th also donated part of the land on which the present (2015) East Islip Junior High School now stands.
  • Frances Louisa Nicoll, wife of Civil War brevet lieutenant colonel and eventually General William Ludlow. Frances was sister to William Nicoll 7th.
  • George L. Lorillard (March 26, 1843 – 1892), tobacco manufacturer and racehorse owner
  • Marie Louise Lafarge (Lorillard), later Countess Di Agreda (Spain), was married to George L. Lorillard.
  • William Bayard Cutting, attorney, financier, real estate developer, sugar beet refiner, ferry operator, railroad baron and philanthropist, owned a 992-acre (4.01 km2) estate in Great River eventually given to the people of Long Island by Bayard Cutting's widow and daughter as Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park. Mr. Cutting was a member of the South Side Sportsmen's Club.
  • Olivia Peyton (née Murray) Cutting (1855–1949), the daughter of Bronson Murray of Murray Hill, was married to William Bayard Cutting.
  • Cutting children born in Great River:
  • Angel de la Torre, Spain's first golf professional, was golf pro at Timber Point Golf Course in 1925.
  • Philip Boyle (1961–), Republican, 2013 New York 4th Senatorial District Senator, lived in Great River at one time and is still active in the Great River Fire Department in 2015.
  • Tim Melia (1986–), born in Great River, May 15, 1986, is an American soccer player who plays for Sporting Kansas City (2015) of Major League Soccer. Melia played for the Long Island Rough Riders in the USL Premier Development League in 2007.

Films with scenes shot in Great River


  1. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Great River CDP, New York". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved 2012-12-31. 
  2. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  3. ^ Philip Ranlet, "A Safe Haven for Witches? Colonial New York's Politics and Relations with New England in the 1690s," New York History, Winter-Spring 2009 (Sep 13, 2012).
  4. ^ Trinity Lutheran Parish
  5. ^ Great River named in 1870
  6. ^ Great River named in 1881
  7. ^ a b c "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Great River CDP, New York". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved 2012-12-31. 
  8. ^ "Selected Economic Characteristics: 2007–2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (DP03): Great River CDP, New York". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved 2012-12-31. 
  9. ^ "GovTrack". Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  10. ^ LIRR Great River page
  11. ^ Youngsport-Great River Station (Arrt's Arrchives)
  12. ^ Lynn Beebe Weaver (September 1973). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Bayard Cutting Estate".  

External links

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