Huntington, New York is located in the northwest corner of Suffolk County on Long Island at 40.8° North and 73.4° West. The city's current population is about 196000. The "town" of Huntington includes Centerport, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Dix Hills, East Northport, Eaton's Neck, Elwood, Fort Salonga, Greenlawn, Halesite, Half Hollow Hills, Huntington Station, Huntington Village, Melville, South Huntington and West Hills.
The town of Huntington was originally part of the lands of the Matinecock tribe. In 1653, Richard Holbrook, Robert Williams and Daniel Whitehead of Oyster Bay bought part of the area from the head of the Matinecock tribe. This part of the town is now called "the First Purchase." The three men from Oyster Bay then gave the land deed to people that had already begun to build a settlement on that piece of land. As time went on, the settlers continued to buy bits and pieces of land from the Matinecocks, eventually spanning the island from the sound to the ocean between Oyster Bay and Islip.
The original settlement in the area was around the current location of the village green. The natural harbors of the area were perfect for shipbuilding, and soon the port of Huntington was trading with other villages on Long Island Sound, as well as some limited trade with the West Indies. Most of the original settlers to the area came from Massachusetts and Connecticut. These settlers felt a much stronger connection to New England than to the neighboring Dutch colony of Nieuw Amsterdam, and voted to be administered by Connecticut. The first local government took the form of a town meeting in 1657.
In 1664, the Dutch ceded their claim to Nieuw Nederland to the British, who gave administration of the new colony to the Duke of York. New York was soon organized, with the duke informing Connecticut that Long Island was now under the administration of his colony. Huntington was incorporated with Staten Island and Westchester into "Yorkshire" which the duke then split into three pieces for administration.
In June of 1774, Huntington adopted a "Declaration of Rights" saying that taxation without representation was a "violation fo the rights of British citizens." Two years later, these ideas were a part of the Declaration of Independence. The citizens of Huntington were originally excited about independence, but this enthusiasm was short lived. A month later, the rebel forces were defeated by a British landing party at The Battle of Long Island, and the entire island was occupied by British forces. People living there were forced to pledge allegiance to the crown, or risk losing their property. Even with a fierce resistance movement, Huntington would remain occupied by the British until 1783.
During this time, Nathan Hale crossed the Long Island Sound from Norwalk into Huntington. His mission was to spy on the British army that occupied the western half of the island, and to find information about an impending attack on Manhattan. The spot where he landed is called Halesite, and is marked with a memorial.
Huntington is the birthplace of Walt Whitman. Born in West Hills, Whitman's family moved to Brooklyn when he was small. He returned to Huntington at age 19, and started The Long-Islander newspaper, which is still in print today. The Walt Whitman House is located in Huntington, and is open to the public as a museum in his honor.
The Long Island Railroad reached Huntington in 1842. While Huntington was accessible by road and steamship, the railroad made weekend trips from New York City much easier. Cold Spring Harbor soon became a popular summer resort for city-dwellers.
The end of World War II brought a population boom to Huntington and the rest of Long Island. The close proximity of Huntington to New York City quickly made it into a prime suburban location. Between 1940 and 1960, the population in Huntington grew by 100000 people. By the 1980's, the population of the town had reached the 200000 mark. Subdivisions spread across the area, taking up lands formerly occupied by farms and forests.
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