Great River, New York

Great River, New York
Hamlet and census-designated place

Motto: The Best Is Yet To Come

U.S. Census map
Great River, New York

Location within the state of New York

Coordinates: 40°43′29″N 73°9′36″W / 40.72472°N 73.16000°W / 40.72472; -73.16000Coordinates: 40°43′29″N 73°9′36″W / 40.72472°N 73.16000°W / 40.72472; -73.16000
Country United States
State New York
County Suffolk
Town Islip
  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 suburban hamlet and CDP in the Town of Islip, Suffolk County, New York, United States. It is situated approximately 50 miles (80 km) (55 mi driving) 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.


Great River is located at 40°43′29″N 73°9′36″W / 40.72472°N 73.16000°W / 40.72472; -73.16000 (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, New York.


For centuries, the Algonquin people inhabited Long Island. A sub-division of the Algonquins known as the Secatogue ( Mohegan (L.I.)) 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 (UK) 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. He 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.

Heckscher State Park (1,600 acres (650 ha)), named for the industrialist August Heckscher, was part of Nicoll's original estate and the location of the Nicoll Manor house. Heckscher Park's land (Nicholls Neck) was once the location of the 19th-century estates of J. Neal Plumb (original location) and in 1886 George Campbell Taylor (1,500 acres (610 ha)). This should not be mistaken for the similarly named, fairly close but much smaller (18.5 acres (7.5 ha)) national 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 (4) 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. Competing as Team River Rat.

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 (4) fire districts, two (2) 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. New members are always encouraged to join this important organization. There is also a Youth Squad program for children ages 13 to 18 to become involved in Emergency Medical Services.

Hospitals/medical centers near Great River

Membership Organizations


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 located at 3500 Sunrise Highway(originally a Grumman Aerospace site and then technology reinvigorated as "Long Island Business & Technology Center") is a sprawling 355,000-square-foot structure 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.

United States Coast Guard National Response Center (NRC) is a part of the federally established National Response System and staffed 24 hours a day by the U.S. Coast Guard. for NRC Great River, NY is the headquarters at Sunrise Business Center with > 500 employees globally. NRC is a global leader in the provision of diversified environmental, industrial, and emergency response solutions with a focus on providing best quality local service to the highest safety standards. With over twenty years’ experience in the Oil and Gas industry, NRC possesses an enviable level of technical knowledge and in-house expertise, plus can deliver an impressive array of services across unrivalled geographical areas.

St. Joseph's College (New York) 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.

St. George’s University is a private international university in Grenada, West Indies, offering degrees in medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, the health sciences, nursing, arts and sciences, and business that has its University Support Services (West) located here. St. George's University is affiliated with CItyDoctors. A minor but interesting coincidence is that Lorillard Estate and Racing Stable had a famous winning horse named Grenada in 1878.

Connetquot River

Connetquot River (a.k.a. Great River) is a six-mile-long (10 km) river particularly known for its brook, brown and rainbow trout fly fishing and Crab trapping from docks. The river flows into NYS' Nicoll Bay. Recognized by NY state as a Wild, Scenic and Recreational River Connetquot River is one of the four (4) largest rivers on Long Island.

Only the estuary portion south of Sunrise Hwy NY Rte 27 is "officially" named Connetquot River although in popular usage both the brook and river share the same name. The entire Connetquot River watershed habitat represents the largest undeveloped contiguous area within Suffolk County that covers an entire river watershed.

Connetquot River within the confines of Great River has multiple locations for enjoying the water including public and private docks and launch sites. There are three (3) public locations including one (1) with a ramp for launching mid-size trailer boats excluding Heckscher Park's county site. There are at least two (2) private sites.

Great River Ramp (a.k.a. Memorial Park) allows public access to launch mid-sized vessels from trailers. The ramp is easily recognized by the flag pole and a large memorial stone dedicated to armed forces deceased residents. Winter season adds a holiday tree and a menorah to the entrance. A couple of Adirondack chairs donated and installed by BSA Troop 205 are also at the gate.

Great River Dock is a very small park, at approximately 400 Great River Road, with open access to the river for fishing and crabbing but no boat launching at this location. Picking up or dropping people here is also prohibited. The park has stations for cutting bait and working on the crabs or fish. There are benches provided by NYS and picnic tables and Adirondack seating donated and installed by the local BSA Troop 205. A popular location for enjoying Great River Community events such as an annual holiday boat parade on Thanksgiving weekend with Fireworks by Grucci as well as Grucci fireworks at other times of the year largely sponsored by Oakdale restaurants. The park closes at dusk except for special events and is considered very safe. Great River's NYS public dock ramp on Great River Road may be contacted at Phone: 631-224-5648.

A public small sandy beach section near Nicoll Island, sometimes erroneously titled Timber Point Park due to proximity to the golf course, is water level and especially good for launching kayaks and canoes. Motorized vessels are prohibited from launching here and the shallow and sandy bottom would likely cause a "failure to launch." Great River Community Association usually sponsors an annual kayaking BBQ. Long Island schools also use it for practice of their crew teams.

Fair warning: in 2013-2017... NYS designates Nicoll Bay shellfish including crab are not even seasonally certified but are considered uncertified (not to be harvested for use as food.)

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 to 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. Its 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."

Westbrook estate has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973 as a national historic district.

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

George L. Lorillard (March 26, 1843 – 1892) was an American, New York City tobacco tycoon and a prominent Thoroughbred racehorse owner. Lorillard owned a mansion on 800 acres (3.2 km2) of Long Island, located north of Montauk Highway and west of Connetquot Road, that is now Bayard-Cutting Arboretum. He built a large stable and racing horse training track. Lorillard's racing stable was handled by horse trainer R. Wyndham Walden. They won the Preakness Stakes a record five straight years between 1878 and 1882, the Belmont Stakes in 1878, 1880, and 1881 and the Travers Stakes in 1878 and 1880. Among George Lorillard's best horses were 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. Even 2015's American Pharoah won the current American Triple Crown but finished a close second in a hard-fought Travers Stakes snapping a winning streak of eight races.

The United States Congress shut down on October 24, 1877, for a day so its members could attend "The Great Race" at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The event was a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) match race run by a trio of champions: Ten Broeck, Tom Ochiltree and Parole. Ten Broeck, the Kentucky champion, was owned by F. B. Harper. Tom Ochiltree, the Eastern champion and winner of the 1875 Preakness Stakes, was owned by George L. Lorillard. Parole, a gelding, was owned by Pierre Lorillard IV, George's brother. Parole, with jockey William Barrett up, prevailed with a late run, crossing the finish line three lengths ahead of Ten Broeck and six ahead of Tom Ochiltree, which had helped to set the early pace with legendary jockey George Barbee in the irons. An estimated 20,000 people crowded into Pimlico to witness the event. The Great Race is depicted in a four-ton stone 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



External links

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