I was in Long Island this last week and was able to visit a few historical sites as well as enjoy the natural surroundings of island. Long Island is steeped in history and despite its close proximity to New York City, in many locations it is still rural, quiet and feels like much of it’s past is still present. I only had a few days in town, but here are the highlights:
1) A ferry to Shelter Island…very different than Washington ferries, these fit about 15 cars and gets you are across the water in just a few minutes. There are so many bays, harbors and marinas filled with boats throughout Long Island, it was easy to imagine how fishing and boat building were profitable industries in the 18th and 19th centuries. Regret: I wish I had time to visit one of the 21 lighthouses on the island.
2) A visit to Old Westbury Mansion Gardens. A beautiful turn of the century mansion owned by the Phipps family who through wise investments survived the 1929 crash. The gardens are lovely!
3) Setauket – My favorite history excursion was going to Setauket where Abraham Woodhull lived and created a spy network during the Revolutionary War. He and his fellow spies gathered critical intelligence about the British and passed it on to Major Benjamin Tallmadge via courier Caleb Brewster. Abraham is buried at the Setauket Presbyterian Church where Benjamin Tallmadge’s father was the minister. The Brewster House is just down the road from the church where Caleb Brewster’s cousin lived and where he visited regularly. It was fun to see the town of Setauket and compare the area to “Turn” the AMC TV show. The show definitely takes a lot of artistic license in the plot, but it is still does a good job of portraying the personalities and tensions of the time. For those you who are interested in what is fact and what is fiction, you should read the blog “Turn to the Historian” by Spycurious, J.L. Bell’s articles on the “Den of Geek” or the book Washington’s Spies by Alexander Rose. Definitely fun for the history nerd!
I hope my travels take me back to Long Island again. It’s a wonderful place to see all time periods and to relax in the present.