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Brookhaven, New York

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Brookhaven, New York

Brookhaven, New York
Town of Brookhaven
Seal of the Town of Brookhaven, dating to 1686
Seal of the Town of Brookhaven, dating to 1686
Location of Brookhaven in Suffolk County, New York
Location of Brookhaven in Suffolk County, New York
Country United States
State New York
County Suffolk
Settled 1655
Incorporated 1686
 • Type Civil Township
 • Supervisor Edward P. Romaine
 • Total 531.5 sq mi (1,376.6 km2)
 • Land 259.3 sq mi (671.6 km2)
 • Water 272.2 sq mi (705.1 km2)
Elevation 79 ft (24 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 486,040
 • Density 1,822/sq mi (703/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 11719, 11733, 11772, 11776, 17777, 11790, 11794
Area code(s) 631
FIPS code 36-10000
GNIS feature ID 0978758
Website .org.brookhavenwww

The Town of Brookhaven is the most populous and one of the ten towns of Suffolk County, New York, United States. Part of the New York metropolitan area, it is located approximately 50 miles from Manhattan. It is the only town in the county that stretches from the North Shore to the South Shore of Long Island. It is the largest of New York State's 932 towns (by area with water), and the second most populous, exceeded only by the town of Hempstead.[1] Brookhaven is the anglicized name of its first settlement, Setauket. Founded as a group of agricultural hamlets in the mid-17th century, Brookhaven first expanded as a major center of shipbuilding. Its proximity to New York City facilitated a post-war population boom, leading to its 2010 census record of 486,040 people.[2] It is home to the Stony Brook University and the Brookhaven National Laboratory.


  • Geography 1
  • History 2
    • Origins and etymology 2.1
    • Development 2.2
    • Modern history 2.3
  • Demographics 3
  • Economy 4
  • Education 5
  • Government and politics 6
  • Communities and locations 7
    • Villages (incorporated) 7.1
    • Hamlets (unincorporated) 7.2
    • Physical features 7.3
    • Other communities 7.4
    • Attractions 7.5
  • Transportation 8
    • Railroad lines 8.1
    • Bus service 8.2
    • Major roads 8.3
    • Airports 8.4
    • Ferries 8.5
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Aerial view of Port Jefferson Harbor

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 531.5 square miles (1,376.6 km²), of which 259.3 square miles (671.6 km²) is land and 272.2 square miles (705.1 km² or 51.22%) is water. It is the largest town in New York in terms of total area. Excluding water, however, there are four towns in the state with more land area: Webb in Herkimer County, Long Lake in Hamilton County, Arietta in Hamilton County, and Ohio in Herkimer County.

It has coastline on both the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound. Riverhead and Southampton lie to the east, and Smithtown and Islip lie to the west.

A large part of Fire Island (accessible by a bridge at Smith Point) and the Great South Bay are in the town.

Bald Hill, a large hill in the hamlet of Farmingville, marks where the glacier which formed Long Island stopped. At the top of Bald Hill is a Vietnam veterans memorial. Telescope Hill, to the west of Bald Hill Cultural Park, is slightly taller at 334 feet (102 m) above sea level and the highest point in the town.


Origins and etymology

The c. 1665 Brewster House is the oldest extant structure in the Town of Brookhaven and is within the town's first settlement, Setauket

The first known inhabitants were Algonquian-speaking Native Americans, of the Setauket and Unkechaug tribes. The first English settlers arrived around 1640, and in 1655, several purchased Brookhaven's land from its tribal inhabitants. Early English settlers farmed, fished, and hunted whales.

The Miller Place Academy schoolhouse, c.1834

The first English settlement was named Setauket after the native American tribe. Brookhaven is the anglicized version of the Algonquin name Setauket. These terms were initially used interchangeably to describe the village or the town. The verbal division between the hamlet Setauket and township Brookhaven was not set until well into the 19th century. A point of confusion is the existence of the hamlet named Brookhaven, which was in fact named for the township in 1879.

Sketch of early Patchogue

In 1666, Governor Richard Nicolls granted a patent for the town which confirmed title to the lands purchased, and permitted additional purchases. Governor Thomas Dongan issued a patent in 1686 which granted powers to the town and established a representative form of government.[3] The town seal was authorized at this time. The central element of the town seal, the letter “D”, was designated to the Town of Brookhaven as its official cattle earmark by the Duke’s Laws of 1665. Although no records exist dating to the town seal's original design plan, it is generally thought that the seal's olive branch signified peace and the whaling tools signified the most lucrative business in the Town of Brookhaven at the time. The current seal is a redesign, retaining the original elements, but adding the Town of Brookhaven and its 1655 date of settlement.

In 1976, The Brookhaven Town Bicentennial Commission proposed changing the date on the seal to 1655, recognizing the first deed of settlement of the Town of Brookhaven at Setauket on April 14, 1655.

Early Brookhaven was largely agrarian, with each hamlet being limited to a handful of families yet containing miles of land. This economy was supplemented in coastal sections with fishing. A major commercial center did non exist in Brookhaven until the early 19th century.


Bathers at Bellport by William Glackens
Mather Shipyard in Port Jefferson, 1884

In the mid-19th century, several communities in Brookhaven prospered as shipbuilding ports. The most successful of these are the villages of Port Jefferson and Patchogue, which remain the township's most bustling traditional downtowns. Whaling and cordwood industries also developed in Brookhaven.

From the end of the late 19th century until the middle of the 20th, many communities along the North Shore and South Shore became successful resort towns. These hosted many urban residents, including numerous celebrities of the era, during the summer months. Rural sections across Brookhaven served as campgrounds for youth clubs.

During the Gilded Age, Brookhaven underwent some of the same changes that affected Long Island's Gold Coast. Waterfront areas along the North Shore, including Belle Terre and Old Field, transformed from small fishing communities into fashionable and exclusive enclaves of the moneyed elite.

Modern history

Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University

In the post-war era, Brookhaven experienced a massive population boom. This was partly due to its proximity to New York City along the Long Island Railroad and the highway system of Robert Moses. The township's most internationally renowned institutions, Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Lab, both date to the years following World War II.

Shops along Main Street in Port Jefferson, now an active center of tourism and transit hub
Brookhaven National Laboratory

During the mid-century, a number of major transformations were conducted by philanthropist Ward Melville in the Three Village area (The Setaukets, Stony Brook, and Old Field). Melville, an Old Field resident and owner of what later became CVS Corporation, used his fortune to transform Northwestern Brookhaven to his vision of an idealized New England-style region. To this end, he ordered the construction in 1939 of the Stony Brook Village Center, a picturesque commercial center set on village green in Stony Brook, with clapboard buildings designed to look as if they had colonial origins. In 1962, Ward Melville donated 400 acres of land for the relocation of now-named Stony Brook University from Oyster Bay.

Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) sits on the site of Camp Upton, a United States army installation that was used as a training ground in World War I and World War II by thousands of soldiers including composer Irving Berlin. In 1946 ownership of the grounds was transferred for use by the new national laboratory, which began operating the following year. Brookhaven researchers have since made such diverse contributions as patenting Maglev, designing one of the first video games, detecting the first solar neutrinos, designing pollutant-eating bacteria, creating the first PET scan, and various contributions to particle physics. The laboratory contains the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) and the National Synchrotron Light Source. Noted physicist and nobel laureate I.I. Rabi was instrumental in the national laboratory's establishment.


As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 448,248 people, 146,828 households, and 112,910 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,728.8 people per square mile (667.5/km²). There were 155,406 housing units at an average density of 599.4 per square mile (231.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 68.43% White, 24.33% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 2.90% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.21% from other races, and 1.87% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.04% of the population.

There were 146,828 households out of which 38.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.3% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.1% were non-families. 17.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.97 and the average family size was 3.37.

Year Population
1865 10,159[7]
1845 7,461[8]
1825 5,393[9]

In the town, the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.8 males.

According to a 2006 estimate, the median income for a household in the town was $73,566, and the median income for a family was $84,705.[10] Males had a median income of $48,601 versus $32,157 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,191. About 3.9% of families and 5.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.5% of those under age 18 and 6.6% of those age 65 or over.


The Great South Bay at sunset

According to Brookhaven's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the town are:[11]

# Employer # of Employees Location
1 Stony Brook University 13,623 Stony Brook
2 Internal Revenue Service 3,332 Holtsville
3 Sachem School District 3,100 Holbrook
4 Brookhaven National Laboratory 2,500 Upton
5 John T. Mather Memorial Hospital 2,047 Port Jefferson
6 Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center 2,030 East Patchogue
7 St. Charles Hospital 1,520 Port Jefferson
8 Three Village Central School District 1,454 East Setauket
9 Verizon 1,440 Patchogue
10 William Floyd School District 1,300 Mastic Beach


Brookhaven is the home of Stony Brook University, which moved to Stony Brook from its original Oyster Bay campus in 1962; the university has since become the town's largest employer. The town is also home to the first and largest campus of Suffolk County Community College, located in Selden.

Government and politics

Current Town Board as of November 25, 2014
Position Name
Supervisor Edward Romaine (R)
Town Clerk Donna Lent (I)
1st Council District Councilman Valerie Cartright (D)
2nd Council District Councilman Jane Bonner (C)
3rd Council District Councilman Kevin LaValle (R)
4th Council District Councilman Constance Kepert (D)
5th Council District Councilman Neil Foley (R)
6th Council District Councilman Daniel Panico (R)
Tax Receiver Louis J. Marcoccia (R)
Superintendent of Highways Dan Losquadro (R)

Patchogue was the town seat of Brookhaven until 1986, when it moved to Medford and then its current location near Bald Hill in Farmingville.

The former Brookhaven Town Hall in Patchogue

Brookhaven is led by a town Supervisor and a six-member Town Council, which are all two-year term elected positions. Council members are elected by district.[12]

Prior to 2002, the Town of Brookhaven Republican Party controlled the majority of the town board for several decades, except for a four-year period in the mid-1970s when Democrats held a majority under Supervisor John Randolph.[13] This one-party domination, and a series of scandals, led to a tarnished reputation of local politics accorded the nickname "Crookhaven".[14][15]

In 2002, a voter proposition was passed to create council districts, replacing the prior system of electing the six town council members at-large.[1] Steve Fiore-Rosenfield became the first Democrat to be elected since the 1970s in 2003.[16]

In 2005, Brian X. Foley, a Democratic county legislator, won the Town Supervisor race.[17] Constance Kepert and Carol Bissonette were also elected to the town board. As a result, the Democrats gained control of the Brookhaven town board.[18]

Following the election of 2007, the Republican Party regained a majority on the Brookhaven Town Board, and elected Councilman Tim Mazzei as majority leader.[19]

In 2008, Brian X. Foley was elected to the State Senate. He was replaced as Supervisor by Democrat Mark Lesko.[20] In late 2012, Lesko resigned and was replaced by Edward Romaine, a Republican who had previously been Suffolk County Legislator and county clerk.

Communities and locations

Villages (incorporated)

Brookhaven has nine villages:

Hamlets (unincorporated)

Brookhaven includes all or part of 50 hamlets. One of those hamlets is also named Brookhaven.

Physical features

Other communities

  • Bayberry Dunes
  • Bellview Beach
  • Coram Hill
  • Crystal Brook
  • East Yaphank
  • Hallock Landing
  • Old Mastic
  • Poospatuck Reservation
  • Rocky Point Landing
  • Patchogue Highlands
  • Sigfield Park
  • South Manor
  • South Medford
  • South Setauket
  • South Yaphank
  • Squassux Landing
  • Smith Point
  • Wading River Landing
  • West Yaphank
  • Woodhull Landing



Railroad lines

Long Island Rail Road has three lines running through the Town of Brookhaven. The Main Line includes Ronkonkoma, which not only serves as a major transportation hub, but is also located on the Islip-Brookhaven Town Line. It also contains stations in Medford, and Yaphank. The Montauk Branch includes stations in Patchogue, North Bellport, Mastic, and also had one in Center Moriches until 1998. On the opposite side of the town, the Port Jefferson Branch contains two stations as it enters from the Town of Smithtown; One in Stony Brook along the northern edge of SUNY at Stony Brook and one along Main Street in Port Jefferson where the line terminates.

Bus service

The Town of Brookhaven is served primarily by Suffolk County Transit bus routes, although the Village of Patchogue has its own bus service.

Major roads


The town of Brookhaven contains three minor reliever airports, all of which are in south shore communities. The first one is the Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley. East of this is the Spadaro Airport and Lufker Airport both of which are in East Moriches, and both of which share a taxiway. Coram Airport was operational until 1984.


The primary ferry within the Town of Brookhaven is the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry, which takes vehicles and passengers across the Long Island Sound to and from Port Jefferson to Bridgeport, Connecticut. On the Great South Bay, passenger ferries take vacationers to and from Fire Island. The ferry terminals in Patchogue lead to the communities of Davis Park a popular vacation communities for LGBT New Yorkers, and Watch Hill Visitor's Center, on the western edge of the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness Area. Bellport also has a ferry leading to Bellport Beach on Fire Island.

From Fire Island itself, communities have ferries from Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove, both of which are also popular vacation spots for LGBT tourists as well as the Sailors Haven Visitor's Center,[21] which is located within the Sunken Forest Visitor's Center.[22] All three ferries lead to Sayville in the Town of Islip. Ocean Bay Park is the westernmost community in the Town of Brookhaven, and ferries from there lead to Bay Shore.

See also


  1. ^ a b Lambert, Bruce (January 23, 2002). "Council-Districts Referendum Wins Narrowly in Brookhaven".  
  2. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Brookhaven town, Suffolk County, New York". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved 2012-12-19. 
  3. ^ Brookhaven Town History, Town of Brookhaven, accessed 2009-06-05
  4. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  7. ^ "Census of the State of New York, 1865, Tables p. 14". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  8. ^ "Census of the State of New York, 1845". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  9. ^ "Census of the State of New York, 1825". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  10. ^®=null%3Anull&_keyword=&_industry=
  11. ^ Town of Brookhaven CAFR
  12. ^ Brookhaven Elected Officials, Town of Brookhaven, accessed 2009-06-05
  13. ^ Rather, John (Jan 23, 2005). "Brian Foley Is Running For Brookhaven Supervisor".  
  14. ^ "Crookhaven: The Brookhaven Town Republican Party".  
  15. ^ Lambert, Bruce (Nov 5, 2005). "BROOKHAVEN; With Republican Party in Shambles, Change Is in the Air".  
  16. ^ Toy, Vivian S. (Jul 18, 2004). "A Better Way To Govern? Taking Stock In 3 Towns".  
  17. ^ Lambert, Bruce (Nov 9, 2005). "Democrats Score Gains in Nassau and Suffolk".  
  18. ^ "Talkin’ bout a revolution" (PDF). North Shore Sun. Nov 11, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  19. ^ "Mazzei to run for Brookhaven supervisor".  
  20. ^ "Newcomer Lesko wins Brookhaven supervisor".  
  21. ^ "Sailors Haven". National Park Service. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  22. ^ "Loving The Sunken Forest". Retrieved 2010-04-28. 

External links

  • Town of Brookhaven official website
  • Town of Brookhaven, Economic Development
  • The North Shore Sun

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