The East Northport Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the East Northport Rotary and in particular, Molly Schoen for their permission in using material from their book, “East Northport… An Incomplete History.” If you would like to learn more about the history of East Northport, you may purchase this book at the following locations: Adams Cyclery, Fred’s Carpet, Richters Orchard, Chase Bank, Colonial Travel, East Northport Jewish Center, Northport Pharmacy and the Northport Historical Society. We would also like to thank the Northport-East Northport Public Library for allowing us to use pictures from their Historical Collections.
Early History of East Northport
Settlement of the area known today as East Northport can be traced back to the first groups of travelers arriving on Long Island from the New England area. After crossing the Sound, they established settlements on the eastern end of the Island and as far west as Hempstead.
In 1653, a small group of these settlers left their settlement in Oyster Bay in search of more land. They saw what they wanted in the area we now call Huntington Township, which was occupied at that time by three tribes of Algonquin Indians.
A settlement was quickly established in the Huntington Village area, but three years later the residents began looking again to expand their territory. On July 30, 1656 a second purchase of land was made from Chief Asharoken. Part of this purchase consisted of the land that is East Northport today. As more settlers moved in, the area was referred to as the ‘clay pits.’ This identification was a reference to the red clay deposit in today’s Clay Pitts area east of Larkfield Road.
East Northport During the Revolution
By the 1770’s, the East Northport area had a fair share of working farms. In 1774, they drew up a Declaration of Rights criticizing England’s unfair taxation and pronounced themselves free men. In 1775, they raised two regiments of militia, but these were short lived because of the colonial defeat at the Battle of Long Island and the subsequent occupation of the Island by the British in 1776. The next few years proved difficult for all of the farmers on Long Island. On September 15, 1776, the occupying British forces seized all the cattle and sheep in Suffolk County that was not for personal use of each farm family.
After the war, farms had to be started from scratch. By the turn of the century, the town was back on its feet. There was an ever increasing market for farm produce in the New York City and Brooklyn areas, and East Northport became a thriving farming community by supplying that market.
The establishment of approximately fifty farms in the East Northport area necessitated the building of roads, and there was a great deal of such activity in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. By 1850, homes were grouped around Larkfield, Pulaski, Cedar and Burr Roads. The houses sat close to the roads with the farms behind or alongside them.
In the mid 1800’s, a Farmers Club was formed. As the Farmers Club gained strength, cooperative farming efforts resulted in a better command of the market. Farming became more sophisticated, and it was also becoming more specialized and varied. Farming in East Northport had been a profitable enterprise for farmers raising wheat, oats and cattle. However, competition caused many of the smaller farmers to turn to crops that could be grown on a small amount of acreage and quickly shipped to market.
During World War I, the community produced food for the war effort. In June 1918, an aviation camp, Brindley Field, was set up on the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Larkfield Road. It became the home of the 211th Aero Squadron for advanced airplane training. The base was deactivated in May, 1919.
The effects of the Depression were felt in East Northport, as they were in every other part of the country. The WPA (Works Projects Administration) employed local men who constructed sidewalks, curbs and several local schools.
Until the beginning of World War II, East Northport was a unique combination of a farming community, a summer vacation area and a bustling little village. Once the war began, even with the hardships produced by the war, the East Northport farms fared well, because theirs was a product very much in demand. When the war was over, the changes came rapidly. Open fields from Pulaski Road down to Jericho Turnpike and the accessibility to the Long Island Railroad was attractive to housing developers. Hundreds of new homes were erected and sold to meet the needs of the growing community. As residents moved into their new homes, shopping centers were built to meet the needs of the expanding area.
Historical Sites of East Northport
A one-room schoolhouse built in 1807 was located on the west side of Laurel Road north of the LIRR tracks. School was taught at this site until 1873, when an increase in population necessitated a new school. In 1893, a new school was built on the present site of the East Northport Library. As the population increased, additions were added to the school and by 1924, the school included six classrooms. In 1922, consolidation of the Eaton Neck’s, Northport and East Northport school districts was achieved, and the composite Northport-East Northport School District #4 was formed.
In 1867, the Long Island Railroad was extended from Syosset to Northport and a railroad station was established at Northport. In 1870, when the Railroad decided to extend the main line to Port Jefferson, it was decided that the new line would start at Greenlawn and follow an easterly path which would bring it south of Northport. The first train ran on January 13, 1873. The new station located on the west side of Larkfield Road in East Northport was called the Northport Railroad Station. Since the newer station was east of the original one, that area came to be called East Northport, although the station itself retained the name of Northport.
In 1892, William Soper purchased land along the railroad tracks in East Northport and erected a pickle processing plant. The Soper Pickle Works sold pickles and sauerkraut throughout the east coast. In the late 1800’s, the Rothman’s from New York City rented part of The Soper Pickle Works. They eventually took over the whole plant which they operated until 1961. The building was later demolished in 1966.
Beginning in 1892, East Northport residents started to complain about their lack of a post office. Finally, in May 1896, the Larkfield Post Office was established in Chester Smith’s store on Larkfield Road, with Mr. Smith as Postmaster. In 1909, the post office was relocated to a two-story double store building on the west side of Larkfield Road, south of the railroad tracks. In 1910, the post office officially became the East Northport Post Office.
In mid-April, 1902 a trolley began operation between Main Street in Northport and East Northport. The Trolley Stop in East Northport was located at the Railroad Station. The trip took only 12 minutes and cost five cents each way. On August 19, 1924 the Northport-East Northport trolley made its last run being replaced by buses and cars.
In 1911, a doll factory, called the Northport Novelty Company was established in East Northport. The factory drew a workforce from as far away as Queens, people who commuted on the LIRR. By 1915, the factory had closed and the building sat empty. In May 1918, a small company took over the factory and manufactured surveillance balloons used by the government during World War I. After the war, the building was used for assembling airplane parts. In 1925, a company produced rubber tires. Later a new company came in to make infant clothes and, finally, the last company made uniforms and surgical clothing. In 1966, the building was demolished.
In 1926, a lending library was established in Messinger’s Pharmacy on Larkfield Road. When the East Northport students were moved to the new Larkfield School in 1939, the school district gave the old school building to the newly formed Library Association of East Northport and the East Northport Library was opened in 1940. In March 1945, the Library was destroyed by fire and a temporary library was set-up until a new Library was built and opened in 1949.