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East Hampton




New York State > Long Island > The Hamptons



Hook Windmill in East Hampton (village), New York, which is the symbol for East Hampton.

East Hampton is a town located in southeastern Suffolk County, New York and is the easternmost town on the South Shore of Long Island. As of the United States 2000 Census, the CDP had a total population of 19,719.

The town includes the village of East Hampton, as well as four official hamlets of Montauk, Amagansett, Wainscott and Springs.

It is home to the largest privately owned island in the United States and largest fishing fleet in the State of New York.

Natural attributes of the town (marked by eight state parks and numerous county, town, municipal and Nature Conservancy areas) have contributed to its reputation as a "Playground of the Rich" where seemingly anybody with major money in the New York City has an estate in the town. It is the eastern most point in the State of New York and surrounded by water on three sides. Two First Ladies spent their childhoods in the town and President Clinton spent his summer vacations there. Jackson Pollock created his most famous paintings in the town.

Its strategic location on the entrance to Long Island Sound and New York City shipping channels has resulted in military incidents in the town from the 1600s to World War II.

The town of East Hampton and the village of East Hampton are different political entities with the smaller village being within the bigger town.

East Hampton town is a peninsula forming the tip of the South Fork and is the easternmost point of New York State. It is surrounded on the south by the Atlantic Ocean, to the east by Block Island Sound and to the north by several bays emanating from Long Island Sound (including Gardiners Bay and Fort Pond Bay).

Since the 5 square mile Gardiners Island is included in the town's jurisdiction, its northernmost point of Gardiners Point Island is further north than most of the North Fork with it being even approximately with the hamlet of Orient.

The town consists of 70 square miles and stretches nearly 25 miles from Wainscott in the west to Montauk Point in the east. It is about six miles in width at its widest point (from the village to Cedar Point) and less than a mile at its narrowest point at Napeague (where the town was split in half during the New England Hurricane of 1938 when the Atlantic washed over the peninsula). The town has jurisdiction over Gardiners Island which is the largest privately owned island in the United States. The town has 70 miles of shoreline.[1]

The town has less than half the land area of Southampton (which has about 145 square miles).

In terms of political boundaries, the Atlantic Ocean forms an international boundary to the south, water boundaries are to the east and north (Block Island, Rhode Island is to the east, Town of Southold on the north and Town of Shelter Island on the northwest. The only land border is with Southhampton on the west.

Since major notable events are constantly occurring in the town, many of the most notable homes and buildings are privately owned and not open to the public and not even on the National Register of Historic Places.

 Native-American History

Stephen Talkhouse

East Hampton was claimed by several Algonquin speaking tribes (in the Mohegan-Pequot variant, with the most notable being the Montaukett. Chief Wyandanch was to be involved in much of the sale of the town.

The first sale to Lyon Gardiner of Gardiners Island for "a large black dog, some powder and shot, and a few Dutch blankets." The next trade involved the land from the Southampton town line to the foot of the bluffs at what is now Hither Hills State Park was sold for 24 hatchets, 24 coats, 20 looking glasses and 100 muxes. According to legend Wyandanch was to have been poisoned for these other deals signing away Long Island property. In 1660 his widow signed away the rest of the land from Hither Hills to the tip of Montauk for 100 pounds to be paid in 10 equal installments of "Indian corn or good wampum at six to a penny"[2]. However the tribe was to be permitted to stay on the land and to hunt and fish at will on the land and to havest the tails and fins of whales that washed up dead on the East Hampton shores. Town officials who bought the land were to file for reimbursement for rum they had plied the tribe.[3]

Much of the Montaukett tribe was wiped out by smallpox outbreaks that devastated all tribes. Many members of the tribe relocated with Samson Occom and renounced their tribal heritage after the American Revolution. [4]

A few remaining Montauketts including the legendary Stephen Talkhouse continued to live in an area on Lake Montauk called Indian Fields until 1879 when Arthur W. Benson forced a government auction of Montauk in which he bought virtually the entire east end of the town and evicted the tribe which relocated to Freetown on the northern edge of East Hampton village. The tribe lost in 1896 to 1918 in attempts to get the courts to declare the evictions illegal. In the 1990s the Montauketts again began pressing their case for formal recognition.

Montaukett artifacts and sweat lodges are visible on trails at Theodore Roosevelt County Park. The park was formerly Montauk County Park and its renaming for the President who stayed there briefly in 1898 is a source of agitation for the Montauketts.


Lion Gardiner tomb at the South End Cemetery

East Hampton (at Gardiners Island) was the first English settlement in the state of New York in 1639 (the first Europeans in New York were the Dutch who settled around Albany, New York in 1615 and at New York in 1625). Early settlement was based on ties to Connecticut which was just 20 miles across Long Island (while the settlements around Manhattan were 100 miles away).

The first settlement of anywhere on the east end of Long Island was in 1639 when Lion Gardiner purchased Gardiner's Island from the Montaukett Indians for "a large black dog, some powder and shot, and a few Dutch blankets. An incentive for the sale was Gardiner's support for the Montauketts who were among the victors in the Pequot War. A royal British charter recognized the island as a wholey contained colony independent of both New York and Connecticut -- a status it was to keep until after the American Revolution when it formally came under New York State and East Hampton authority.

East Hampton's official settling date by whites according to its seal is 1648 when 30 Puritan settlers (9 families) from Lynn, Massachusetts then a part of the Connecticut Colony via Southampton settled around Hook Pond in the modern East Hampton village. The community was considered itself part of Connecticut subject to its English laws (as opposed to the Dutch claims for the entire island based on its settlements in western Long Island around New Amsterdam). East Hampton was the third Connecticut settlement on the east end of Long Island (Southold and Southampton date their settlements from 1640). East Hampton formally united with Connecticut in 1657. The connection was undone in 1664 when Long Island was formally declared to be part of New York (and also subject to English law) by Charles II of England after four British frigates captured what is today New York City.

East Hampton was originally called Maidstone after the region in Kent from which they came. The name was later changed to Easthampton (one word) reflecting the geographic names of its sister former Connecticut neighbors of Southampton and Westhampton[5]. It would later become two words after the East Hampton Star began using the two word name when it started publishing in 1885. The name Maidstone frequently appears on place names throughout the town including the Maidstone Golf Club.

Deep Hollow Ranch sign

Deep Hollow Ranch established in 1658 in Montauk is the oldest continuously operating cattle ranch in the United States.

 Whaling Capital

Dolphins at East Hampton's first port at Northwest Landing

While East Hampton was originally primarily agricultural, the settlers soon discovered that whales frequently would drift onto its beaches (called "drift whales") and that the whales could then be carved up for food and oil. The proper handling of this phenomenon was to be written into town laws.

As the demand for whale products grew, residents became more aggressive in their harvesting techniques. No longer content to settle for harvesting just the dead whales that had washed up, they began harvesting live whales that were coming near shore. This in turn evolved into extended trips to harvest the whales.

The town's first port was at Northwest Landing (northwest of the main village) and what was called Northwest Harbor.

The harbor turned out to be more shallow than needed for the ever increasing size of boats and the main harbor shifted two miles to the west in the harbor to Sag Harbor (deriving its name from the fact that it was just north of the settlement of Sagaponack, New York in Southampton.[6] beginning in 1760.

About three fifths of Sag Harbor is in Southampton and two fifths in East Hampton with the dividing street called "Division Street" which turns into Town Line Road north of the village. While most of the landmark portions of the town including its Main Street are in Southampton, the piers at the foot of Main Street are almost totally in East Hampton.

At its peak in 1847 60 whale ships were to be based in the village employing 800 men in related businesses. It was to be written about by Herman Melville in Moby Dick. The port rivaled that of New York. After 1847 the whaling industry dropped off dramatically.

Among the sea captains of Sag Habor were ancestors of Howard Dean who was to be born in East Hampton.[7]

The most famous voyages out of Sag Harbor were those by Mercator Cooper who in 1845 picked up shipwrecked Japanese sailors in the Bonin Islands and was permitted to return them to Tokyo -- the first Americans to visit Tokyo. In 1853 Cooper aboard the Levant out of Sag Harbor broke through the ice shelf to become the first person to land on East Antarctica (the log of voyage is in the East Hampton Library).

East Hampton continues to have a large maritime presence with Montauk being New York State's largest fishing port[8]. In addition to the yachts scattered in the various ports throughout the town the Town is famed for its commercial sports fishing (made particularly famous by Frank Mundus who is widely reported to be the inspiration for Captain Quint in Jaws (despite the denials by Peter Benchley). One of the largest buildings in the town is Promised Land fish meal factory at Napeague.

 Home to Presidents and First Ladies

 Julia Gardiner Tyler

Julia Gardiner Tyler

East Hampton has played a role a Presidential politics throughout its history. First Ladies Julia Gardiner Tyler and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis spent their childhoods there. Theodore Roosevelt was briefly quarantined in Montauk at Camp Wyckoff after he returned from his highly publicized heroic run in the Spanish-American War. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton spent weeklong summer vacations in 1998 and 1999.

Julia Gardiner was born on Gardiners Island and her father had a house in East Hampton village (adjoining what is the Thomas Moran house) across from Town Pond. On February 28, 1844, she and her father David Gardiner were part of the Presidential party aboard the USS Princeton (1843) when a malfunctioning canon exploded killing her father (along with two Cabinet officers). According to legend Julia fainted into the arms of President Tyler (who had earlier lost his first wife). They were to marry four months later -- creating something of a national scandal since there was a 30-year difference in their ages.

Although she was a New Yorker and member of the wealthy Gardiner family, she was to have economic problems after the American Civil War because of her support for the Confederate States of America cause of her husband John Tyler. She is buried with the President in Richmond, Virginia. Her father and one of her sons are buried the South End Burial Ground in East Hampton.

 Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was born at Southampton Hospital on July 28, 1929. She was supposed to have been born in New York City but she was six weeks late and her parents Janet Norton Lee and John Vernou Bouvier III were staying the Further Lane, East Hampton home of her grandfather John Vernou Bouvier II called Lasata[9]

Her family were members of the Maidstone Club just down Further Lane from Lasata. She and her younger sisters Lee Bouvier were to spend her summers at the house until she was 10 when her parents divorced.

Her parents were married at St. Philomena's Catholic Church in East Hampton on July 7, 1928 (even though her father was Episcopalian). The reception was held at the Lily Pond East Hampton village home of her maternal grandparents James T. Lee and Margaret Lee.

Her connections to East Hampton got national attention in the 1970s following news reports and documentary that her aunt Edie Bouvier and cousin Edith Bouvier Beale were living in poverty in a mansion in the Georgica Pond village neighborhood called Grey Gardens. She and her husband Aristotle Onassis were to donate money to improve the plight of her aunt. The ordeal was highlight in a 2006 Broadway musical. A new documentary on Grey Gardens was also released in 2006.

Jacqueline's sister Lee Radziwill continued to own the Lily Pond Lane home of her maternal grandparents until 2002. The Bouvier family cemetery plot is at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery on Cedar Street. Jackie's father, maternal grandmother, paternal grandparents, paternal great-grandparents as well as various relatives including Big Edie are buried in the cemetery.

 Bill and Hillary Clinton
In 1998 and 1999 as talk surfaced that Hillary Clinton was considering a senate run from New York, they switched their summer vacations from Martha's Vineyard. They spent their time at the Georgica Pond home of Steven Spielberg. In 1998 a miniscandal arose when shallow Georgica Pond was drained just before the visit. News accounts at the time speculated the Secret Service was looking for submarines. The pond was not drained in the 1999 visit. Marine One was parked at East Hampton Airport. Clinton gave a Saturday radio chat from the Amagansett fire station. Criticism arose about the wisdom of staying in a town of such wealth and during the 2000 election the Clintons stayed in the Adirondacks.

 African-American History
East Hampton has played an important role in African-American history.

Slavery in New York was legal until 1827. During the War of 1812, the Gardiners used slaves to transport supplies back and forth to Gardiner Island. According to the Gardiners slaves were easier to pass through British blockades since it was "obvious" they were "owned."

During this period Sag Harbor rose to a port status rivaling New York thanks to its whale oil trade and slaves extensively worked the docks.

After the repeal of slavery, Gardiners slaves set up small houses in the Freetown (East Hampton) just north of the East Hampton village. While Sag Harbor freed slaves set up the Eastside community in Sag Harbor.

On August 26, 1839, members of the slave ship Amistad (1841) which had been commandeered by its slave cargo in Cuba dropped anchor at Culloden Point and came ashore at Montauk (near the modern day train station) to get supplies. The slaves who had let their former captors do the navigating thought the ship was going back to Africa. Members of the naval ship USS Washington (1837) seeing the slaves ashore arrested them and took them to Connecticut The case was to work its way to the U.S. Supreme Court with John Quincy Adams arguing for the Africans. The court was to decide in their favor saying the initial capture of the Africans was illegal and they were freed.

One of the imprisoned slaves was to become a valet for President John Tyler and was killed aboard USS Princeton (1843) along with Gardiner Island resident David Gardiner who was onboard with his daughter Julia Gardiner Tyler. She and the president were to wed four months later.

In 1845 Pyrrhus Concer was aboard the ship the Manhattan captained by Mercator Cooper which picked up shipwrecked Japanese sailors in the Bonin Islands. The ship was allowed to enter Tokyo Bay under escort to return the sailors and became the first American ship to visit Tokyo. Concer was the first black the Japanese had seen and his depicted in their drawings of the event.

A monument at the Montauk Point Lighthouse commemorates the Amistad. East Hampton film director Steven Spielberg popularized the event in Amistad (1997 film).

 Playground for the Rich

Maidstone Club

East Hampton from its earliest days with the settlement of Gardiners Island has had a reputation as being a home for the wealthy especially after the Gardiners married into almost all the wealthy New York families.

East Hampton however largely remained undeveloped until 1880 when Austin Corbin extended the Long Island Rail Road from Bridgehampton, New York to Montauk. As part of the development Arthur W. Benson forced an auction paid US$151,000 for 10,000 acres (40 km²) around Montauk and forced the eviction of the Montaukket Native Americans there.

Benson brought in architect Stanford White to design six "cottages" near Ditch Plains in Montauk and they formed the Montauk Association to govern their exclusive neighborhood. Among the cottages was Tick Hall, owned by Dick Cavett. It burned in 1993 but Cavett rebuilt it filming the process for a television documentary.

Corbin had more industrial desires for building the train to Montauk. He thought a new port city would develop around the train station on Fort Pond Bay and that ocean going ships from Europe would dock there and the passengers would take the train into New York -- thus saving a day in transit.

The grand plans for Montauk did not pan out and the land was sold to the United States Army which was to use most of the land for Army, Navy and Air Force bases through World War II with Theodore Roosevelt making a much publicized visit there at Camp Wyckoff at the end of the Spanish-American War.

One of the side benefits of the railroad extension was a building boom of mansions in the newly accessible village of East Hampton resulting in the wealthy venturing further east from Southampton with the Maidstone Golf Club opening 1891.

In 1926 Carl G. Fisher was to resurrect the dream of an urban Montauk with plans to turn it into the Miami Beach of the north. He bought the former Benson property for $2.5 million (which was then surplus government property following the end of World War I). He built the 6-story Montauk Improvement Building in downtown Montauk (which is still the town's tallest occupied structure - as zoning has forbidden highrise structures), the Montauk Manor (which was a luxury hotel), dredged Lake Montauk and opened it to Block Island Sound to support his Montauk Yacht Club and the associated Star Island Casnio as well as the Montauk Downs golf club.[10] Fisher was to lose his fortune in the Crash of 1929 and the land was sold back to the military in World War II.

Through the years East Hampton's wealth has evolved emanating out from the village taking over the farmland that had once been dominated by potato fields. The most dazzling row of mansions remains in the village of East Hampton on the closest road paralleling the ocean along Further Lane and Lily Pond Lane.

While ostentatious displays of wealth occurred near the ocean ("south of the Montauk Highway") much simpler houses and bungalows have been built through the years throughout its history particularly in Springs and Montauk. In the 1950s and 1960s following the Kitchen Debate between Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon more than cheap affordable prefabricated housing second homes called Leisurama were built a Montauk at Culloden Point.

In November 2006, the median price of a house in the Town was US $895,000 [11] (compared with a national median for the U.S. of $225,000[12] Several houses in East Hampton now sell for prices in the tens of millions of dollars. Living in East Hampton is expensive. In 2005 the cost of living was 326% of the national average [13]

 Celebrity Shenanigans
Despite popular perception that the Hamptons are the playground of the young and beautiful, it is more a land where scandals involve the middle aged and older and often as not involve real estate or divorce. Here's a sampling of scandals:

Jerry Seinfeld ran afoul of zoning ordinances when he tried to build a ballfield on his Further Lane property.
Martha Stewart got into a squabble with developer Harry MacLowe over their mutual hedge on Georgica Pond. In the battle Martha was accused of attempting to run down MacLowe's gardener. No charges were ever filed.
Puff Daddy is constantly running afoul of liquor authorities over operation of the Resort Nightclub on Three Mile Road which the town has been attempting to close in various incarnations.
Chevy Chase got involved in an environmental dispute over the opening of a golf course on the edge of Amagansett. He was to be accused of unnecessarily spraying his own property for gypsy moths.
Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger were the "it" couple of the 1990s hosting a big Clinton fundraiser at their Amagansett home. In the 2000 their divorce became tabloid fodder.
Jimmy Buffett lost a bidding war over a $430,000 ocean-front trailer at Ditch Plains (East Hampton actually has four trailer parks -- three of which are waterfront).[14]

 Artist Colony

Pollock-Krasner house in Springs. It is now owned by State University of New York at Stony Brook with scheduled appointments to see his paint splattered studio.

East Hampton's reputation as an artist colony hinges on painter Jackson Pollock in the 1940s and 1950s and whose most famous paintings were painted in the Springs studio he bought with his wife Lee Krasner overlooking Accabonac Harbor.

Swirling around Pollock were other artists including Willem de Kooning.

Pollock died in 1956 while driving his mistress and a friend of hers home down Springs Fireplace Road after picking them up at the Long Island Railroad station in East Hampton.[15].

Pollock and Krasner are buried in Green River Cemetery in Springs along with many of the artists of their generation. Headstones in the cemetery are sculptures. The Pollock/Krasner house is affiliated with State University of New York Stony Brook which permits visits by appointment to see his paint splattered studio. Their neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Pollock's influence continues to be felt in the community.

Marcia Gay Harden won a 2000 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for portraying Krasner in Pollock (film) which was shot in East Hampton as the dream project of Ed Harris who was also nominated for Best Actor.

An ongoing debate rages over whether 24 paintings and drawings found in a Wainscott locker in 2003 are Pollock originals. Physicists have argued over whether fractals can be used to authenticate the paintings. The debate is still inconclusive.[16]

Many artists who have had commercial success have had houses in East Hampton. Among other artists who are intimately associated with East Hampton are Thomas Moran, the Hudson River school artist whose works of the American West hang in the U.S. Capitol rotunda had his home in East Hampton village opposite Town Pond where it is on the National Register of Historic Places. He and his wife are buried across the road in the South End Cemetery.

Andy Warhol and his longtime collaborator Paul Morrissey had a large estate the water in Montauk called Eothen. In 1993 the Andy Warhol Foundation donated 15.6 acres of the estate to the Nature Conservancy for the Andy Warhol Visual Arts Preserve which is run in conjunction with Art Barge in nearby Napeague.[17]

 Natural Disasters

Cedar Point Lighthouse

The only major natural disaster in modern times was the Hurricane of 1938 in which the Atlantic Ocean split the town in two at Napeague. The storm also washed up sand so that the Cedar Point Lighthouse which had been on island was connected to mainland.

East Hampton does not have the barrier beaches that run almost the entire length of the south shore of Long Island from Coney Island to Southampton. East Hampton's ocean beaches are all connected to the mainland and so are not washed over in storms.

The hamlet of Montauk was moved from its original location at the train station at the end of World War II by the Navy since it was constantly being flooded by storms on Fort Pond Bay

The town is regularly hit by hurricanes and Nor'easters. Given the town's generally flat topography, water often accumulates on town roads stranding motorists in heavy rains.

The biggest problem is beach erosion. The town for the most part has severely restricted development on ocean front property thus limited impact. The Montauk Lighthouse which used to be almost 300 feet from the cliffs is now 56 feet from the cliffs. The most threatened areas now are in the hamlet of Montauk which is the only community in the town with its business district next to the ocean as well as houses near Georgica Pond in East Hampton. At Georgica Pond the United States Corps of Engineers built jetties to protect the mansions. The construction is a source of friction with Southampton which says the jetties interrupt the Longshore drift greatly increasing beach erosion downstream there.

The lack of beach front development (including the fact there are no boardwalk promenades that are features of many developed beach communities) has contributed to East Hampton beaches being listed among the best beaches in the country.[18]

 Military History
While East Hampton is considered almost exclusively a residential community, it has been the home of United States Navy, United States Army, and United States Air Force bases, the last of which closed in the 1980s. It currently has a United States Coast Guard headquarters.

Skirmishes and military incidents took place in the town from the 1600s through World War II.

 Massacre Valley
The biggest recorded loss of life in the various skirmishes and conflicts in East Hampton was "Massacre Valley" in 1653 in Montauk when 30 members of the Montaukett tribe were killed by members of the Narragansett tribe at the foot of what is now Montauk Manor.[19]

The Montauketts had a thriving wampum (made from whelk shells on the East Hampton beaches) trade Connecticut tribes. The arrangements were disrupted in 1637 by the Pequot War which was to solidify English domination of New England and change the balance of power among Native American tribes.

The Pequot War was to contribute to the Montauketts selling Gardiners Island, East Hampton and Southhampton to the English with the understanding the English would protect the Montauketts from attacks from Connecticut. However a war broke out between the Montauketts and the Narragansett, the nominal Native American victors in Pequot War.

In 1653 the Narragansetts under Ninigret attacked and burned the Montaukett village, killed 30 and captured one of Wyandanch's daughters. The daughter was ransomed with the aid of Lion Gardiner (who in turn was to get large portion of Smithtown, New York in appreciation). The Montauketts temporarily moved closer to East Hampton village and the English ordered ships in Long Island Sound to sink Narragansett canoes. [20] The skirmishes were to end in 1657.

 Captain Kidd
East Hampton dealt with pirates on its waterways in the 1600s and early 1700s.

The most notable pirate was Captain Kidd who was hanged after his booty on Gardiners Island was introduced at his trial.

Kidd is said to have buried treasure all over Long Island. Money Ponds at the Montauk Lighthouse are named because of treasure reported to have been left there.

In June 1699 Kidd was stopped on the island while sailing to Boston to attempt to clear his name. With the permission of the proprietor Mrs. Gardiner he buried $30,000 in treasure in a ravine between Bostwick's Point and the Manor House. For her troubles he gave her a piece of gold cloth (a piece of which is now at the East Hampton library) that was captured from a Moorish ship off Madagascar as well as a bag of sugar. Kidd warned that if it was not there when he returned he would kill the Gardiner. Kidd was to be tried in Boston and Gardiner was ordered to deliver the treasure as evidence. The booty included gold dust, bars of silver, Spanish dollars, rubies, diamonds, candlesticks, porringers. Gardiner kept one of the diamonds which he gave his daughter. A plaque on the island marks the spot but it is on private property.[21]

Pirates were again to overrun Gardiners Island tying Gardiner to a tree.

 American Revolution

Montauk Point Lighthouse

Canon retrieved from the Culloden on display at the Marine Museum

In 1775 the British first ventured toward Long Island at Fort Pond Bay at Montauk during the Siege of Boston. John Dayton who had limited troops at his disposal feigned that he had more by walking them back and forth across a hill turning their coats inside out to make it look like there more of them (a tactic referred to as Dayton's Ruse).[22] The British would not formally attack Long Island until 1776.

After the fall of Long Island during the Battle of Long Island, the East Hampton ports of Northwest and Sag Harbor were blockaded by the British and the British were to use Gardiner's Island for hunting preserve.

The first American victory in New York after the Battle of Long Island was Meigs Raid on Sag Harbor (sometimes called the Battle of Sag Harbor) when continentals from Connecticut raided the British earth works in the village and burned the ships and wharfs on the East Hampton side of the village. The Americans killed six and transported 90 British prisoners back to Connecticut without losing a single soldier.

A story often circulated is the story of Isaac Van Scoy who had a farm in Northwest. According to the tales the British raided his farmhouse and he killed one soldier with a pitchfork. Van Scoy was reported to have eventually been captured and taken to a prison ship in Sag Harbor where he escaped. [23] The earthen remains of Van Scoy's house are still visible in the Northwest Preserve where he is buried (American flags mark his grave on holidays). His name is applied to various placenames in the area including Van Scoy Pond.

The manor house on Gardiners Island had just been built in 1774 and members of the British forces were to use it throughout the war -- with or without permission. Among the British guests were Henry Clinton and John André. At one point Major Andre and Gardiner son Nathaniel Gardiner, who was a surgeon for the New Hampshire Continental Infantry, exchanged toasts on the island. Gardiner would later be the American surgeon who attended to Andre when he was executed after being caught spying with Benedict Arnold.[24]

The British fleet used East Hampton waters for blockading Connecticut and planning for a new offense to retake New England (that never took place). One of the ships, the HMS Culloden (1776) ran aground at what is now called Culloden Point in Montauk during a winter storm on January 24, 1781. The ship was scuttled and burned. In the 1970s remains of the ship were discovered and is now Long Island's only underwater park. Remains of the ship can be seen at the East Hampton Marine Museum in Amagansett.

After the war, Gardiners Island which had been considered an independent colony was officially added to New York and East Hampton.

George Washington was to authorize construction of the Montauk Point Lighthouse.

 War of 1812

During the War of 1812 British frigates once again controlled the northern bays of East Hampton with frigates headquartered in Gardiners Bay particularly harassing ships going into Sag Harbor. [25]

Sag Harbor had a fort manned by 3,000 troops on Turkey Hill. July 11, 1813 One hundred British Marines raided the wharf but were driven back after setting fire to one sloop by Americans led by Capt. David Hand. [26]

During the War of 1812 a British fleet of seven ships of the line and several smaller frigates anchored in Cherry Harbor and conducted raids on American shipping Long Island Sound. Crews would come ashore for provisions which were purchased at market prices. During one of the British excursions, Americans captured some of the crew. The British came to arrest then Lord of the Manor John Lyon Gardiner. Gardiner, who was a delicate man, adopted the "green room defense" where he stayed in a bed with green curtains surrounded by medicine to make him look feeble. The British not wanting a sick man onboard let him be.[27]

The British were to bury several personnel on the island. Some of the British fleet that burned Washington assembled in the harbor in 1814.[28]

Gardiner's supply boats were manned by slaves during the war and this made it easier for them to pass through British lines. Many of the Gardiner slaves were to live in the Freetown (East Hampton), just north of East Hampton (village), New York.[29]

 Spanish-American War

During the Spanish-American War, the Army built Fort Tyler on Gardiners Point Island in an attempt to protect Long Island.

A more important fort was the massive Camp Wickoff (also called Wyckoff) which stretched from the current from current Montauk Long Island Railroad station to the Montauk Point Lighthouse.

The area was used to quaranetine soldiers coming from the conflict. The most prominent group among the 20,000 soldiers who passed through the base were Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. Some the earliest movies depict Roosevelt at the base. The camp which consisted of tents became a national scandal over the poor treatment of troops (256 were to died) and President William McKinley was to visit to emphasize improvements.[30]

Exhibits and artifacts from the camp are at Theodore Roosevelt County Park.

 World War I

During World War I, the E.W. Bliss Company of Brooklyn, New York tested torpedoes in the harbor a half mile north of Sag Harbor. As part of the process, Long Wharf in Sag Harbor was reinforced with concrete and rail spurs built along the wharf as the torpedoes were loaded onto ships for testing. the torpedoes were shipped via the Long Island Road along the Sag Harbor to the wharf which was owned by the railroad at the time. Among those observing the tests was Thomas Alva Edison. Most of the today's buildings on the wharf including the Bay Street Theatre were built during this time. The torpedoes which did not have live warheads are occasionally found by divers on the bay floor.[31]

 World War II

Observation bunker rising above the shadbush at Shadmoor State Park

During World War II, coastal fortifications were set up along the eastern tip of Long Island at Montauk. A concrete observation tower as built next to the Montauk Lighthouse. 16mm guns were placed in adjacent bunkers at Camp Hero. The observation tower is still next to the lighthouse and the additional bunkers are visible at Fort Hero State Park as well as Shadmoor State Park.

On June 13, 1942, four German agents from U-584 led by George John Dasch landed at what is now Atlantic Avenue Beach (sometimes called Coast Guard Beach) in Amagansett. Confronting a Coast Guardsman John C. Cullen, they said they were a Southampton fishermen. When one of the four said something in a foreign tongue, they offered him $300 Cullen to keep quiet.[32] The agents disappeared into the night after he sought out his supervisor. When reinforcements arrived they discovered German cigarettes on the beach along with four heavy, waterproof oaken boxes buried in the sand filled with brick-sized blocks of high explosives, bombs disguised as lumps of coal, bomb-timing mechanisms of German make, and innocent-looking “pen-and-pencil sets” that were actually incendiary weapons.

The agents rode the Long Island Railroad into New York City and were ultimately captured along with four others who had come ashore at Jacksonville, Florida. Six of the agents were to be executed.[33]

The Navy appropriated almost all of Montauk during the war for facilities including the Montauk Manor which was used as a dormitory. Torpedoes were tested in Lake Montauk. Ships and dirigibles docked on Navy Road on Fort Pond Bay. The Navy was to find Fort Pond inhospitable since it was shallow. Dredging was to contribute to problems with flooding. After the war the Navy moved the residential section of Montauk which had been on the bay by the Long Island Rail station a mile to the south to get away from the flooding. One of the biggest legacies of the Navy presence was to be the dredging of Lake Montauk so that it replaced Fort Pond as Montauk's dock. The Coast Guard is now headquartered there on Star Island.

 Cold War

AN/FPS-35 radar

After the war most of the property was disposed of as surplus except for gun emplacements at Camp Hero next to the Montauk Point Lighthouse. Although the gun emplacements were obsolete, the camp was designated an Air Force Base supporting a 135-foot wide radar called the AN/FPS-35 in the early 1960s to detect bombers headed for New York City. The massive radar and huge then state of the art computers quickly became obsolete. While all the other radars were to be torn down the one on Montauk was saved largely because it was a better landmark than the lighthouse on Long Island Sound.

The base was officially decommissioned in the 1980s. The support buildings now form a ghost town and the radar has officially been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1992 Long Island residents Preston B. Nichols and Peter Moon wrote a science fiction The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time (ISBN 0-9631889-0-9) in which it was claimed the radar was used by the government to conduct time travel experiments. The book has been perceived by some to be true and the base has assumed something of a cult status among conspiracy buffs. It was also featured in a segment of X-Files.


East Hampton town seal

The town actually has two governments that sometimes conflict with each other.

The most visible government is the Town Board which consists of five people including its head called the Town Supervisor who are responsible for the taxes, roads, police, parks, zoning and general governance of the town. Its authority was established by the State of New York in 1788. The government operates from a 13-acre campus on Pantigo Road.[34]

The second lesser known government is the Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of the Town of East Hampton which is formally responsible for day to day decisions of common property in the town. The Trustees derive their power from the Dongan Patent of December 9, 1686 which set up self governance for the town. The patent (a land grant) establishing the trustees was an act by Thomas Dongan, the Royal Governor of New York.[35]. Most of the time the trustees who meet at the Town's Pantigo Road campus are in synch with the Town Board although there are occasionally conflicts. Among the common properties the trustees operate is Georgica Pond and they make decisions about when the tidal pond is drained and filled. These actions often make headlines given they affect the flooding of basements of neighboring celebrities. In 1998, the pond was drained just a few days before President Bill Clinton was to spend his summer vacation at the home of Steven Spielberg.

The Town is often an early adopter of initiatives including domestic partnership registration. In 1999, it imposed a 2 percent tax on residential real estate sales in excess of $250,000 for the purpose of buying open space. [36] The money has contributed to the town having more than 200 miles of trails [37] including the Paumanok Path as well as 42-acre Springs Park which is one of the largest dog parks in the country. Between 2002 and 2005 the tax raised $71 million.[38] In 2006 the town adopted a dark skies ordinance which is now being considered as a model for wider use in New York State.[39]

Despite East Hampton's great wealth, its fire department and ambulance are both volunteer services. President Bill Clinton was to give his weekend radio address from the Amagansett Volunteer Fire Station in August 1998 during his vacation in the town.

Although residences in the town are often in architectural magazines, the town offices consist of a several double wide trailers hidden from the street by a nondescript flat-roofed building. In 2006 the town announced plans to turn its campus into a collection of historic East Hampton buildings that had been moved over the course of 30 years to the 40-acre Further Lane home [40] of Adelaide de Menil, heiress to the Schlumberger oil fortune. The move is part of the sale of her home to Robert Weil, the owner of the Swedish investment firm Proventus, for $90 million which in 2005 was declared the highest price ever paid for a single home [41]

East Hampton has aggressively pursued zoning ordinances to protect its residential and rural character. Consequently, there are no chain fast food restaurants and or big box stores (unlike Southampton which has numerous chain fast food chains and stores such as K-Mart). The village of East Hampton had also pursued the no chain rules. However, since the mid-1990s chains have begun making en roads including the opening of Starbucks (currently there is only one in the whole town) as well as Tiffany's.


East Hampton town map from U.S. Census

Demographics in East Hampton are skewed by the fact that more than half the houses are owned second homes (often from some of the wealthiest people in the country)[42]. The overwhelming main industry for East Hampton is support for its residential community.

There could be dramatic changes in the town's official demographics in 2010 as the housing market which outpaced the national run up as squeezed moderate income Hamptonites.

Following is the demographic reflected by the Census in 2000 based on those living in the town then[43]

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 19,719 people, households, and families residing in East Hampton. The population density is 248.2/km² (643.1/mi²). There are 2,251 housing units at an average density of 155.8/km² (403.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the town is 82.46% White, 7.39% Black or African American, 0.08% Native American, 1.62% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 5.94% from other races, and 2.43% from two or more races. 16.62% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 1,445 households out of which 27.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.2% are married couples living together, 12.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 39.0% are non-families. 31.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 16.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.47 and the average family size is 3.07.
In the town the population is spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 25.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 41 years. For every 100 females there are 92.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.2 males.
The median income for a household in the town is $52,201, and the median income for a family is $55,357. Males have a median income of $38,566 versus $29,750 for females. The per capita income for the CDP is $25,725. 12.2% of the population and 10.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 20.5% of those under the age of 18 and 4.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

 Special Events
Each year, East Hampton Fire Department organizes fireworks on Main Beach to celebrate July 4.

Each Summer, the Artists and Writers Softball Game, a charity benefit, is held. Past players include John Irving, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Dustin Hoffman, Bill Clinton, and singer Paul Simon.

Every October the town hosts the Hamptons International Film Festival, a rather large production with independent films shown in several local theatres. It has a fairly large draw from the New York City crowd.

 Communities and locations

 Villages (incorporated)
East Hampton
Sag Harbor, shared with the Town of Southampton

 Hamlets (unincorporated)

 Census designated places
In addition to the above the United States Census has two locations using terms that are usually not used by residents of the town:

East Hampton North, New York (the area just north of the village)
Northwest Harbor, New York - The area northwest of the village that is usually referred to as "Northwest" or "Northwest Woods." There is a harbor in the area though.

 State Parks
Amsterdam Beach State Park
Camp Hero State Park
Hither Hills State Park
Montauk Downs State Park
Montauk Point State Park
Napeague State Park
Sag Harbor State Golf Course
Shadmoor State Park

 Suffolk County Parks
Cedar Point County Park
Theodore Roosevelt County Park


Clinton Academy

East Hampton does not have any colleges although the now disbanded Clinton Academy on Main Street claims it was the first chartered Academy authorized by the New York State Board of Regents in 1784[44]. Three high schools are physically in the town:

East Hampton High School - The principal school for the entire town outside of Sag Harbor. The school also serves the districts of Springs (which has an elementary school) and Montauk (which has an elementary and middle school). Enrollment in 9-12 is 1,046[45] Its mascot is the Bonackers which derives its name from Accabonic Harbor at Springs. It is the only school to use a mascot of that name.
Pierson Middle-High School - This 6-12 school is physically in East Hampton and serves Sag Harbor which straddles a border with Southampton. Its enrollment is 502[46] Its mascot is the Whalers.
Ross School - The largest private school in the Hamptons[47]. Its enrollment for grades 4-12 is 283[48]

 Radio stations
WEHM - 96.7 - FM - East Hampton
WMOS - 104.7 - FM - Montauk