kids encyclopedia robot

North Shore (Long Island) facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

The North Shore of Long Island is the area along the northern coast of New York's Long Island bordering Long Island Sound. Known for its extreme wealth and lavish estates, the North Shore exploded into affluence at the turn of the 20th century, earning it the nickname the Gold Coast. Historically, this term refers to the coastline communities in the towns of North Hempstead and Oyster Bay in Nassau County and the Town of Huntington in Suffolk County, although the town of Smithtown east of here is also known for its affluence. The easternmost Gold Coast mansion is the Geissler Estate, located just west of Indian Hills Country Club in Fort Salonga, within the Town of Huntington.

Being a remnant of glacial moraine, the North Shore is somewhat hilly, and its beaches are more rocky than those on the flat, sandy outwash plain of the South Shore along the Atlantic Ocean. Large boulders known as glacial erratics are scattered across the area.


Colonial Era

The North Shore was first settled in the mid-1600s. Much of the area was initially controlled by the Dutch colony of New Netherland. Towns in the eastern part of the North Shore were settled by the English under the jurisdiction of the New Haven Colony and Connecticut Colony. This arrangement ended in 1664 with the English takeover of New Netherland, when all of Long Island was transferred into the new Province of New York.

In its early days the North Shore was largely agricultural. Whaling was also a component of the early economy, as is commemorated in Cold Spring Harbor's Whaling Museum & Education Center.

Gilded Era

Oheka Castle
Oheka Castle, former estate of financier Otto Hermann Kahn

During the Second Industrial Revolution, great fortunes were made in steel, transportation and other industries. Beginning in the early 1890s, lavish private estates were erected on what became known as the "Gold Coast" of Long Island. In all, over 500 mansions were built during this spree, concentrated in 70 square miles (180 km2).

Among those were expansive faux chateaux and castles belonging to the Vanderbilts, Astors, Whitneys, Charles Pratt, J. P. Morgan, F. W. Woolworth, and others. Otto Kahn's Oheka Castle was reputed to be the second largest private home in the United States, second only to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Alternatively, some eschewed formal mansions and erected large shingle-style and clapboard "cottages", such as Theodore Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill.

Old Westbury Gardens Mansion
Old Westbury Gardens, the former estate of U.S. Steel heir John Shaffer Phipps, is a museum home today

The greatest architects, landscapers, decorators and firms were employed, including Stanford White, John Russell Pope, Guy Lowell, and Carrère and Hastings. Architectural styles included English Tudor, French Chateau, Georgian, Gothic, Mediterranean, Norman, Roman, Spanish, and combinations of these. Rooms, outdoor structures, and entire buildings were dismantled in Europe and reassembled on the North Shore. Complimenting the great houses were formal gardens, gazebos, greenhouses, stables, guest houses, gate houses, swimming pools, reflecting pools, ponds, children’s playhouses, pleasure palaces, golf courses, and tennis courts. Activities such as horse riding, hunting, fishing, fox hunting, polo, yachting, golf, swimming, tennis, skeet shooting and winter sports, were held at the estates or exclusive clubs nearby such as the Beaver Dam Club, the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club (1871), Meadow Brook Club (1881), Manhasset Bay Yacht Club (1892), Piping Rock Club (1912), and Creek Club (1923). Privacy was maintained with the huge land holdings, hedges and trees, fences, gates and gate houses, private roads, and lack of maps showing the location of the estates.

Post-War era

Following World War II many Gold Coast mansions were demolished and their estates subdivided into suburban-style developments. Only about 200 of the original 500 survive. As fortunes faded some of the largest or most prominent Gilded Era showpieces, such as Daniel Guggenheim's Gould-Guggenheim Estate, Theodore Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill, William Vanderbilt II's Eagle's Nest, the Alexander P. de Seversky Mansion, Otto Kahn's Oheka Castle, and John Shaffer Phipps' Westbury House were turned into museum homes, conference centers, and resorts. Others repurposed for non-residential uses include Herbert L. Pratt's Glen Cove country home, "The Braes", turned into the Webb Institute, Walter Chrysler's Kings Point estate, "Forker House", turned into the United States Merchant Marine Academy, and U.S. Steel heir Childs Frick's "Clayton" the Nassau County Museum of Art.


Long Island North Shore
Bluffs along the North Shore

Delineated perceptually by the Queens-Nassau border, the North Shore is marked by a series of necks (peninsulas) and populated harbors. North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and Huntington Towns comprise the land ownership of this area, which is noted for its preservation of Gilded Age Estates. Beyond here, the North Shore becomes Towns of Smithtown and Brookhaven, where a similar trend of peninsulas and sheltered harbors are the sites of hamlets and towns such as Stony Brook, Port Jefferson, Wading River, etc..

Once the island splits into two forks at its east end, the North Shore's hills largely flatten out (and enter the Town of Riverhead) to an out-wash plain and becomes largely rural (and enters the Town of Southold), with an economic stronghold on agriculture, particularly in the shape of wineries and vineyards. This recent trend, beginning in the 1980s with the conversion of potato farms, has given the North Fork the distinction of being the most productive agricultural area in New York State. Despite this, North Fork, contrasts starkly with the more populated and more well-known South Fork's Hamptons. The North Fork terminates at Orient Point, where the Cross Sound Ferry Company has a terminal for ferries bound for New London, CT. and Block Island, RI.

Greenport, a village in Southold midway between Orient and Riverhead, is a major economic center for the North Fork and as such, is the eastern terminus of the Long Island Rail Road's Main Line. The North Fork is also geographically tied to a separate township, Shelter Island, an island in the Peconic Bay accessible via ferry that leaves from Greenport, adjacent to the railroad station. The island also has a ferry on its south side that connects with North Haven on the South Fork.

Extant Gold Coast estates

Demolished mansions

Some mansions burned down, others that were abandoned were vandalized or overtaken by vegetation. Many were torn down to make room for developments, as the Great Depression, poor financial decisions, increasing requirements for upkeep, and increasing income taxes depleted family fortunes. Some of the notable mansions that are now gone are included in the table below with some of their features.

Mansion Construction Rooms Acres Architects Status Location
Beacon Towers 1917–1918 60 18 Hunt & Hunt demolished 1945 40°51′53″N 73°43′40″W / 40.86472°N 73.72778°W / 40.86472; -73.72778
Burrwood 1898–1899 40+ 1,000 Carrère and Hastings demolished 1995 40°53′1″N 73°28′12″W / 40.88361°N 73.47000°W / 40.88361; -73.47000
Farnsworth c. 1914 50 Guy Lowell demolished 1966 40°51′50″N 73°33′58″W / 40.86389°N 73.56611°W / 40.86389; -73.56611 (stable and garage)
Ferguson Castle 1908 40 Allen W. Jackson demolished 1970 40°53′39″N 73°25′6″W / 40.89417°N 73.41833°W / 40.89417; -73.41833 (gate house)
Garvan 1891 60 101 demolished mid-1970s 40°47′59″N 73°36′4″W / 40.79972°N 73.60111°W / 40.79972; -73.60111
Harbor Hill 1900–1902 688 Stanford White demolished Spring 1947 40°47′57″N 73°38′1″W / 40.79917°N 73.63361°W / 40.79917; -73.63361
Inisfada 1920 87 225 John Torrey Windrim demolished December 2013 40°47′07″N 73°39′59.2″W / 40.78528°N 73.666444°W / 40.78528; -73.666444
Laurelton Hall 1902–1906 65 600 Louis Comfort Tiffany burned down 1957 40°52′22″N 73°29′1″W / 40.87278°N 73.48361°W / 40.87278; -73.48361
Matinecock Point 1913 41 257 Christopher Grant La Farge demolished 1980/1981 40°53′59″N 73°37′53″W / 40.89972°N 73.63139°W / 40.89972; -73.63139
Meudon c. 1900 80 300 Charles P.H. Gilbert demolished 1955 40°53′51″N 73°36′15″W / 40.89750°N 73.60417°W / 40.89750; -73.60417
Pembroke 1914–1916? 82 62 Charles P.H. Gilbert demolished 1968 40°52′21″N 73°39′11″W / 40.87250°N 73.65306°W / 40.87250; -73.65306
Rosemary Farm 1907 159 William Eyre burned down 1991 or 1992 40°54′25″N 73°28′38″W / 40.90694°N 73.47722°W / 40.90694; -73.47722
Roslyn House 1891 James Brown Lord demolished 1974 40°47′55″N 73°36′43″W / 40.79861°N 73.61194°W / 40.79861; -73.61194
Westbrook Farms/Knollwood 1906–1920 60 262 Hiss & Weekes demolished 1959 40°49′33″N 73°32′11″W / 40.82583°N 73.53639°W / 40.82583; -73.53639

Cities, villages, neighborhoods, and hamlets

Images for kids

Black History Month on Kiddle
Famous African-American Pilots:
James B. Knighten
Azellia White
Willa Brown
kids search engine
North Shore (Long Island) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.