After 125 years, Nassau County still thrives


When we think about 125 years of Nassau County, we have to look back to when the newly expanded New York City enveloped Queens County into its new domain — well, not quite all of it.

The towns of Hempstead, Oyster Bay and North Hempstead were excluded from the plans to join the city — despite being part of Queens. The 55,000 people who lived in this part of Queens County were not happy, and they gathered at a Mineola hotel in late January 1898 to do something about it.

They decided it was time to create their own county — which they would call Nassau, for King William III, who reigned from the House of Nassau when this land was first settled, and whose house name was already used for some settlements on the island.

But convincing lawmakers in Albany wasn’t so easy.

The measure ultimately passed, however, and was signed into law by Gov. Frank Black on April 27, 1898, officially bringing Nassau County into existence as of Jan. 1, 1899.

Now, 125 years later, Nassau is New York’s fifth-largest county by population with nearly 1.4 million people — making it larger than both the Bronx and Staten Island — and the 29th largest in the nation.

Why do so many choose Nassau County to not only work in and visit, but also to call home? Especially with the bustling, never-sleeping New York City quite literally over the next hill?

That answer is simple: Big homes and big yards. Less noise and pollution. Quieter streets. Much lower crime rates. And superior schools — especially when it comes to public schools.

Where else can you jump in the ocean at Jones Beach, then head to Tanglewood Preserve, in Rockville Centre, to enjoy everything else nature has to offer, and finish your day exploring the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Uniondale?

Why just read about history when you can actually visit it? Like Sagamore Hill, in Oyster Bay — the home of Theodore Roosevelt, existing today pretty much the way it did when the 26th president lived there. There’s also Raynham Hall, also in Oyster Bay, which was a spy headquarters during the American Revolution.

The Rock Hall Museum, in Lawrence, brings Colonial times to life not just with the artifacts inside, but the 1767 mansion they are all housed in.

Even Eisenhower Park, in East Meadow, has made history. As the site of the former Meadow Brook Club, it hosted the first-ever national women’s golf tournament in 1895, won by Lucy Barnes — the wife of Charles S. Brown, who would go on to found what is now the Brown Harris Stevens real estate company. The park also hosted the ninth PGA championship tourney in 1926, won by Walter Hagen — the “father of professional golf.”

There are also great places to shop, pretty much in every neighborhood. So many Nassau County businesses are family-owned. So many of them have been in families for generations. And you know it the moment you walk through their doors. The way you are greeted. The way you are served. It proves you don’t need to be a Roosevelt to be treated like royalty here.

But when it’s all said and done, Nassau County is all about all of us, the people. Our neighbors. Our doctors and nurses. Our school superintendents, principals and teachers. Our police officers. Our sanitation workers. Those who do good in public service. The men and women who volunteer — and put their own safety on the line — as firefighters and first responders.

“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in,” Teddy Roosevelt once said. And that’s true not just for the United States, but also in our neighborhoods. And all of us here in Nassau County have shone for the past 125 years, and we look forward to shining for the next 125, too.