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Bay Shore, New York

Bay Shore is a hamlet (and census-designated place), located in the town of Islip, County of Suffolk, New York, United States. Bay Shore celebrated its 300 year anniversary in 2008. The population was 23,852 at the 2000 census.

Bay Shore has a railroad station of the Long Island Rail Road, which serves both commuters and vacationers as a major gateway to Fire Island.


===Early History=== Before being officially named Bay Shore in the late 19th century, the hamlet was earlier known by the local Native American names Penataquit and, later, Awixa.

The oldest structure in Bay Shore is Sagtikos Manor. The earliest part of the sprawling house was built in 1697 by New York City's first native born mayor, Stephanus Van Cortlandt. The manor functioned for a time during the American Revolution as local headquarters for British forces. George Washington used it as a stopover during a 1790 tour of Long Island.

19th & Early 20th Centuries

Like nearby Babylon Village, Bay Shore became renowned in the late 19th century for its shopping district and resorts. With its convenient and appealing location along the Great South Bay and access to Fire Island, Bay Shore became popular with affluent New Yorkers looking to escape the city. It was a tourist spot on weekends and during the summer, in large part because the newly built Long Island Railroad enabled easy access from Manhattan and Brooklyn. It eventually evolved into a suburb of New York City.

Early Film Industry

According to the Suffolk County Film Commission, the Biograph movie studios started filming in 1902 in Bay Shore. The film cameras needed the bright light reflected by the ocean to properly expose the film. The Keystone Kops had their start in Bay Shore.

Post-World War II Development

Population increased significantly after World War II: From the mid-1950s through mid-1960s, a wide variety of housing developments were constructed on land that had previously been farms and unused woodlands. Those developments were settled largely by working and middle class first time home buyers who were following a typical pattern of urban flight from New York City. Many of those new residents were Irish American or Italian American. A sizeable Jewish community was also established.

Despite strains on the sense of community and historical continuity brought on by sudden and substantial growth, the town remained well-regarded. Main Street continued to be a popular shopping destination for people from all over the region.

1970s Downturn

Unfortunately, Bay Shore suffered a decline beginning in the late 1960s. The hamlet was never incorporated. Without a local government, long-term residents were unable to make local decisions that were instead left to the Town of Islip and Suffolk County. Density and demographics shifted in some older neighborhoods when rezoning permitted businesses, rental properties and multi-family dwellings where previously only single-family houses had been allowed. Many Main Street storefronts became dilapidated or vacant. The luxury Cortland Hotel along with other historical sites was closed, the parks were left unkempt, and disgusted prominent residents relocated. A contributing factor to blight in Bay Shore's downtown shopping district may have been construction just two miles away of the large South Shore Mall (currently Westfield Shopping Center of Bay Shore). Additionally, deinstitutionalization caused former residents of the nearby Pilgrim State Hospital to be hastily placed in rental housing and former hotels in the town's center, often without sufficient professional support.

Facilities and restaurants on the Great South Bay waterfront fared better, partly because it is an embarkation point for ferries to villages on Fire Island that are not accessible by private car.

Suburban Renewal & the Town Today

Several attempts were made at suburban regeneration from the 1970s through the 1990s. A large number of upscale town houses and condominiums were built in gated communities on the grounds of old estates. A planned aquarium was never constructed. However, a former movie theater and one time opera house was rebuilt and expanded into an attractive YMCA. Redeveloping Main Street continues to be a focal point; efforts include new sidewalks, antique-style streetlights, new landscaping and parks. Main Street is again becoming a destination; there are many attractive and well-rated new restaurants, clothing boutiques and other stores and offices.

The Bay Shore Public High School and Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library (in adjacent Brightwaters) have recently undergone extensive renovation and expansion, with exceptional attention to architectural detail.

Bay Shore continues to exhibit and support greater socioeconomic, ethnic, religious and racial diversity than many other suburban Long Island towns.

Historical Mansions & Estates

South of Main Street is an area of mansions and other large homes built from the 1880s through 1920s. Oconee Estates is the most well-known remaining section of such houses. Though quite a few architecturally impressive homes from that period remain, many others have since been subdivided, converted to commercial properties or demolished.

Awixa Avenue is known for large historic homes, like the W.H. Wray House (which is reputedly haunted by the ghost of Adeline Wray), the Awixa Castle, the Hulse House (which has fallen into disrepair), and the Guastavino Tile House. For a quick intro to Raphael Gustavino click here.

The neighboring town of Brightwaters is also known for distinctive homes of the same era.

Transportation serving Bay Shore

===Roads=== Bay Shore is accessible by major roads on Long Island such as:
According to the United States Census Bureau, the hamlet has a total area of 6.1 square miles (15.8 km²).13.6 km² (5.3 mi²) of it is land and 2.1 km² (0.8 mi²) of it (13.30%) is water.

North Bay Shore Housing

On the north side of town was an area of rundown housing near the railroad that was torn down and replaced with town houses for those with low to moderate incomes. Some other of the smaller, older housing stock in the northern part of the hamlet has attracted an artist community.


As of the census of 2005, there were 18,000 people, 8,000 households, and 5,000 families residing in the hamlet. The population density was 4,524.5 per square mile (1,747.5/km²). There were 8,639 housing units at an average density of 1,638.7/sq mi (632.9/km²). The racial makeup of the hamlet was 71.99% White, 17% African American, 0.1% Native American, 1% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 7% from other races, and 3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19.86% of the population.

There were 8,194 households out of which 33.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.8% were married couples living together, 15.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.5% were non-families. 25.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.1 and the average family size was 3.10.

In the hamlet, the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.0 males.

The median income for a household in the hamlet was $50,155, and the median income for a family was $69,046. Males had a median income of $49,878 versus $39,851 for females. The per capita income for the hamlet was $29,437. About 8.1% of families and 12.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.1% of those under age 18 and 8.1% of those age 65 or over.

Bay Shore Union Free School District

* Five elementary schools
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