SOUTHAMPTON, NEW YORK... WHY I CHOOSE TO LIVE HERE:
It was 1978 and I had just moved to Manhattan from Michigan. I was very new to the Hamptons as a weekend get-away and was just beginning to try to spend every summer weekend here. Living in the cement "oven" of the Big Apple can be so oppressive!
About 2 hours away is the escape that everyone "in the know" now enjoys! Record crowds now fill The Hamptons every summer and Fall weekend.
What is it about Southampton, New York that made me choose to spend my summer weekends here? The very same things that made me choose to eventually live here permanently; but the most important reason was the history of the town of Southampton..that and the beautiful, long, white sandy beaches!..and the Great Peconic Bay...Ah, the Bay!
LOCATED on the South Fork of Long Island and about half-way to the furthest end of the South Fork, Southampton is the largest "town" on the East End of Long Island. The Town of Southampton is made up of a series of hamlets, each with it's own identity and personality.
Southampton Town encompasses: Riverhead, Westhampton, Hampton Bays, Shinnecock, Southampton Village, North Sea, Noyac, Water Mill, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, Sagaponack and Sagaponack Village.
Settled in 1640 by the earliest colonists from Lynn Massachusetts, Southampton is the location where they first came ashore. They disembarked at a place called "Conscience Point"; this is marked carefully as a historical place but you would never know that the courageous souls who first settled this part of the world came ashore on this modest, sandy point. It is now a designated historical landmark and wildlife refuge. You can walk the original trail out onto the very tip of the point..it is awesome to consider the human suffering and sacrifice that the earliest Colonists must have endured here.
"Conscience Point" is also a large building that was built in the 30's and it had a reputation as a "hot" restaurant in the 70's and 80's. It was a place where all summer residents enjoyed an excursion to the North Sea area....a jaunt that took them further North then most had ever been. But a trip that they enjoyed profusely for the delicious food and atmosphere. It became popular again in early 2000's when it became a night club to the rich and famous and where 9 people were run down by a well known socialite who was leaving the night club very late. She was inebriated and carelessly stepped down on the accelerator while in "reverse". This is what this historical landmark is most famous for now, unfortunately.
Meanwhile, the town has slowly begun to recognize the importance of the Conscience Point site, especially since, just a few feet away is the exact spot where the colonists first stepped foot on shore in 1640. Southampton Town has used the Peconic Land Preservation Funds (a 2 % land preservation tax paid by home buyers) to buy the old building that comprised the night club "Conscience Point" and the adjoining 78 boat marina on the North Sea Inlet.
Conscience Point has become quite an attribute to the town since this is their first purchase of major water frontage with a marina, and it has saved the historic spot where our ancestors first landed.
I have conjured up visions of an excursion boat, perhaps a "Tall Ship" taking the original route along the shore between Lynn Massachusetts and Southampton and I would love to see such a site where one could traverse the land, by foot and then take the same trip that those brave settlers took so many years ago! Well, maybe in the future that will be a project to accomplish! That one is on my list of things to research and add to my "Bucket List"!
In 1978, it was still very quiet in the Hamptons---most people were here in the summer months and NOT here in the winter. Memorial Day was the marker for the beginning of Summer and Labor Day marked the end.
Most people who came to the Hamptons then were the wealthy few who had second homes here. The rest of the population was made up of local families and a few trendsetters who were able to rent little cottages along the shores of the Bays and in the small villages in the summer months. The local population was made up of farmers and fishermen who lived here throughout the year. They were generally direct discendants of the colonists who settled the area: Halsey, Herrick, Post, Rogers and Howell.
There were many people who lived in New York City who had never heard of the Hamptons at that time---That was a big surprise to me, especially after I spent my first summer here! This was the most beautiful place I had ever seen!
Very few New Yorkers knew the history at the time--it was a very well kept secret, kept by the original local families who were part of the fabric of early America. The history remained relatively unknown for most of the earliest days, not for any other reason but for the privacy that the early families chose over the years of having the honor and the privilege of being the few who came to this beautiful place in the 18th and 19th century.
THE SIMPLE LIFE!
Most of the visitors here in the Hamptons in the 60's, 70's and 80's were from New York City; they came here for the relaxation and the simpler things---bike riding, fishing, swimming, boating and long walks on the beaches. The ocean drew more people in then but that has changed more recently as visitors discover the Northern part of the South Fork, ie: North Sea, Noyac and other wonderful bay front communities built along the Great Peconic Bay. Inlets and tributaries create grassy wetlands that attract the wild life that this part of Long Island has always been famous for. Wild turkeys, songbirds, Long Island Ducks and Canadian geese dominate along with the seagulls, Cormorants and other indigenous sea birds. It is glorious along the bay and ocean shorelines!
Life was simple then
GRASSY WETLANDS ON A SOUTHAMPTON ESTATE
GREAT PECONIC BAY BEACH A BOARD WALK
The sandy white beaches are what most people come here for; They are spectacular and never full--the expansive white sand attracts hundreds, perhaps thousands every summer, but the beauty of the Hampton's and the reason most Europeans come here is that the beaches are never over flowing, as they are in Europe. Crowds may gather and people may come from miles around but they just can't fill those wide, white beautiful stretches of glorious sand and blue water!
COOPERS BEACH, SOUTHAMPTON, NY
Voted the most beautiful beach in the world by the Michelin Guide, Coopers beach is a sight to behold! All the pictures in the world can't do it justice: wide and gracious, the wide sand seems to be endless; big ocean front estates peek up over the dunes, appearing as dots on the high bluffs at the furthest point and seeming to be ready to plunge into the ocean at other points along the way. On the horizon, a freighter seems motionless and a fishing boat bobs closer in to shore; there is a sailboat or 2, sails billowing. The horizon appears to go on into infinity, the only sound is the water as wave after wave moves onto the shore, pulls away and then even stronger, hits the shore again...and again...and again.
All the power that pushes and pulls the waves in and out leaves me feeling insignificant....small; and yet I feel so invigorated, so energized by the salt air..."the best place in all the world" is the only thing that comes to mind now.
COOPERS BEACH--VOTED THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACH IN THE WORLD!!!