Tucked away on a peninsula along Nassau County's north shore is a little town called Port Washington. Just live square miles in area, this picturesque village features treelined streets, breathtaking views of Manhasset Bay, beautiful parks, an active community center, a theater, fantastic restaurants and wonderful shops.
Located just 17 miles from New York City, Port Washington is easily accessible by car, train or boat. Port's population of about 33,000 represents a multitude of ethnic and religious backgrounds. All share a sense of community pride that runs deep. It all began with the Matinecock Indians, who called the town "Sin. Sink" or "place of many stones." In 1643, they sold the land to 18 English families from Stamford, Connecticut for a mix of kettles, wampum, lead, gunĴpowder, cloth and clothing. The new owners called the land "Cow Neck" after the common pasture they all used. Later, they changed the name to Cow Neck Village and established dairy farming and fishing ventures.
During the mid 1800s, shellfishing became an important industry, as did sand mining. A ferry began service to New Rochelle in 1753, a stagecoach began bringing residents into New York City in 1830, and in 1898 the Long Island Rail Road established a station in Port. The service brought visitors to the area and helped to establish Port Washington as a bedroom community for NYC commuters.
Today, residents and visitors alike appreciate and enjoy the beautiful waterfront area with its beaches, parks, marinas, art galleries, antique shops, boutiques and free summer concerts - History buffs can visit historic homes and browse through the local history and nautical collections of the renowned Port Washington Public Library.
Village history includes some interesting highlights. In 1937, for example, Pan Am flying boats left from Manhasset Bay at Port Washington, the first transatlantic flights ever. In 1865, sand mining became a major industry, with many of New York City's skyscrapers being built with "Cow Bay Sand."
Main Street, which Sinclair Lewis enjoyed during his Port Washington residency of 1914-1915, is the epitome of small-town villages. Trees line the thoroughfare, along with flowers and benches. The wide variety of shops ranges from small boutiques to art galleries and antique shops.
If you're hungry, Port Washington is the place to go. There are several delicatessens, on Main Street, along with bagel shops, pizzerias and cafes. Sit-down restaurants cater to virtually every taste and budget. Some overlook Manhasset Bay and offer outdoor dining during warm weather.