The nine villages and several unincorporated communities that make up the city of Great Neck are steeped in history. F. Scott Fitzgerald chose Great Neck as the setting for his famous novel, The Great Gatsby, and even though the area has gone through many changes since Fitzgerald’s time, one trip to Great Neck makes it clear why the community is one of Long Island’s gems.
“There’s always been something about Great Neck,” says Carol Kopelman, a Great Neck resident and real estate agent for Coldwell Banker. “It’s the quality of life,” she says. “One of the secrets of this area is how wonderful the community is. There’s so much to do—we’ve got a senior citizens’ center, many temples and churches, adult education classes, art classes. And people take advantage of all of it.”
Great Neck History
Occupying only 1.4 square miles on what is considered the Great Neck Peninsula of Long Island, Great Neck is the first suburb one encounters when entering Nassau County. Due to its proximity to New York City, the Great Neck area has always been a hotspot of economic and real estate growth, especially over the past 60 years. According to the 2000 Census report, the population of Great Neck is nearly 10,000. That number shows just how much growth has occurred since the few Dutch and English settlers made the area their home in 1644.
Founded as an agricultural community, farmland and orchards made up much of the landscape around Great Neck. When older residents or history buffs refer to “the village,” they usually are referring to a specific section of the main drag, Middle Neck Road. This road was the first center of commerce in the agricultural village and still serves that purpose today, though streets like Bond Street have grown to fit the demand for commerce as well.
After the Civil War ended, Great Neck enjoyed the first of many development booms. Schools, churches and the first post office were built and shortly thereafter, the real estate wave followed.