Valley Stream, New York It Takes a Village

 Valley Stream is known for being a big village with a small town feel. With a population of nearly 38,000, Valley Stream is one of the largest villages  in the state of New York. The incorporated village is located inside the  southwest part of the town of Hempstead, along the border of Queens  

 The Long Island community offers an abundance of annual activities, with the  summer months especially festive. The village sponsors a well-attended summer  day-camp program, and the annual Fourth of July fireworks show at Firemen's  Memorial Field draws about 30,000 people.  

 Valley Stream's 160 acres of parkland include picturesque Hendrickson Park, with  amenities such as a mile track around a lake, three pools, tennis and  basketball courts; there's also a 9/11 memorial and an off-the leash dog park.  

 Plenty of shops, eateries and a wealth of services can be found along major  thoroughfares, including Rockaway Avenue, the area's original business  district. Green Acres Mall, one of the Island's first malls, opened in 1956.  

 Cape-styled homes dominate the area's neighborhoods, but Colonials, ranches and  Tudors also can be found on tightly packed, neat lots, as well as two-family  homes, numerous condos and housing for seniors.  

 Communities bordering Valley Stream are Elmont (Home of Belmont Park Racetrack),  Lynbrook, Malverne, Franklin Square, Hewlett, Woodmere and the Queens  neighborhood, Rosedale.  

 Early History

 In 1640, the Rockaway Indians sold the area that is now known as Valley Stream  to the Dutch West India Company. The heavily wooded area remained undeveloped  for over 200 years.  

 The 1840 census lists about 20 families, mainly large farm owners residing in  the area. During this time the northwest section was called “Fosters Meadow,” The business section of town on Rockaway Avenue was known as “Rum Junction,” because of its bustling nightlife scene, the northeast section that was home to  a fertilizer plant was called “Skunks Misery.” The area known as “Hungry Harbor,” which has retained its’ name, was home to a squatter’s community.  

 A Growth Spurt

 In the mid 1800s, Hempstead Turnpike was the only route that connected Valley  Stream to New York City. Then in 1853, a planked, one lane road named Merrick Road made its way through  Valley Stream connecting the Village to Merrick in the east, and Jamaica to the  west. With this new thoroughfare, Valley Stream residents as well as the town’s industry, began its move southward.  

 In 1869, the South Side Railroad made its first stop in Valley Stream. Between  the new railroad and emergence of Merrick Road, Valley Stream began to expand  into a substantial community. Around this time tourists from Brooklyn and  Queens flocked to the area to vacation in the newly opened Hendrickson Park or  play golf in a freshly opened course. Many of these tourists who came for a  visit would eventually move to the area and call Valley Stream home.  

 Sensing an opportunity to lure white collar commuters to the area, and make a  bundle in the process, real estate developer William R. Gibson purchased 500  acres of land on Roosevelt Avenue in 1922. He would go on to build homes on  Avondale, Berkeley, Cambridge, Derby, Elmwood, Cochran Place and Dartmouth  Street. Valley Stream’s population exploded during this time.  

 As a result of this growth spurt Valley Stream was incorporated as a village in  1925. Four years later Gibson petitioned the Long Island Rail Road for a stop  in Valley Stream. LIRR agreed but only if Gibson would build the station  himself. He did and on May 29, 1929, the Gibson station officially opened. The  Gibson Station currently retains the name of its founder.  

 Valley Stream Today

 Valley Stream is the 30th largest community in New York and its’ home and condo prices are among the most expensive in the state and the  country.  

 The area is home to a mixture of white and blue collar workers and is a diverse,  vibrant community. Tourists continue to flock to the area to take in the towns’ stunning botanical gardens, numerous art galleries, plethora of restaurants and  upscale boutiques and the extremely popular Green Acres Mall.  

 Former residents of Valley Stream include SNL funnyman Fred Armisen, actor/director Edward Burns, actor Steve  Buscemi, former NFL pro bowler and Detroit Lion Stephen Boyd and the reggae  singer Shaggy.  

 Christy Smith-Sloman is a staff writer at The Cooperator and other publications.

 

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