If the town were to be incorporated as a city, it would be the second-largest city in New York behind New York City. Hempstead is also the most populous municipality in the New York metropolitan area outside of New York City. It would be the 18th-largest city in the country, behind Charlotte, North Carolina and ahead of Seattle, Washington. Hofstra University's primary campus is located in Hempstead
The town was first settled around 1644 following the establishment of a treaty between English colonists, John Carman and Robert Fordham, and the Lenape Indians in 1643. Although the settlers were from the English colony of Connecticut, a patent was issued by the government of New Netherland after the settlers had purchased land from the local natives. This transaction is depicted in a mural in the Hempstead Village Hall, reproduced from a poster commemorating the 300th anniversary of Hempstead Village.
In local Dutch-language documents of the 1640s and later, the town was invariably called Heemstede, and several of Hempstead's original 50 patentees were Dutch, suggesting that Hempstead was named after the Dutch town and/or castle Heemstede, which are near the cities of Haarlem and Amsterdam. However, the authorities possibly had Dutchified a name given by co-founder John Carman, who was born in 1606 in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England, on land owned by his ancestors since the 13th century.
In 1664, the settlement under the new Province of New York adopted the Duke's Laws, austere statutes that became the basis upon which the laws of many colonies were to be founded. For a time, Hempstead became known as "Old Blue", as a result of the "Blue Laws".
During the American Revolution, the Loyalists in the south and the American sympathizers in the north caused a split in 1784 into "North Hempstead" and "South Hempstead". With the 1898 incorporation of the Borough of Queens as part of the city of New York, and the 1899 split of Queens County to create Nassau County, some southwestern portions of the Town of Hempstead seceded from the town and became part of the Borough of Queens.
Richard Hewlett, who was born in Hempstead, served as a Lieutenant Colonel with the British Army under General Oliver De Lancey in the American Revolution. Afterward, Hewlett departed the United States with other Loyalists and settled in the newly created Province of New Brunswick in what later became Canada. A settlement there was named Hampstead, in Queen's County next to Long Island in the Saint John River.
The town is headed by the Supervisor. The responsibilities of the office include presiding over meetings of the Town Council and directing the legislative and administrative function of that body. The position also entails creating and implementing the town's budget.
Prior to 1994, the town also had a Presiding Supervisor, who along with the Supervisor, sat on what was then Nassau County's main governmental body, the Board of Supervisors, along with the Supervisors of the towns of North Hempstead and Oyster Bay and the independent cities of Long Beach—formerly a part of Hempstead Town until its incorporation as a separate municipality in 1922—and Glen Cove, which had been carved out of Oyster Bay Town in 1917. Typically, the Presiding Supervisor, besides chairing the weekly county Board of Supervisors meetings, acted as the senior official in the town government with the Supervisor in a more junior, subordinate role; a number of Supervisors moved up to Presiding Supervisor whenever that office became vacant, including, in succession during the 1970s, Ralph G. Caso and Francis T. Purcell, both of whom later went on to become the county executive, and then Al D'Amato, before he moved up to the Senate. Having the Presiding Supervisor on the county board along with the Supervisor gave Hempstead—by far the most populous of the county's three towns and two cities—the most clout on that body. However, in 1993–94, a federal judge ruled that the board's makeup violated the one-person, one-vote constitutional principle and also gave no representation to the country's growing minority population. As a result of that ruling, the Board of Supervisors was replaced by a 19-member county legislature. Gregory P. Peterson served as the last Presiding Supervisor, as the position was abolished with the demise of the county board.
The Town Council comprises six voting members, elected from a councilmanic district. Their primary function is to adopt the annual budget, adopting and amending the town code and the building zone ordinances, adopting all traffic regulations, and hearing applications for changes of zone and special exceptions to zoning codes.
Other elected officials in the town include the clerk and the receiver of taxes. The clerk is responsible for issuing birth, marriage, and death certificates and is considered the town's record keeper. The Town of Hempstead formerly elected the offices of Constable, Overseer of the Poor, Town Assessor, Town Treasurer, Town Auditors, Superintendent of Highways, Overseer of the Public Cemetery, and Justices of the Peace. Most of these functions have been included in other governments or made non-elected.
Communities and Locations
|Atlantic Beach||Island Park|
|Floral Park (small part in North Hempstead)||Mineola (almost all in North Hempstead)|
|Freeport||New Hyde Park (part; with North Hempstead)|
|Garden City (small part in North Hempstead)||Rockville Centre|
|Hempstead (village)||South Floral Park|
|Hewlett Bay Park||Stewart Manor|
|Hewlett Harbor||Valley Stream|
|Baldwin||Malverne Park Oaks|
|Barnum Island||North Bellmore|
|Bay Park||North Lynbrook|
|Bellerose Terrace||North Merrick|
|Bellmore||North Valley Stream|
|Bethpage (almost all in Oyster Bay)||North Wantagh|
|East Atlantic Beach||North Woodmere|
|East Garden City||Oceanside|
|East Meadow||Point Lookout|
|Franklin Square||Salisbury (South Westbury)|
|Garden City South||Seaford|
|Harbor Isle||South Hempstead|
|Hewlett||South Valley Stream|
The Long Island Rail Road's Main Line runs through the northwestern part of the town with stations from Bellerose through Merillon Avenue in Garden City. The Hempstead Branch breaks away from the Main Line in Floral Park, and uses stations from Bellerose into Hempstead. The West Hempstead Branch runs from Valley Stream northeast to West Hempstead. Further south in the town, the Babylon Branch runs from the New York City Line into southern portions of the Town of Oyster Bay with stations between Valley Stream and Seaford. Also the Far Rockaway Branch branches off from Valley Stream and curves to the southwest from that station through Inwood before finally re-entering the city in the Rockaways. Just east of there, the Long Beach Branch breaks away at Lynbrook and runs southeast into Long Beach.
The Town of Hempstead is served primarily by Nassau Inter-County Express bus routes, though some MTA Bus Routes enter Nassau County from Queens. The City of Long Beach also has a separate bus service.
|Meadowbrook State Parkway|
|Wantagh State Parkway|
|Southern State Parkway|
|New York State Route 25|
|New York State Route 24|
|New York State Route 27|
|New York State Route 102|
|New York State Route 105|
|New York State Route 106|
|New York State Route 107|
|New York State Route 135|
|New York State Route 878|