Suffolk County, New York

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Suffolk County, New York
Seal of Suffolk County, New York
Map of New York highlighting Suffolk County
Location in the state of New York
Map of the U.S. highlighting New York
New York's location in the U.S.
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

2,373 sq mi (6,146 km²)
912 sq mi (2,362 km²)
1,461 sq mi (3,784 km²), 61.56%
 - (2010)
 - Density

1,637/sq mi (632.2/km²)
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Suffolk County, New York
Seal of Suffolk County, New York
Map of New York highlighting Suffolk County
Location in the state of New York
Map of the U.S. highlighting New York
New York's location in the U.S.
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

2,373 sq mi (6,146 km²)
912 sq mi (2,362 km²)
1,461 sq mi (3,784 km²), 61.56%
 - (2010)
 - Density

1,637/sq mi (632.2/km²)

Suffolk County /ˈsʌfək/ is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. Located on the eastern portion of Long Island, it is the easternmost county in the state and part of the New York metropolitan area. Largely suburban, it is the fourth-most populous county in the state, with 1,493,350 people as of the 2010 census. It was named after the county of Suffolk in England, from where its earliest settlers came. The largest of Long Island's four counties, and the second-largest of 62 in the state, it measures 86 miles (138 km) in length and 26 miles (42 km) in width at its widest (including water).[1] Its county seat is Riverhead, though many county offices are in Hauppauge on the west side of the county where most of the population lives. There are also offices in Smithtown, for the legislature, Yaphank, and Farmingville.

Suffolk and Nassau counties together are generally referred to as "Long Island" by area residents — as distinct from the New York City boroughs of Queens (Queens County) and Brooklyn (Kings County), which geographically make up the island's western end.



Suffolk County was an original county of the Province of New York, one of twelve created in 1683. It was known for a time as East Riding of Yorkshire. Its boundaries were essentially the same as at present, with only minor changes in the boundary with its western neighbor, which was originally Queens County but has been Nassau County since the separation of Nassau from Queens in 1899.

According to the Suffolk County website, the county is the leading agricultural county in the state of New York, saying that: "The weather is temperate, clean water is abundant, and the soil is so good that Suffolk is the leading agricultural county in New York State. That Suffolk is still number one in farming, even with the development that has taken place, is a tribute to thoughtful planning, along with the excellent soil, favorable weather conditions, and the work of dedicated farmers in this region."[2]


Suffolk County occupies the easternmost portion of Long Island, in the southeastern portion of New York State. The eastern end of the county splits into two peninsulas, known as the North Fork and the South Fork. The county is surrounded by water on three sides, including the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound, with 980 miles (1,580 km) of coastline. The eastern end contains large bays.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,373 square miles (6,150 km2) of which 912 square miles (2,400 km2) is land and 1,461 square miles (3,780 km2) (61.56%) is water, making it the second largest county by area in the state of New York,[3] and 66% of the land area of Long Island. The highest elevation in the county, and on Long Island as a whole, is Jayne's Hill in West Hills, at 401 feet (122 m) above sea level.

Suffolk County is divided into 10 towns: Babylon, Brookhaven, East Hampton, Huntington, Islip, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Smithtown, Southampton, and Southold. Also part of the county, but not considered parts of the above towns, are the Poospatuck and Shinnecock Indian reservations. Poospatuck is enclaved within Brookhaven in the Mastic CDP, and Shinnecock is enclaved within Southampton, adjacent to Southampton village, Tuckahoe, and Shinnecock Hills.

Major facilities include Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton and Plum Island Animal Disease Center on Plum Island. Several airports serve commuters and business travelers, most notably Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, Republic Airport in East Farmingdale and Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

View of western Fire Island from the top of Fire Island Lighthouse

Law and government

Presidential elections results
200847.4% 309,81551.8% 340,379
200448.5% 309,94949.5% 315,909
200042.0% 240,99253.4% 306,306
199636.1% 182,51051.8% 261,828
199240.4% 220,81138.9% 229,467
198860.5% 311,24238.7% 199,215
198466.0% 335,48533.7% 171,295
198057.0% 256,29433.3% 149,945
197654.1% 248,90845.3% 208,263
197270.3% 316,45229.4% 132,441
196858.2% 218,02732.7% 122,590
196444.4% 144,35055.5% 180,598
196059.3% 166,64440.6% 114,033

Suffolk County had long been a Republican bastion in New York. U.S. Congressman Rick Lazio, who opposed Hillary Clinton in the 2000 Senate race, was from Suffolk County. However, recent elections have turned the county more toward the Democrats. In 2003, Democrat Steve Levy was elected county executive, ending longtime Republican control. In 2001, Democrat Thomas Spota was elected District Attorney, and ran unopposed in 2005. Although Suffolk voters gave George H. W. Bush a victory here in 1992, the county voted for Bill Clinton in 1996 and continued the trend by giving Al Gore an 11-percent victory in the county in 2000. 2004 Democratic candidate John Kerry won by a much smaller margin of one percent, in 2008 Democratic candidate Barack Obama won by a slightly larger 4.4 percent margin, 52%-47%.

Suffolk County is represented by three congressional districts, the first, most of the second, and part of the third. The former two seats are held by Democrats. Tim Bishop, a Democrat, represents the once heavily Republican first district, which includes almost half of the county, from Smithtown to Montauk, including The Hamptons and Riverhead. The second district, which includes Huntington, Brentwood and Bay Shore, is represented by Steve Israel. A Democrat, Israel won the seat vacated by Rick Lazio in 2000 when he made his unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate. The third district, which is mainly in Nassau County, but includes some middle-class coastal areas of southwestern Suffolk County, is represented by Peter King, a Republican.

As a whole both Suffolk and Nassau counties are considered swing counties. However, they tend not to receive significant attention from presidential candidates, as the state of New York has turned reliably Democratic at the national level.

Suffolk County Executives

H. Lee Dennison County Executive Building in Hauppauge
Suffolk County Executives
H. Lee DennisonDemocrat1961–1973
John V.N. KleinRepublican1973–1979
Peter F. CohalanRepublican1979–1986
Michael A. LoGrande*Republican1986–1987
Patrick G. HalpinDemocrat1987–1991
Robert J. GaffneyRepublican1992–2003
Steve Levy**Republican2004–2012
Steve BelloneDemocrat2012–present

* Appointed to complete Cohalan's term

** Levy was originally elected as a Democrat, but became a Republican in 2010.

Suffolk County Legislature

The county is divided into 18 legislative districts, each represented by a legislator. As of 2012, there are 10 Democrats, 6 Republicans, 1 member of the Independence Party of New York, and one legislator from the Working Families Party :

District2012-2013 Legislature2010-2011 Legislature2008-2009 Legislature2006-2007 Legislature2004-2005 Legislature
1Edward P. Romaine (R)Edward P. Romaine (R)Edward P. Romaine (R)Edward P. Romaine (R)Micheal J. Caracciolo (R)
2Jay Schneiderman (I)Jay Schneiderman (I)Jay Schneiderman (I)Jay Schneiderman (R)Jay Schneiderman (R)
3Kate M. Browning (WF)Kate M. Browning (WF)Kate M. Browning (WF)Kate M. Browning (D)Peter O'Leary (R)
4Thomas Muratore (R)Thomas Muratore (R)Brian Beedenbender (D)Joseph T. Caracappa (R)Joseph T. Caracappa (R)
5Kara Hahn (D)Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D)Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D)Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D)Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D)
6Sarah Anker (D)Sarah Anker (D)Daniel P. Losquadro (R)Daniel P. Losquadro (R)Daniel P. Losquadro (R)
7Robert Calarco (D)Jack Eddington (I)Jack Eddington (I)Jack Eddington (D)Brian X. Foley (D)
8William J. Lindsay (D)William J. Lindsay (D)William J. Lindsay (D)William J. Lindsay (D)William J. Lindsay (D)
9Ricardo Montano (D)Ricardo Montano (D)Ricardo Montano (D)Ricardo Montano (D)Ricardo Montano (D)
10Tom Cilmi (R)Tom Cilmi (R)Cameron Alden (R)Cameron Alden (R)Cameron Alden (D)
11Thomas F. Barraga (R)Thomas F. Barraga (R)Thomas F. Barraga (R)Thomas F. Barraga (R)Angie Carpenter (R)
12John M. Kennedy, Jr. (R)John M. Kennedy, Jr. (R)John M. Kennedy, Jr. (R)John M. Kennedy, Jr. (R)John M. Kennedy, Jr. (R)
13Lynne C. Nowick (R)Lynne C. Nowick (R)Lynne C. Nowick (R)Lynne C. Nowick (R)Lynne C. Nowick (R)
14Wayne R. Horsley (D)Wayne R. Horsley (D)Wayne R. Horsley (D)Wayne R. Horsley (D)David Bishop (D)
15DuWayne Gregory (D)DuWayne Gregory (D)DuWayne Gregory (D)Elie Mystal (D)Elie Mystal (D)
16Steven H. Stern (D)Steven H. Stern (D)Steven H. Stern (D)Steven H. Stern (D)Allan Binder (R)
17Louis D'Amaro (D)Louis D'Amaro (D)Louis D'Amaro (D)Louis D'Amaro (D)Paul J. Tonna (R)
18William Spencer (D)Jon Cooper (D)Jon Cooper (D)Jon Cooper (D)Jon Cooper (D)

Republicans controlled the county legislature until a landmark election in November 2005 where three Republican seats switched to the Democrats, giving them control. William Lindsay is the current Presiding Officer of the legislature while DuWayne Gregory, who is African-American, is the majority leader.

In November 2007, the Democratic Party once again retained control over the Suffolk County Legislature picking up one seat in the process.

In November 2009, the Republican Party regained the seat lost in 2007 but still remain in the minority for the 2010-2011 session.

In November 2011, the Democratic Party maintained control over the Suffolk County Legislature picking up one seat that had been held by an Independence Party member.

Law enforcement

NY - Suffolk County Sheriff's Office.png
NYS University Police.jpg

Police services in the five western towns (Babylon, Huntington, Islip, Smithtown and Brookhaven) are provided primarily by the Suffolk County Police Department. The five "East End" towns (Riverhead, Southold, Shelter Island, East Hampton, and Southampton), maintain their own police and other law enforcement agencies. Also, there are a number of villages, such as Amityville, Lloyd Harbor, Northport and Westhampton Beach, that maintain their own police forces. In an unusual move, the Village of Greenport in 1994 voted to abolish its police department and turn responsibility for law and order over to the Southold Town Police Department. After the Long Island State Parkway Police was disbanded in 1980, all state parkways in Suffolk County became the responsibility of Troop L of the New York State Police, headquartered at Republic Airport. State parks, such as Robert Moses State Park, are the responsibility of the New York State Park Police, based at Belmont Lake State Park. In 1996, the Long Island Rail Road Police Department was consolidated into the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police, which has jurisdiction over all rail lines in the county. Since the New York state legislature created the New York State University Police in 1999, they are in charge of all law enforcement services for State University of New York property and campuses. The State University Police have jurisdiction in Suffolk County at Stony Brook University.

Suffolk Police boat on Fire Island

The Suffolk County Sheriff's Office is a separate agency. The sheriff, an elected official who serves a four-year term, operates the two Suffolk County correctional facilities (in Yaphank and Riverhead), provides county courthouse security and detention, service and enforcement of civil papers, evictions and warrants. Since the disbandment of the Suffolk County Police Highway Patrol Unit in 2008, Suffolk County Deputy Sheriffs have assumed responsibility for patrolling and investigating all crimes committed on both the Long Island Expressway (Interstate 495) and Sunrise Highway (State Route 27). The Sheriff's Office is also responsible for securing all county-owned property, such as county government office buildings, as well as the campuses of the Suffolk County Community College. They also provide back-up and assistance to the Suffolk County Park Police. As of 2008, the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office employs 275 Deputy Sheriffs, 850 Correction Officers and about 200 civilian staff.

Suffolk County has a long maritime history with several outer barrier beaches and hundreds of square miles of waterways. The Suffolk Police Marine Bureau patrols the 500 square miles (1,000 km2) of navigable waterways within the police district, from the Connecticut and Rhode Island state line which bisects Long Island Sound - [3], to the New York state line 3 miles (5 km) south of Fire Island in the Atlantic Ocean. Some Suffolk County towns (Islip, Brookhaven, Southampton, East Hampton, Babylon, Huntington, Smithtown) also employ various bay constables and other local marine patrol, which are sworn unarmed peace officers with full arrest powers, providing back up to the Suffolk Police Marine Bureau as well as the United States Coast Guard.

This includes Fire Island and even parts of Jones Island barrier beaches and the islands of the Great South Bay. Marine units also respond to water and ice rescues on the inland lakes, ponds and streams of the District.


Cohalan Court Complex, Central Islip

Suffolk County is part of the 10th Judicial District of the New York State Unified Court System; is home to the Long Island Courthouse of the Federal U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York;[4] and has various local municipal courts. The State Courts are divided into Supreme Court, which has general jurisdiction over all cases, and lower courts that either hear claims of a limited dollar amount, or of a specific nature.[5][6] Similarly, the local courts hear claims of a limited dollar amount, or hear specific types of cases. The Federal Court has jurisdiction over Federal Claims, State Law claims that are joined with Federal claims, and claims where there is a diversity of citizenship.[7]

Supreme Court

Other Superior Courts

Local Courts

The District Court and the Town and Village Courts are the local courts of Suffolk County. There are more than 30 local courts, each with limited criminal and civil subject matter and geographic jurisdictions. The local criminal courts have trial jurisdiction over misdemeanors, violations and infractions; preliminary jurisdiction over felonies; and traffic tickets charging a crime. The local civil courts calendar small claims, evictions, and civil actions.

Most non-criminal moving violation tickets issued in the 5 west towns are handled by the Traffic Violations Bureau, which is part of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, not the court system.


Historical populations

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 1,419,369 people, 469,299 households, and 360,421 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,556 people per square mile (601/km²). There were 522,323 housing units at an average density of 573 per square mile (221/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 84.60% White (78.8% White Non-Hispanic), 6.94% African American, 0.27% Native American, 2.45% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 3.65% from other races, and 2.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.53% of the population.

In 2006 the racial or ethnic makeup of the county was 83.6% White (75.4% White Non-Hispanic). African Americans were 7.4% of the population. Asians stood at 3.4% of the population. 5.4% were of other or mixed race. Latinos were 13.0% of the population.[13] The most common ethnicities in Suffolk County in 2007 were Italian (29.5%), Irish (24.0%), and German (17.6%).[14]

In 2002, the New York Times cited a study by the non-profit group ERASE Racism, which determined that Suffolk and its neighboring county, Nassau, to be the most racially segregated suburbs in the United States.[15]

In 2006 there were 469,299 households, out of which 37.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.00% were married couples living together, 10.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.20% were non-families. 18.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.96 and the average family size was 3.36.

In the county the population was spread out with 26.10% under the age of 18, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 31.20% from 25 to 44, 23.30% from 45 to 64, and 11.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 95.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.80 males.

In 2008, Forbes magazine released its American Community Survey and named Suffolk County number 4 in its list of the top 25 richest counties in America.

The median income for a household in the county was $103,900,[16] and the median income for a family was $72,112. Males had a median income of $50,046 versus $33,281 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,577. About 2.40% of families and 4.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.70% of those under age 18 and 2.30% of those age 65 or over.

Suffolk County ranks at number 21 on the list of the most populous counties in the United States.[17]

Colleges and universities

Suffolk County is home to numerous colleges and universities:



Indian reservations

Two Indian reservations are located within the borders of Suffolk County:

Towns, villages, and hamlets

The Montauk Lighthouse is a landmark of Suffolk County, NY

In New York State, a town is the major subdivision of each county. Towns provide or arrange for most municipal services for residents of hamlets and selected services for residents of villages. All residents of New York who do not live in a city or on an Indian reservation live in a town. A village is an incorporated area which is usually, but not always, within a single town. A village is a clearly defined municipality that provides the services closest to the residents, such as garbage collection, street and highway maintenance, street lighting and building codes. Some villages provide their own police and other optional services. A hamlet is a populated area within a town that is not part of a village. The term "hamlet" is not defined under New York law (unlike cities, towns and villages), but is often used in the state's statutes to refer to well-known populated sections of towns that are not incorporated as villages. For more information, see the article Political subdivisions of New York State.

In 2006 Forbes Magazine ranked six Suffolk County zip codes as among the top 110 most expensive in the United States. Sagaponack, New York was ranked the most expensive zip code in the nation with a median home sale price in 2005 of $2,787,500. Water Mill, New York was ranked the sixth most expensive zip code in the nation, with a median home sale price in 2005 of $2,150,000.[19]

List of towns in Suffolk County

Alphabetical list

Argyle Lake: A main attraction in the town of Babylon.

Gardiners Island

Gardiners Island Suffolk NY

Gardiners Island is an island off eastern Suffolk County in the U.S. state of New York.

The Island is 6 miles (10 km) long, and 3 miles (5 km) wide and has 27 miles (43 km) of coastline.

The same family has owned the Island for nearly 400 years, one of the largest privately owned islands in America or the world.

It is, however, the only American real estate still intact as part of an original royal grant from the English Crown.

Robins Island

Robins Island is an Island in the Peconic Bay between the North and South folks of eastern Suffolk County.

It is within the jurisdiction of Town of Southold in Suffolk County, New York.

The Island is 435 acres (1.8 km2) and presently undeveloped.

The island is privately owned and not accessible to the public.

Suffolk seashore

Fire Island Lighthouse was an important landmark for many trans-atlantic ships coming into New York Harbor in the early 20th century. For many European immigrants, the Fire Island Light was their first sight of land upon arrival in America.

The Fire Island Inlet span of the Robert Moses Causeway connects to Robert Moses State Park on the western tip of Fire Island.

The Great South Bay Bridge, the first causeway bridge, had only one northbound and one southbound lane, was opened to traffic in April 1954. The span of 2 miles (3 km) across Great South Bay to Captree Island features a main span of 600 feet (200 m), with a clearance for boats of 60 feet (20 m).

After crossing the State Boat Channel over Its 665-foot (203 m)-long bascule bridge, the causeway meets the Ocean Parkway at a cloverleaf interchange. This interchange provides access to Captree State Park, Gilgo State Park and Jones Beach State Park.

The Fire Island Inlet Bridge continues the two-lane road, one lane in each direction, across Fire Island Inlet to its terminus at Robert Moses State Park and The Fire Island Lighthouse. Robert Moses Causeway opened in 1964.

Suffolk County has the most lighthouses of any other United States county, with fifteen of its original twenty-six lighthouses still standing. Of these fifteen, eight are located in Southold township alone, giving it more lighthouses than any other township in the United States.

Secessionist movements

The proposed Peconic County flag

At various times, there have been proposals for a division of Suffolk County into two counties. The Western portion would be called Suffolk County, while the Eastern portion of the current Suffolk County would comprise a new county to be called Peconic County.[citation needed] Peconic County would consist of the five easternmost towns of Suffolk County: East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold, plus the Shinnecock Indian Reservation.

The proposed Peconic County flag showed the two forks at the east end of Long Island separated by Peconic Bay. The star on the north represents Southold. The stars on the South Fork represent Southampton and East Hampton. Riverhead is at the fork mouth and Shelter Island is between the forks.

The secessionist movement has not been active since 1998.

The End of the Hamptons: Scenes from the Class Struggle in America's Paradise, by Corey Dolgon (New York University Press, 2005) examined the class roots of the secessionist movement in the Hamptons. In his review, Howard Zinn wrote that the book "[t]akes us beyond the much-romanticized beaches of Long Island to the rich entrepreneurs and their McMansions, the Latino workers, and the stubborn indigenous residents refusing to disappear. The book is important because it is in so many ways a microcosm of the nation." [4] The book won the Association for Humanist Sociology's 2005 Book Prize and the American Sociological Association's Marxist Section Book Award in 2007.

See also



External links

Coordinates: 40°56′N 72°41′W / 40.94°N 72.68°W / 40.94; -72.68