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East Williston Village

The East Williston Village Office is located at 2 Prospect Street, East Williston NY 11596; phone: 516-746-0782.

Beginnings [1]

The early settlement of East Williston was called the North Side as a result of its location on the north side of the broad Hempstead Plains. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Hempstead Plains were considered some of Nassau County's choicest livestock grazing lands. As a result, East Williston and central Nassau County remained relatively isolated, sparsely populated, and underdeveloped up until the mid-nineteenth century, when the railroad linked the area with metropolitan New York City.

Henry Willis was one of the first to settle in the East Williston area, having bought land there in 1675. This purchase marked the beginning of the Willis' family extensive settlement of central Nassau County. The Willis family prospered, and, through marriage, became related to other prominent Long Island families. The Willis family descendants tended to remain close to their birthplaces so that by the mid-nineteenth century there were numerous Willis families living in the East Williston area.

The early settlement of North Side was called Williston by the mid-nineteenth century, after the locally-prominent Willis family. The area's name was changed to East Williston in 1879 and comprised an area of almost four square miles. In 1926, a portion of this community was incorporated as the Village of East Williston, which presently comprises an area of less than one square mile. The village's most active period of historic development was during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The completion of the Long Island railroad from Mineola to Glen Cove in 1865, which connected East Williston with other Nassau County communities and with New York City, played an important role in the growth of the village.

The railroad spurred East Williston's late nineteenth century industrial, commercial, and residential development. The railroad stimulated the industrial growth of the East Williston area by providing an easy means of bringing in raw materials and shipping finished products. Various industries developed along the railroad line during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries including a brick yard, a windmill and carriage factory, an agricultural supply business, a fertilizer plant, and a coal yard. The area also supported a commercial dairy farm, a prosperous horse farm, and two hotels. As a result of this expanding industrial and economic base, East Williston's population increased, the business district around the railroad station grew, and the residential neighborhood along East Williston Avenue quickly developed. The railroad station and the two commercial structures across the street are the only extant remains of East Williston's rapid late nineteenth century industrial growth.

  1. O'Brien, Austin O., East Williston Village Historic District, 1985,nomination document, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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