It's 1835 - How Do You Get to Glen Cove?

The year is 1835 and Andrew Jackson is in the White House. Long Island, right across the East River from New York City, is only accessible by boat. The first bridge to link the islands of Manhattan and Long Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, will be a technological marvel but it is still almost 50 years in the future (1883).

In 1835, Long Island was characterized by woodlands, meadows and farms. Musquito Cove, the village that is today called Glen Cove, was a farming community on the north shore of Long Island, founded more than 100 years before the American colonies declared themselves to be the United States. Travel along the Island's few roads was on foot, horseback or horse-drawn carriage. Vessels moved both people and freight along the water highway that is Long Island Sound. By the early 1800s, in addition to farming, the village of Musquito Cove on the eastern shore of Hempstead Harbor was producing lumber from its sawmill and mining clay along its shores, for export to New York City. These clay deposits can be seen today from the beach on the Garvies Point Preserve, exposed in the embankment in several places.

Though water transport was dominated by sailing vessels in 1835, the commercial steamboat was becoming a familiar sight on rivers and bays, having evolved from Robert Fulton's 1807 design for the first practical steamboat, CLERMONT. When prominent Musquito Cove resident Dr. Thomas Garvie had a pier constructed from his property on Hempstead Harbor, he began negotiations with Cornelius Vanderbilt to bring steamboats to the harbor in order to ship clay to New York City. In 1829 the arrival of the steamer LINNAEUS initiated regular steamboat service between New York City and Musquito Cove.

1829 also saw local entrepreneur William Weeks and other businessmen form a company to build and operate a steamboat wharf further north of the Garvie wharf, which became known as "The Landing" (located near where the breakwater meets the beach in today's Morgan Park). This wharf soon became Musquito Cove's primary destination for passengers and freight. Passenger service to and from Manhattan greatly expanded throughout the years preceding the Civil War. Other steamboat landings were established at Sea Cliff, Glenwood, and Roslyn, and New York City residents took excursions to rural Long Island to escape the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.

It is 1835 - the principle means of transportation to Glen Cove is the steamboat. To facilitate this traffic the residents of Musquito Cove only last year voted to change the name of the village to Glen Cove to end the perception that swarms of biting insects would welcome visitors from New York City. The Long Island Railroad was formed just last year as well (1834), but tracks for the Oyster Bay Branch of the line won't reach Glen Cove until 1867.

William Mudge Weeks

The shores of Hempstead Harbor are so popular with New Yorkers that this year, 1835, William Weeks opened the Pavilion Hotel adjacent to the steamboat wharf to provide lodging for these many visitors. It eventually will become a resort hotel accommodating up to 300 guests. At 50 cents for a round trip ticket, who could wonder that New York City residents fill the steamers to journey to Long Island. Other hotels, inns and boarding houses would spring up just blocks away from the Pavilion Hotel, and the entire area will one day be known as "The Landing" because of the steamboat landing's influence on the economic life of Glen Cove. The commercial center of Glen Cove, its "downtown", is over a mile and a quarter away from the steamboat wharf, reachable on foot or by carriage, by traveling along Main Street (today's Landing Road).

The Long Island Sound Steamer GLEN COVE

Photo courtesy Glen Cove Public Library
Robert R. Coles History Room

The community of Glen Cove will grow significantly in the latter half of the 19th century as a result of regular Long Island Sound steamboat service. The Creek will become a hub of manufacturing in 1855 when the Duryea Starch Works (the world's largest cornstarch manufacturing plant) is established here. The passenger steamers will grow larger and become more numerous until after the Civil War, when the arrival of the Long Island Railroad to Glen Cove in 1867 provides a second reliable method of travel. Several major steamboat disasters around the end of the 19th century and the opening of the East River railroad tunnels in 1905 will ultimately make the railroad supreme and lead to the eventual demise of the great Long Island Sound steamboats.

Fast forward to 1932 - 103 years after the steamboat wharf was constructed, Morgan Memorial Park will open to the public, encompassing the former sites of the steamer landing and the Pavilion Hotel. Dedicated to the memory of Jane Norton Grew Morgan, the wife of banker J.P. Morgan, Jr., the park also memorializes the century of the steamboats that grew Glen Cove.

~ GC350 History Committee