The Glen Cove Landing - A historical perspective

 

Clay Mining

Glen Cove History

Steamer Seawanhaka

Landing Historical
Sites

 

…By the late 1850's steamboat operation between New York and Glen Cove was in full swing. Glen Cove became a resort community. By the time of the Civil War there were half a dozen major hotels in Glen Cove, most centered near the steamboat landing (which was at the foot of Landing Road, within present day Morgan's Park). The largest of these was the Pavilion Hotel, which was used as a convalescent home during the Civil War for wounded soldiers. In addition to the hotels themselves, a number of "oyster saloons," taverns, and boarding houses opened in the Landing. The community catered to wealthy New York City residents who were beginning to build summer estate homes…

-- "The History of Glen Cove"
 
The Landing's Steamboats

In 1827, Dr. Thomas Garvie opened negotiations with Cornelius Vanderbilt to begin operating a steamboat between Glen Cove and New York City on a regular basis. In 1829 a daily steamboat run was made between Glen Cove and New York City. But many New York residents were reluctant to visit the town because they didn't realize that there was a difference between "mus-kee-tah" (this place of rushes) and "mosquito" (a rather pesky insect). A public meeting was held in 1834 to discuss the matter. Several possible names were suggested as alternatives. Local legend has always claimed that someone had suggested "Glen Coe," after a rather pretty spot in Scotland, which was misheard as "Glen Cove." The residents agreed to change the name to Glen Cove.

James Bard's Painting of the Steamer GLEN COVE

 

By the late 1850's steamboat operation between New York and Glen Cove was in full swing. Glen Cove became a resort community. By the time of the Civil War there were half a dozen major hotels in Glen Cove, most centered near the steamboat landing (which was at the foot of Landing Road, within present day Morgan's Park). The largest of these was the Pavilion Hotel, which was used as a convalescent home during the Civil War for wounded soldiers. In addition to the hotels themselves, a number of "oyster saloons," taverns, and boarding houses opened in the Landing. The community catered to wealthy New York City residents who were beginning to build summer estate homes.

Glen Cove Steamboat Landing in
what is now Morgan Memorial Park

The Industrial Revolution did not reach Glen Cove until the 1850's around the same time the Duryea Corn Starch Manufacturing Company relocated their main plant from Oswego to Glen Cove. The Duryea Starch Works sprawled over more than an acre and employed nearly 600 people. Employees lived in company-owned apartments, bought their food and clothes from the company store, and read the Glen Cove Gazette, which was printed at least part of its life on a press owned by the starch company. The Starch Works was not well loved by those Glen Cove residents who had no financial interest in it. The volumes of waste produced by converting corn into corn starch was flushed into Glen Cove Creek, where it settled to form a layer of putrefying, obnoxious-smelling organic detritus. The smell, pervasive in both the Glen Cove Landing and Sea Cliff, depending upon the wind, was irritating to resident and visitor alike.

Early Landing Map Showing the Steamboat Landing

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The Landing Area's Clay Industry

The second major "industry," in Glen Cove, following the mills of the 17th and 18th century, was the mining of clay. About 1810, a local physician named Thomas Garvie, a native of Scotland, discovered that the large deposits of clay on his property (now called "Garvie's Point") were of sufficient quality for use in manufacturing pottery. Within a short time clay was being dug, and marketed in New York City, with some finding its way to the potteries of Huntington and Greenport. The discovery of clay furthered the use of the waterfront for both commercial shipping and commuter transportation.

 

1873 Map of The Landing
from a Map of Glen Cove published in the Beers 1873 Atlas of Long Island

(submitted by Richard J. Reynolds)

Click here to view historical sites in today's Landing


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The Landing was an Integral Part of Glen Cove's History
and Early Development

The History of Glen Cove, NY
Text and Research by Jeanne Henderson

On May 24, 1668, Joseph Carpenter, a settler from Warwick, Rhode Island, purchased one hundred acres of woodland northwest of Oyster Bay from the Matinecock Indians. Inspired by the abundance of fresh streams, ponds, and navigable water in the harbor, Carpenter built his saw mill at the foot of Mill Hill Road near the present-day Glen Cove Fire Department and erected a dam after taking on brothers Robert, Nathaniel, and Daniel Coles and Nicholas Simpkins as partners in this business venture. After these "Five Proprietors of the Musketa Cove Plantations" built homes on the hill overlooking the stream along a section known today as The Place, they divided the remaining acreage of woodland and pastures into five equal parcels.

Later a grist mill for grinding corn was added "for all the Proprietors families without charge so long as the said stream was owned by all of them." Musketa Cove-the Indian name meant "place of rushes"-began to flourish in the next decade as ships navigated the creek at low tide, and it was reported in an early journal that "fifteen hundred foote of plank of two inch thick was prepared and shipped to New Cork (from Musketa Cove in 1678) for use in the construction of Fort James, at the lower end of Manhattan."

The population of the tiny settlement began to swell as New Englanders came south, and in less than a decade after its first settlement the community of Musketa Cove had among its population weavers, tailors, sawyers, carpenters, millers, millwrights, shipbuilders, and many tradesmen who had their own town government, constable, overseers, Justice of the Peace and Recorder.

By 1699 a second dam was built further upstream on what is now Pulaski Street. Besides lumber and flour, smuggling was apparently the third industry, for in 1699 one-third of all goods imported into New York was contraband brought in through Setauket, Southhold, Oyster Bay, and Musketa Cove---rum being the chief item of trade. Favored by clear springs, good farming soil, and a harbor, Musketa Cove grew through trade with boats used to carry goods to the city. In 1725 the first place of worship, the Matinecock Friends Meeting House, was erected near the present day site of Friends Academy. However, through the next few decades the increasing diffiiculties with Britain concerned others of a less pacifist nature, and by the outbreak of the Revolutionary War "a company of 80 men from Musketa Cove joined General Woodhull's brigade" to fight the British. The population of Musketa Cove in the decade following the Revolutionary War was 250 with names like "Valentine, Pearsall, Craft, and Downing" among the well-known in the area.

During the early years of the nineteenth century Musketa Cove attracted visitors from New York City because of the natural beauty of the shoreline and the peaceful, rustic setting. In 1829 the first scheduled steamboat, the Linnaeus, commanded by Captain Elijah Peck, made weekly stops. However, many could not be encouraged to visit claiming that to have earned such a name Musketa Cove must be grossly inhabitedby obnoxious stinging insects. In 1834 during a public meeting the name "Glen Cove" was chosen---after a member of the audience misunderstood the suggestion to name the peaceful community Glencoe, the name of a Scottish glen.

Again, the same factors that brought the original settlers attracted newcomers in the nineteenth century---and made Glen Cove a popular summer resort. In 1835 the Pavilion Hotel was built near the entrance to the Harbor where it was convenient to the steamboat landing. Visitors paid $.50 for round-trip fare and New York's famous theatrical celebrities, like Lillian Russel, made Glen Cove a favorite summer resort.

In 1855 the Duryea Starch Works, located on the site of one of the original mills, continued to use water as a source of power and the Fayerweather & Ladew tannery, located on the current site of Konica Imaging USA on Charles Street, supplied belts tha t turned the machines. Nearby farms supplied the corn, and as before, the finished product---this time cornstarch instead of lumber and flour was delivered quickly and cheaply by boat to New York markets.

By 1868 the Long Island Railroad had reached Glen Cove and such prominent American millionaires as J. P. Morgan (East Island), Charles A. Dana (West Island), F. W. Woolworth, H. C. Folger, and the Pratts, who alone erected five mansions on over one tho usand acres, developed Gold Coast estates on acres of pastoral grounds and along pristine beaches.

As industry declined, the estates soon functioned as self-contained entities, providing jobs and sources of income for hundreds of residents.

In 1904 a trolley was built to take riders from the train to the Landing, but by 1915 the trolley was out of service with the coming of the auto. By 1917 Glen Cove became a city, leaving the Town of Oyster Bay, and the first mayor, James E. Burns, with his council took the oath of office on January 1, 1918, just a few weeks short of the 250th anniversary of the first settlement.

Click here to visit the Landing Cemetery

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Steamboats!

The steamboat Seawanhaka, is the subject of the other painting illustrated here, recently acquired by the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. Built in 1866 for the Long Island North Shore Freight and Transportation Company, the Seawanhaka was considered a first, light-height commuter steamer. She would leave Pecks Slip in the East River daily at 3:15 P.M. and return the next morning from Roslyn, Long Island, making stops at Glen Wood, Mott's Dock, Glen Cove, Sands Point, Great Neck, Baylis' Dock, and Whitestone. In the background of Bard's painting is the vessel the Seawanhaka replaced on this run, the T.V. Arrowsmith, which subsequently became an excursion boat on the Potomac River.
The Seawanhaka was lost on June 28, 1880, when a furnace backdraft sent coals flying into the engine room, setting it afire. All but forty of the three hundred passengers were saved thanks to the heroic efforts of the captain, Charles P. Smith (1826-1881), who stayed at the wheel and ran the boat aground on the flats off Ward's Island. Among the survivors were William Russell Grace, soon to become the mayor of New York City; the newspaper editor Charles A. Dana; and the publisher John Harper. The captain himself never fully recovered from injuries sustained in the fire and died a year later. His memorial service, presided over by Grace, is said to have been attended by three thousand mourners.

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