Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Wright Brothers on Long Island

The Wright brothers at the International Aviation Tournament, Belmont Park, Long Island, N.Y., Oct. 1910. The tournament was an 8 day long competition where enthusiasts competed for altitude, speed, distance, longest duration in the air and various other feats. There was the Statue of Liberty flight which was a $10,000 prize donated by Thomas F. Ryan to the contestant who flew the fastest from Belmont Park around the Statue of Liberty and back. A total of $60,000 in prize money was awarded during the tournament.


Anonymous said...

This is in response to an earlier post regarding Les Bois and Wheatley Gardens. I remember Wheatley Gardens very well. There were fantastic greenhouses and several talking birds. Replaced by Wheatley Plaza, which I thought was terribly ugly at the time but which now is by far the nicest building in that area. I was very sad to see Umberto Innocenti's lovely place, down the road, recently bulldozed into oblivion, including his wonderful gardens and ornaments as well as some magnificent trees.


Ray Spinzia said...

The aviation industry was a major factor in the demise of the estate areas in the villages of Hempstead, Uniondale, East Meadow, and in the Hamlet of Salisbury. It also precipitated the relocation of the Meadow Brook Club to the North Shore.

The early airfields, including that of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, were eventually incorporated into the military facility of Mitchel Field and the civilian airfield of Roosevelt Field. By the mid-1930s Roosevelt Field had become the country's largest and busiest private airport.

Mitchel Field was created in 1918 with the merger of Aviation Field #2 and the army post Camp Mills. Mitchel Field was responsible for the defense of the New York metropolitan area and a center for aviation experimentation. By 1945 Mitchel Field had become the headquarters of the Air Defense Command for the entire United States.

The former property of the Meadow Brook Club became a runway for military jets based at Mitchel Field.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know there were any estates over this way. The only ones I ever heard of were the Hofstra house, now part of Hofstra University, Belmonts house in Hempstead and a mansion in Baldwin, the last two demolished I think in either the 20's or 30's.

Ray Spinzia said...

The estates in the Mitchel Field and Roosevelt Field area have been virtually forgotten. While it would be impossible to list them all in the space provided, here are a few.

The Netherlands, the Hofstra mansion, which is located in front of Hofstra University's Axinn Library still exists.

Across the street from Hofstra, at the northern intersection of California and Fulton Avenues, was The Crossways, a forty-eight-room mansion built by Sidney Dillon Ripley, Sr.

The deranged French sugar heir Jacques Lebaudy's estate Phoenix Lodge was located on Valentine's Road in Salisbury.

On Salisbury Park Drive in Salisbury was Half Way Nirvana, the estate of Elliott Roosevelt, Sr., the brother of President Theodore Roosevelt. Elliott's daughter Anna Eleanor (she dropped the Anna) married President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

John Kellum, the original architect of Alexander Turney Stewart's Garden City, had an estate on Fulton Avenue in Hempstead.

Also in Hempstead was Three Oaks, the Greenwich Street estate of Henry Van Rensselaer Kennedy.

Blemton Manor, the estate of August Belmont II was located on Fulton Avenue in Hempstead. His brother Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont's estate Brookholt was also located on Fulton Avenue but further east in what is now the Village of East Meadow.

James Clinch Smith, of the Smithtown Smith family and an heir to the A. T. Stewart department store fortune, had an estate on Merrick Avenue in East Meadow before he went down with the Titanic.

Anonymous said...

The Measdowbrook parkway caused the moving of the Meadowbrook Club.Not aviation..thats why it's called Meadowbrook parkway, it's named after the club.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ray!! That's amazing,how did you know all that?! You'd never guess passing through Hempstead, East Meadow or by Roosevelt Field that they were once homes to what I'd like to think must have been glorious estates....not even an inkling. There must be some documentation or photos somewhere.....

Can I ask,where was Salisbury? Was that once just west of the Country Glen Shopping Center (Barnes and Noble)on Old Country Road, that now houses small tudor homes?

Zach said...

Salisbury is here:


Anonymous said...

Thankyou Zach.

Ray Spinzia said...

In response to the moving of the Meadow Brook Club - Would that Long Island history was so easily explained . . .

A thesis presented in 1892 for the degree of BS in Agriculture to Cornell University by Henry Hicks, "The Flora of the Hempstead Plains, Long Island," states that the streams which fed the Hempstead Plains at that date included Jackson's Creek at Jerusalem, Meadow Brook, and Hempstead Creek. Portions of the Meadow Brook (Creek) were historically designated Meadow Brook Bog and Meadow Brook Swamp. See Henry Hicks (with a Foreword by Judith A. Spinzia and Afterword by Natalie A. Naylor), "The Hempstead Plains and its Flora, 1891." Nassau County Historical Society Journal, vol. 58 (2003), pp. 30-40. It is most probable that both the parkway and the club were named for Meadow Brook, the creek.

Meadowbrook State Parkway was opened to traffic in 1934. See J. Lance Mallamo, "Building the Roads to Greatness: Robert Moses and Long Island's State Parkways" in Joann P. Krieg, "Robert Moses Single-Minded Genius" (Interlaken, NY: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1989), p. 161. Mallamo was the Suffolk County Historian and former Director of Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarian. The book was published by the Long Island Studies Institute of Hofstra University.

The Meadow Brook Club was purchased by the federal government in 1945 for a runway. See Edward J. Smits, "Nassau Suburbia, U.S.A." (Garden City, NY: Friends of the Nassau County Museum, Syosset, New York), p. 103. I would think members of the Meadow Brook Club would have been more unnerved by the constant roar of airplane engines on the adjacent property than traffic noise from the Meadowbrook Parkway.

Salisbury is north of Eisenhower Park and south of New Cassel.