Suffolk County, New York

Thursday, April 29, 2010 - 11:13 AM

Listen to the Segment here!

Your Anecdotal Census: A People's History of the New York City Area 2000-2010

Tell us about change that matters in your community. Here are some possible questions to answer. Add your story to the comments below!

How is your community different today than it was 10 years ago?

Who's moving in and who's moving out? 

How has the housing boom/housing bust changed your community?

How have the politics of your community changed? If power has shifted in your community, how and why?

How has 9/11 changed your community? 

Do you have a story about change in your own life over the last decade that you think represents a larger trend?

What's an untold story of change in your community that needs to be told? 

Dante's Take

As part of the Patchwork Nation project, Dante Chinni has been exploring demographic trends around the country. He tells us what to watch for in Suffolk and Nassau Counties...

→ Visit the Suffolk County page on Patchwork Nation for lots more!

By The Numbers:

What story do you think this data tells? Do you think the data reflects what's really going on in your community?

Suffolk County, New York 1980 1990 2000 2008/2009
Total Population 1,284,231 1,321,864 1,419,372 1,518,475
Median Household Income (2008 adjusted dollars) $66,500 $85,300 $84,400 $85,091
% Foreign Born 7.4% 7.9% 11.0% 14.1%
% Under 18 Years Old 31.6% 24.7% 26.1% 24.2%


Explore the Maps:

Suffolk County, New York - Median Household Income (2007) - Go to the Interactive Maps at Social Explorer

More Resources:

US Census Bureau QuickFacts

Social Explorer

More in:

Comments [9]

Rebecka Russo from Brightwaters

One thing that hasn't changed is the metropolitan media's and business' lumping both Suffolk and Nassau Counties together in some amorphous entity "the Island". Suffolk County alone has more people (1.5mil) than any other county in NY except Kings, Queens and New York (basically the city excepting Staten Island). (PS - we also are the largest county outside of NYC proper).

Unfortunately, services - retail, gov't, transportation, recreational are not reflective of the population. The local gov'ts / school boards are run as if they're dealing with a population that they had back in the 50s,- lots of nepotism, waste, fraud and inefficiencies. There is no local media - you can kind of think of it as a media black out zone (unless you consider the Pennysaver a great source of local news) so there is really no way to effectively know what is happening in your local area which makes the problems almost impossible to get a handle on.

I grew up in the town I know live (Brightwaters) and have seen tremendous growth in the middle (LIE) and east end of Suffolk (our family owns a business out east) and completely agree with Jessica from Montauk -the east end is unrecongnizable to anyone who knew the area 20 years ago. God help us if we have to evacuate the Island - we have no more access on or off than we did 45 years ago - although our population has increased 7 fold and population density has tripled.

I also lived in Bellevue WA - a suburb of Seattle. One of the biggest differences is that Seattle and its various suburbs don't have an elephant in the media marketplace - nationally owned and controlled stations, cable and newspaper.

They say all politics is local - but unfortunately even with the advent of the internet - information about your locality in Suffolk County is very hard to come by and the results - high taxes and low services - are easy to see.

May. 26 2010 08:24 PM
Bill Wilkes from Centerport

I just had an interesting experience. My son was expecting a delivery and couldn't be home to accept it. I agreed to be at his house for the delivery. I received a telephone call from a fellow speaking with an Hispanic accent. I could barely understand him. After a few repeats I realized he was calling about the delivery and I agreed on a time to meet him. Within the agreed time, a huge truck came down the street, a very steep street. On the truck were the driver and his helper. Both were Hispanic. I told them I needed the item put at the top of my son's very steep driveway. They tried backing up the truck but had inteference with the ground. I found out the package weighed over 1,000 pounds. They had to offload it into the street and offered to try and roll it up the driveway. Around that time, another truck came down the street and could not get through. It also had an Hispanic driver and Hispanic helper. These two fellows got out, saw what we were trying to do and came to help. The five of us managed to get the package to the top of the driveway.

A simple story, but quite telling. I observe that most of the lawn care people, delivery people and restaurant staff are Hispanic. I have no idea what their legal status might be. They work hard.

The people I know who are out of work are former executives, bankers, insurance people, etc. Mostly white collar people. The Hispanics are not taking jobs from them.

I read about unemployed people, mostly clerical or office workers. I understand that there is unemployment among the unionized skilled trades such as Electricians, Steamfitters, etc. I wonder how many of our citizens are actually displaced by immigrant workers. I don't really know, but I suspect not many.

We do have a large number of illegal immigrants and I assume a number of them are working as laborers of one sort or another. I don't know if they are displacing legal immigrants or citizens.

I believe that we need major immigration reform that would include provisions for non-criminal illegal immigrants to become legal, maybe through application and paying a fine of 5 or 10 thousand dollars payable over time.

All should be encouraged to learn English and become citizens.

May. 19 2010 01:14 PM
Kay from West Islip from West Islip, southwestern Suffolk County

My husband and I moved out of Manhattan 18 years ago when we decided to start a family. We live in a community that includes both multimillion dollar waterfront homes, as well as tiny bungalows with barely enough room to house a small family. In the past decade, property values first soared, raising the prices, and taxes, of even the smallest properties, while the waterfront homes tripled in price. The owners of the those waterfront homes took out second mortgages, and doubled or tripled their size! I mean, these places are HUGE! Backyards and side yards are the legal minimums - with these gigantic houses shouldering each other along the coastline. Some look like hotels, or brick mansions that would be more at home on the English moors! Even their entryways are colossal - two or three stories tall - it looks like giants live here! And the traffic has gotten hideous - there are several times a day when Montauk Highway - the only thru road right on the South Shore - grinds to a halt with bumper to bumper traffic - it can take 15 minutes to make a 2 minute trip. Meanwhile, school taxes are high, with homeowners paying 90% of the bill, since the town discouraged commerical development and there is almost no industry to help foot the bill. So even though property taxes are high, the amount spent per student is among the lowest on all of Long Island - only 4 districts spend less on their students then we do. There is also a very parochial attitude - the vast majority of people who live here, grew up here, and with the exception of visits to Florida or a resort, they have little interest in the rest of the world, and treat the city as if it were a foreign country.

All in all, it's a much less attractive place to live then it was a decade ago - too much traffic, too much ostentatious consumerism, and too close-minded.

May. 18 2010 12:00 PM
Carolyn from Brightwaters

I grew up in Brightwaters in the 60's, moved to NYC and, with my husband (from Queens) bought my grandmother's home in 1979 during a previous housing bubble burst. It is very common for kids to move back to this area. The beaches and water and lifestyle are big draws. In March, my 25 year old son left NYC and bought a home in Bay Shore. It was a short sale. He has a roommate and pays less than he did in the City. If it weren't for the housing bust, he would not be back. However, he could not get a mortgage. So as my parents did for us, we are holding his mortgage. We paid off our 30 year mortgage in 14 years and we hope he will do the same.

On another note, I just went and voted "yes" on Bay Shore's budget. Even though we pay over $50,000 (this includes my husband's office building taxes) in real estate taxes, I think it's unseemly to vote down the budget as soon as the kids graduate. They got a terrific education in the public schools and the district's reputation is definitely relevant to housing prices.

May. 18 2010 11:39 AM
Don from Smithtown Township

My wife and I are both young professionals, and we've lived in Fairfax, VA and Allentown, PA before moving back home to Long Island.

Between us, we have three bachelors degrees. We were barely able to afford a very modest home in the neighborhood where my wife grew up. It's sad that Long Islanders can barely afford to live in the neighborhoods they grew up in without "living with Mom and Dad", and I'm worried that housing prices will become intractably high and we will be forced to move away if we are ever able to retire.

Even in Fairfax, we could have gotten much more for our money that we do here in terms of amenities - we were much closer to D.C. than we are now to Manhattan - in Allentown, we could have lived like royalty.

May. 18 2010 10:09 AM
Jessica from Montauk

I grew up in Montauk, the daughter of a fisherman, and even through I now live on the other end of the island (in Brooklyn); I visit my family at least every other week. When my parents moved to Montauk, now about thirty odd years ago, everything closed down in the winter and I’m told that sometimes you would see deer in the middle of town. By the time I was born, not quite thirty years ago, things were not quite so desolate in the winter—though even today there are some stores that will close for a month or more in the winter (not as many as there used to be). Throughout my life, things have slowly gotten busier and fancier. In some ways, this has been a good thing. The quality of the IGA, our local grocery store, has greatly improved. At the same time, more and more businesses are opening that seem almost exclusively aimed at tourist (East Hampton is much worse—there are almost no shops left for locals but somehow they now have a Saks Fifth Avenue!). There has been a huge sift in population. My parent’s generation could afford to buy houses, but it is nearly impossible for my generation. A lot of people in my parent’s church (which covers the whole South Fork) have sold their smaller house and moved to places like Pennsylvania where that money buys them a much bigger house with some left over. The locals that remain are the ones who have been successful owing their own businesses, etc. A lot of jobs have been filled by immigrants or from people “up island”. When I went to school there was a very small Hispanic population which was almost exclusively whole families and generally middle class. Now the population is much larger and seems to be less integrated. About eleven or so years ago I was shocked to find that Southampton had a rush hour as people from up island drove into the South Fork in the morning and out in the evening. You could see a small back up on 27 where the highway turns into a local road—at the time no bigger than a quarter of a mile. Now that pile up is regularly a mile or more, even though they have opened another lane heading into Southampton! All in all, increasing tourism has been a mixed blessing. Things have gotten nicer and those who have been successful are definitely comfortably middle class (even by Hamptons’ standards). At the same time, things have become more rigid and regulated and we are slowly losing our somewhat rural, almost New England-style fishing village culture. East Hampton has become more like Southampton and Montauk is becoming more Hamptonized and I can only pray that the housing bubble keeps bursting, because I still can’t imagine a day when I could buy a house out there.

May. 17 2010 11:34 AM
denise from east hampton, ny


East Hampton Town Planning Board held a meeting this evening to "allow the public" a voice on the proposed variance to place cell poles or towers in various pristine areas of east hampton. One area being the Girl Scout Camp on three mile harbor road. Another near Ashawagh Hall. I am writing to let you know and hope you will use your influence to put into print a rally against this happening. People can write into the town board until May 26th to protest the erection of this tower on the Girl Scout Camp Grounds. I have seen these poles go up in various areas around nassau county and let me tell you it is not a pretty site.

We all live and visit "the hamptons" to get away from the fast pace that technology has created. Work life is 24/7 now. Gone are the days when shops would close down on Sundays to give everyone a day of rest. We live and visit here to see the beautiful light, the lovely skies, and the sparkling water. Is there really a reason we need to have our cell phone on even while we sleep. Do we need that instant gratification of being able to read emails from a blackberry or to be able to facebook while sitting on the beach to tell someone that "I am sitting on the beach". There is such a thing as "too much information". Too much technology. The saying "Sit back and smell the roses" applies very much here.I have been a part of this area for 20 plus years and have seen some bad things happening to the beautiful open spaces. This situation needs to be halted. The existence of many shopkeepers, farmers, towns etc. have purely existed because of tourism. If you deplete the beauty - they will not come. A cell phone that does not work is not a deterent for someone to visit and enjoy this place. Most of the time they come in pursuit of leaving all that they know behind and relish in the wonder of simplicity of the space we call "out east".

I am not against the progression of technology. I am an computer technologist that has worked in the field for over 15 plus years. I am also a scientist and have worked in the field of microbiology for 20 plus years. I am no fool. Verizon claims these towers are safe. I do not want to be a guinea pig for this company. Here is an article for you to look at about unsafe cell towers.

Please check this link for an article on the harm a cell tower can produce.

Remember: Cigarettes don't cause cancer, and radiation is good for you...

Please investigate these proceedings for erecting cell towers and let the public know before they are erected so that they may have the ability or the chance to at least fight this. Please forward to anyone you think might be able to stop this.

The town meeting:

Thank you,
Denise DiGiovanna
East Hampton, NY

May. 14 2010 09:52 PM
Katie Kennedy from Huntington, NY

When we moved into Huntington village in 1981, the village shops were all "Mom & Pop" stores; Main Street started to decline, with many shops closing, but then the name brand stores--Chico's, Aerosoles, The Gap, etc.--came in and the village thrived again. I noticed recently that empty storefronts are appearing once again.

May. 06 2010 11:53 AM
Laurie D. from Huntington

First I got a bachelors in English and couldn't find a job; then I got a masters in Social Work with the same result. Now I am applying to nursing school at a SUNY campus where 90% of nursing applicants are rejected due to lack of funding for the program. My experience with Suffolk equals too many SUV's driven by soccer Moms who like to form tight circles at the bus stop to exclude anyone whom they deem unworthy. I am in-shape, educated, regular old person, and I was rejected by this community. We are moving to Baltimore this summer and never looking back. I am 37, married, one kid.

May. 04 2010 03:45 PM

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