Homes for Sale in Old Bethpage

The hills surrounding Old Bethpage mark the far eastern edge of the vast Hempstead Plains. Despite the nearby forest, Indians used this land sparingly, because it had no nearby streams. Indeed, after Englishman Thomas Powell named his purchase from the Marsapeque Indians after Bethpage, a place described in the Bible’s gospel of Matthew between Jericho and Jerusalem. Powell dropped on of the h’s (see Bethpage for more detail), but his purchase was between Long Island’s Jericho and Jerusalem, now known as Wantagh. Powell’s 14 children split up his purchase and it evolved into several farming communities. Old Bethpage, then known as Bethpage, was one of the smaller, quieter ones. It wasn’t until the 1870s, after Alexander T. Stewart purchased the plains, that industry came to Bethpage in the form of a large brickworks located on the road to Farmingdale. The works supplied bricks for Stewart’s Garden City and beyond until it closed in 1981.

Turning Point:
Bethpage, still a tiny farming community, became Old Bethpage against its will in 1936, when the adjacent — and larger — community of Central Park decided that it would call itself Bethpage. The 1940s saw a potato blight would wipe out most of the crops. That and the post-World War II housing shortage transformed Old Bethpage from farmland to suburb. By 1966, its population had ballooned from a few dozen in 1936 to about 5,000 people.

Claim to Fame:
Old Bethpage Restoration is a recreation of a 19th Century Long Island community, and some of the buildings were built by members of the Powell family. It opened in 1970.

Where to Find More:
“Our Town: Life in Plainview-Old Bethpage 1600 Through Tomorrow,” by Richard Koubek, published in 1987, available at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library.


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