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Long Island, New York
Long Island, New York (Photo by Brian Lundquist on Unsplash)

Long Island, New York

it is long — 190 km to be precise. And it’s quite wide too — up to 37 km across. And populous — heading steadily towards the 8-million mark, though well over half of those live in New York. Two of the city’s five boroughs — Queens and Brooklyn — occupy the western end of the island, but this is a mere geographical fact. They consider themselves part of New York City rather than Long Island and in colloquial use ‘Long Island’ means the suburban communities of Nassau and Suffolk Counties beyond city limits.

Long Island is a very affluent area, with enclaves of real wealth such as the Hamptons and the North Shore’s cliff-top Gold Coast overlooking Long Island Sound, or South Shore communities along now-protected Atlantic beaches and wetlands. But the island’s real prosperity is built on the city workers who commute into New York.  Summer tourism is also important as the island has numerous parks, beaches and great scenery, tending to act as New York’s playground.

The two suburban counties have roughly similar populations, but Nassau County in the centre of the island is the most heavily urbanized. By the time a determined traveller reaches the Twin Forks area in Suffolk County at the eastern extremity there is a more rural feel. It sometimes seems that the whole place is Just a sprawling extension of New York, but there is more to Long Island than that. Actually, the place is something of a metaphor for the American Dream — start with nothing in the mean streets of Brooklyn, move out to an apple-pie suburb and finish up with a Multi-millionaire’s beach-front retreat in the Hamptons. Lots of Fork Long Islanders have made it half way.

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