An Appetizer dive into New Suffolk's History on the North Fork of New York




Nestled on the picturesque North Fork of Long Island, New Suffolk, New York, is a charming hamlet with a rich history that dates back to the 17th century. This small town, known for its scenic beauty and maritime heritage, has seen a remarkable transformation over the centuries. In this blog post, we will delve into the history of New Suffolk, with a particular focus on its maritime heritage and the Torpedo Boat Company that once thrived in the area.

Early Settlement and Founding

New Suffolk's history is tightly intertwined with the broader history of Long Island and its colonization by the English. The area was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples, including the Algonquin-speaking Shinnecock tribe. European settlers, primarily from England and the Netherlands, began arriving in the 17th century.

In 1640, a group of English settlers, led by John Youngs, established the first English settlement on the North Fork. This marked the foundation of what would eventually become New Suffolk. Youngs and his fellow settlers purchased land from the Shinnecock Indians, and this transaction is documented as one of the first land deeds in American history.

Agriculture and Shipbuilding

During its early years, New Suffolk relied heavily on agriculture, as did much of Long Island. The fertile soil of the North Fork was well-suited for farming, and the town's economy was driven by crops such as corn, potatoes, and, of course, grapes, which would eventually play a crucial role in the region's viticulture.

Shipbuilding also became a significant industry in the area during the 19th century. The shipyards of New Suffolk constructed vessels for various purposes, including fishing, trade, and whaling. The maritime industry was a lifeline for the local economy, providing employment opportunities and contributing to the growth of the town.

The Torpedo Boat Company

One of the most intriguing aspects of New Suffolk's history is the Torpedo Boat Company that once operated in the area. The New Suffolk Shipyard, which had a long tradition of shipbuilding, played a pivotal role in this endeavor. During World War I, the United States government was in dire need of naval vessels, particularly torpedo boats.

The New Suffolk Shipyard, with its skilled workforce and strategic location, was ideally positioned to meet this demand. The shipyard transitioned from civilian shipbuilding to the production of torpedo boats for the U.S. Navy. These boats, known for their speed and precision, were crucial assets during the war. The success of the Torpedo Boat Company during this period significantly boosted New Suffolk's economy.

Post-War Development and Preservation

Following World War I, New Suffolk experienced a decline in its maritime industries. As the world entered a more peaceful era, the demand for military vessels waned. The shipyards shifted focus once again, this time towards recreational boats and fishing vessels. The charm of the area's coastal setting attracted summer visitors and tourists, leading to the development of a small but thriving tourism industry.

In more recent years, New Suffolk has worked hard to preserve its historic charm. The town has limited commercial development, ensuring that its historic character remains intact. The New Suffolk Waterfront Fund, established in the 1990s, has been instrumental in the restoration of the waterfront area, preserving the town's maritime heritage for future generations.


The history of New Suffolk, New York, is a fascinating journey through time, from its humble beginnings as an English settlement to its role in supplying torpedo boats during World War I. The town's evolution reflects the broader changes in Long Island's economy and way of life. Today, New Suffolk retains its historical charm and continues to be a testament to the enduring maritime spirit of the North Fork. This little hamlet's past may be rich with history, but its future is equally promising, promising to maintain its unique character for generations to come.


  1. "New Suffolk, New York." Wikipedia. [Link]
  2. Clavin, Tom. "A Brief History of New Suffolk, Long Island." Long Island Historical Journal, Vol. 17, No. 2, 2005.
  3. New Suffolk Waterfront Fund. "About Us." [Link]

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