A small kettle pond fed by a freshwater spring at the edge of the Hempstead Plains was the basis of Plainview’s origins. It was an indentation in the ground left behind by retreating glaciers. The pond – just northeast of the modern-day intersection of Old Country and Manetto Hill Roads – became a holy site for Indians across Long Island, who valued rare sources of fresh water. They named the pond Moscopas, meaning “hole of dirt and water”, and the Manetto, a word for “god”. Indians hunted in the area, often after praying at the foot of Manetto Hill. Hempstead settler Robert Williams, originally of Wales, purchased land west of Moscopas from the Matinecocks in 1648. The major European land purchase, however, was in 1695 when Thomas Powell’s Bethpage Purchase extended north to Moscopas. A tiny farming community formed near the pond, taking the name Manetto Hill. It remained isolated and insignificant for more than a century.
The railroad’s arrival at nearby Hicksville in 1837 opened the vast markets of Brooklyn, western Queens and New York City to Manetto Hill farmers. The opening of the brickworks in nearby Old Bethpage in the 1860’s attracted more people to the area. In 1885, Manetto Hill asked for a post office but was turned down because another community upstate had a similar name. The following year residents decided to call their community Plainview because of the prairie vistas from the top of the hill. The early 20th Century saw blights attack the two major crops of cucumbers and potatoes. By the time the post-World War II housing boom arrived, farmers were ready to sell. Plainview’s population exploded from 1,155 in 1950 to more than 35,000 a decade later.
Claim to Fame
Before blight wiped out Plainview’s lucrative cucumber crop in the early 1900’s, it was a major source of America’s pickles, supplying works in Farmingdale and the big Heinz plant in Hicksville.
The Community Today
A great community to live, work and play in. The population is approximately 33,000. Plainview-Old Bethpage is centrally located on Long Island covering an area of 8.3 sq. miles with access to all major highways.
The community has one of the best libraries in Nassau County, the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library, which is open 76 hours each week. Other agencies located in Plainview-Old Bethpage are the Plainview Water District, Plainview Volunteer Fire Department, two Post Offices, North Shore University Hospital, Central Island Nursing Home, Mid-Island Y, the Plainview Health Center and the Cooperative Extension of Nassau County and other County offices located in the Nassau Office Complex off Old Country Road. The Old Bethpage Restoration Village and the Battleground Campgrounds are located in Old Bethpage.
At present, there are approximately 4883 children attending our four elementary schools, two junior high schools and one high school. We have many strip malls with major supermarkets, drug stores, restaurants and a variety of other stores. There are also several medical and office buildings. It is a community where the houses are well kept and the people enjoy the best of suburbia.
Where to Find More
“Our Town: Life in Plainview-Old Bethpage 1600 Through Tomorrow”, by Richard Koubek, published in 1987, and other material at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library.