Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cedarhurst at 100!

One hundred years ago, "The Branch" was a resort and  entertainment center which attracted vacationers from all over the country.  The newly formed Nassau County (est. 1899) provided some services in an area formerly  part of Queens County, but some communities wanted local control of their  civic development.  Lawrence became an incorporated village in 1897 and, maintained it's own police and fire departments for many years.  Cedarhurst followed in 1910 and Woodsburgh incorporated in 1912.

In the early years of the 20th century, Cedarhurst consisted of a hotel, three saloons, a blacksmith shop, two butcher shops, a barbershop, a couple of grocery stores, a funeral parlor, an insurance office -- and not much else.    Cedarhurst's first major public works project was the paving of Central Avenue.

Developers created neighborhoods of wide, tree-lined streets where they situated homes in naturalistic settings, far from the noise and pollution of New York City.

The Long Island Rail Road, which had already existed for almost 80 years,  made comfortable commutation to the City possible in under an hour.  

Early Village Officers (Courtesy Nassau County DPRM)

Cedarhurst's first mayor, Horatio P. Vandewater, died after only one year in office. He was replaced by David Weyant.  Village Trustees and officers shown above are: (From left to right) front row: Arthur M. Lockhart, Wavid H. Weyant and John McNicoll. second row: William D. Reilly, George W. Craft, Albert T. Moon, Lewis M. Raisig and Fred L. Gilbert.

As it developed, Cedarhurst attracted some of the most fashionable stores in the area and became the  commercial center of the Five Towns.  Even this 1915 view of Central Avenue at Cedarhurst Avenue shows the boutiques lining the main business intersection of town.  By 1941, 200 stores were located in the business district's one-square-mile  area.

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