The heavily forested hills south of Oyster Bay were among the lands used for hunting by Matinecock Indians during the hundreds of years before European settlers arrived. It was too far from the shore to serve as a settlement for Indians, but occasional discoveries of arrowheads are indicators that Indians used the woods. Indeed, the name Syosset may come from the Indian word Suwasset, which means "place in the pines." Syosset was included in Robert Williams' 1648 land purchase from the Matinecocks. The Quaker farmers who settled in nearby Jericho, didn't venture that far north, and early Dutch settlers in Oyster Bay didn't climb into the hills for some time. Eventually, some Dutch families did clear land in the mid-1700s, and a small, isolated farming community was established. By 1824, a few businesses, including a small hotel, made up Syosset's core.
Syosset was connected to the rest of the world in 1854, when the Long Island Rail Road built a spur north from Hicksville. The access to New York agriculture markets attracted more farmers to the area, and a commercial district formed around the train station. A post office was established in 1855. Farming remained the dominant trade until shortly before World War II, when the community's larger population triggered an expansion of the business district on Jackson Avenue. After the war, the housing shortage made it profitable for farmers to sell out to developers.
Giving the Slip:
On those rare occasions when Theodore Roosevelt wanted to give well-wishers the slip when he returned to Sagamore Hill in Cove Neck, he would take the train to Syosset instead of Oyster Bay, and ride his horse home through the woods.
Natalie Portman went to one of the finest high school in Long Island. She graduated with honors from Syosset High School in 1999, going on to great success in movies such as Star Wars.
Alfred E. Newman Slept Here:
Mad magazine cartoonist Mort Drucker lived in Syosset.
Where to Find More:
"Looking Back on Syosset" by Patricia Tunison, published 1975.
"Images of America" by Tom Montalbano, published 2001 Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 073850906X