The Story of Baldwin
1900 TO THE PRESENT
From the Turn of the Century
World War I
Our Village was now called Baldwin by most people, although
some old timers still liked the former name "Baldwins" better.
1902, the first telephone in Baldwin was installed in the General
Store of Mr. Wortman at the point between Foxhurst Road and Grand
Avenue. Villagers had to visit the store to make or receive a phone
call. It became easier to travel with the opening of the New York
and Long Island Traction Company trolley that ran through Baldwin
along Atlantic and Church Street from 1903 to 1926. For five cents
you could go to Rockville Centre or Freeport, or for 20 cents, all
the way to Brooklyn in open-sided summer cars and closed cars in the
1907, the village had its first high school building, and students
from other villages came here to attend.
people moved into "Beautiful Baldwin" as it was called by Charles
Luerssen, a village realtor, for its fine homes nearby to New York
City, its modern improvements, and also for its boating, bathing,
and fishing delights. In 1911, the village had only two churches,
but soon held many more. Another village improvement was the addition
of gas light street lamps in parts of the village from about 1910
until the 1920's. After 1911, the Baldwin Water Company installed
water main pipes. This was a great improvement.
1910, one special sight to see over Baldwin was an early "aeroplane."
Two brothers, Albert and Arthur Heinrich, lived near today's Plaza
School. They are believed to have built the very first successful
all-American powered monoplane (a plane with one wing, unlike a biplane).
They flew it for the first time in that year and they built better
planes after this first success.
people drove the roads of the village by bicycles and horse-drawn
vehicles only. Now the automobile (the "horseless carriage") was becoming
more and more common. At that time, it was harder work taking care
of these early cars than it was taking care of horses, but newer model
Fords, Chevrolets and others were better built. Better cars needed
better roads, so some of Baldwin's main roads were soon paved. By
1915, more and more cars appeared and fewer horses were seen. People
started travelling faster and faster. Early silent movies were shown
in the theater now occupied by Sportarama on Grand Avenue. This building
was also used for school programs, as well as occasional school basketball
games and plays.
1917, the old railroad train depot, which was in very poor condition,
was replaced with a handsome new station for the village. At this
time, Baldwin actor, Victor Moore, was making silent films in Baldwin.
He called them his Klever Komedies.
United States entered World War I in 1917. The Star Shell Plant was
opened in 1917 to make exploding shells, which were used by the army
to light up the night skies during battles. Also in this same year,
Orenco, The Ordinance Engineering Corporation, opened a factory on
Brooklyn Avenue to build U.S. Army airplanes. The Heinrich Brothers
also built planes for the army during the war.
New homes were in demand and 400 were erected in '27 alone. Old farms
were divided, gas and water mains were installed, cedar hedges were
cut down, and corn and potato fields were sold as lots. The Fredericks,
Cornwell, and Sprague farms were swallowed up by subdivisions. Lanes
became streets, footpaths metamorphosed into sidewalks. Small homes
rose on Thomas Avenue, on Harrison, North up to Seaman, still farther
North on Stanton.
first electric street lamps replaced the old gas lamps. The companies
of Bee Line, Ben Sherman's Baldwin Bus Co., and Baldwin Harbor Bus
Company as well as others took over the local business of the old
trolleys. An 18-hole golf course at the Milburn Country Club stood
on the site of today's Baldwin Shopping Center and Baldwin Senior
High School. From 1924 to 1925, the Cos-Clemin Aircraft Corporation
owned the old Orenco factory on Brooklyn Avenue. In addition to building
seaplanes and training planes, it also built the very first ambulance
airplane in the United States. This was another aviation first in
the dismay of many people, another first was made in 1920 by the United
States Government. A Prohibition Law was passed making alcoholic drinks
illegal. Dealers who smuggled illegal alcoholic drinks into the Baldwin
area were called bootleggers and rumrunners. Often, large boats in
the ocean waters off Baldwin were met at night by smaller speedboats
that carried cases of illegal drinks to the shore and waiting trucks
to be sold elsewhere.
people wanted Baldwin to become an incorporated city, to have its
own taxes, fire and police protection, and mayor and public services
to improve the fast-growing community. The village voted against it.
This has been tried at other times in our history, as well.
Street was the shopping area for the harbor residents, although it
suffered two large fires in 1922 and 1927. The new high school opened
and in 1929, the new Sunrise Highway became the major east/west route
through Baldwin. This solved some of the traffic problems of the old
Merrick Road, which was often jammed with cars on weekends. In that
same year, a small company moved into the old plane factory on Brooklyn
Avenue for a short time, and later became a world leader in aircraft
and aerospace development. The little company that grew in Baldwin
was the Grumman Aircraft Corporation.
1920, Baldwin's estimated population was 5,000. The great numbers
of newcomers to Baldwin moved into their own houses or rented some
of the newly built apartment houses. By the year 1930, there were
about 12,000 people living in Baldwin, nearly five times as many as
ten years earlier.
and the Great Depression
At the end of a prosperous ten years in the 1920's for Baldwin
and for the country, the entire nation was thrown into confusion when
the New York stock market crashed. As a result, many people lost their
jobs, their homes, and their savings. Without jobs, they could not
pay their bills, and many became poor people overnight. The nation's
economy took many long years to recover and gain back its strength.
During these hard times, there were still some improvements made in
Baldwin. In the early 1930's, Baldwin's Sanitary District #2 became
important. No longer did residents have to arrange to cart their garbage
to the dump or dig trash pits on their property. In 1933, Baldwin's
Century Theatre opened on Merrick Road and the first film shown starred
1924, electrical appliances were in many Baldwin homes. The refrigerator
had replaced the old oak icebox as well as the deliveryman who brought
the blocks of ice. The village was proud of its new fire headquarters
1939, Baldwin was the largest unincorporated village in all of New
York State with over 4,000 homes and 119 apartments. When 1940 arrived,
Baldwin's population was over 15,000.
War II and the Growth Years
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese forces attacked the United States
at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Many American lives were lost. Baldwin men
and women joined the armed forces to go to war against Japan, Germany
home, the Civil Defense was planned and air raid drills were practiced.
Certain items such as gasoline and rubber tires were not always available
because the Army, Navy, and Air Corps needed them. Several times,
German submarines were seen off the south shore. The Baldwin Naval
Ordinance Plant supplied some of the military needs of the Armed Forces.
Finally, in 1945, most of our brave men and women returned home. The
United States, and our allies, had won the war.
After the war, Baldwin began to grow again. Many World War II veterans
were moving to Long Island and starting families.
1957, the Long Island Rail Road tracks through the center of the village
were raised, allowing cars and people to pass safely under them. Before
this, the trains had often blocked road traffic, and some people lost
their lives at the grade crossings and on the third rail. The handsome
old 1917 depot was torn down. From the late 1950's and into the 1960's,
homes were being built on filled meadowland where the early farmers
once cut salt hay.
1980, Baldwin's estimated population was 31,630 living in over 10,000
To join the Baldwin Historical Society, please call (516) 223-6900.
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