The hamlet of Wantagh was inhabited by the Merokee tribe of the Metoac Indians in the mid 1600s. The Merokee were part of the greater Montauk tribe that loosely ruled Long Island's Native Americans. The hamlet was named after Chief Wantagh who was the leader of the Merokee tribe and who later became the chief of the Montauk tribe.
Historians claim that Wantagh was originally known as Jerusalem which is why the creek running north and south through Wantagh was called the Jerusalem River. The first post office was built in 1837, for Jerusalem, although mail service began around 1780. As part of a 5-day tour of Long Island, George Washington rode through Jerusalem on April 21, 1790. A commemorative plaque honoring President Washington’s trip is displayed on Hempstead Turnpike.
Today’s Wantagh started to see significant growth in the 1920s. First came Wantagh Parkway in 1927 which is Long Island’s oldest parkway. Next came Sunrise Highway in 1929 and with the building of hotels along it, Wantagh soon became known as a resort and fishing area. Later that year, the Jones Beach Causeway opened and Wantagh was infamously known as “the gateway to Jones Beach.” With six miles of beautiful beachfront, this New York State Park is the most popular beach on the East Coast with over six million visitors annually.
For more information on the community and its events, contact the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce:
P.O. Box 660
Wantagh, NY 11793