The Hempstead Plains were once a defining feature of Long Island. Covering some 40,000 acres, the Plains stretched from the Queens border in the west to the Suffolk border in the east, creating a sea of waist-high grass in the middle of what is now Nassau County.
Remnants of the Plains still remain, most notably in a 17-acre segment on the campus of Nassau Community College preserved by the Friends of Hempstead Plains.
On today’s episode, Betsy Gulotta, former conservation project manager of the Friends, takes us on a walking tour, pointing out the grasses, trees, and endangered species that have continued to thrive for centuries. She relates the history of the Friends and their conservation efforts, as well as some of the storied history of the Plains.
That history includes the earliest horseracing in the state, numerous staging areas for soldiers like Camp Black during the Spanish-American War, and sites like Mitchel Field that helped make the area the Cradle of Aviation.
You can listen to the episode here.
The Long Island History Project is an independent podcast featuring stories and interviews with people passionate about Long Island history. It is hosted by academic librarian Chris Kretz.
For a full list of this week’s New York Almanack podcasts announcements click HERE.