Bethpage has a long history dating back several centuries. It was originally inhabited by Native Americans, then became a farming village settled by Quakers, then it played a central role in aviation and aerospace history and is now a high-tech center with several major corporations calling it home.
Originally several Native American groups were involved with the Bethpage area prior to its settlement by Quakers. The Massapequa, Secatog, and Matinecock all roamed the area and had some claim to it. In 1695, Thomas Powell, a devout Quaker, bought the land from Native Americans. He paid 140 sterling pounds.
Powell called his land Bethpage (which means "house of figs") because there was a place in the Bible in between Jericho and Jerusalem named "Bethphage". His land was situated between the settlement of Jericho and what had previously been referred to as Jerusalem (now Wantagh).
Even though Thomas Powell named his land Bethpage, the people who eventually moved here in the 1850's pressured the village to change its name to Central Park. Land speculators thought that by naming the village Central Park, more people would want to move here. This was before New York City built its famous park and so in 1857 the name was officially changed to Central Park. It was changed back to Bethpage in 1936 at the request of residents who felt overshadowed by the more famous Central Park.
Residents of the Bethpage area went to school at the Bedelltown School built at the corner of Broadway and Plainview Roads in 1858. The second Bedelltown School was built on property that would now be the Bethpage High School football field. This one room building was built in the 1890's. In 1912, the much larger Powell Avenue school was built on the current site of the Bethpage Public Library (which was built in 1963 and remodeled in 1995).
In 1950, the Broadway School (now the John F. Kennedy Middle School) was constructed on land that in earlier years was used for farming. This first served as the high school and junior high school. Prior to this time, students attended Farmingdale High School, and at an even earlier date, attended school in Mineola. The "baby boom" created a need for more schools in the community. The following schools were built: Pine Avenue (1954), Central Boulevard School (1955-56), Kramer Lane School (1957), Bloomingdale School (1959), Bethpage High School (1959), and Charles Campagne (1962). The Kramer Lane and Charles Campagne schools are named after former members of the Bethpage Board of Education. The Bloomingdale School was closed in 1972 and the Pine Avenue School was closed in 1980.
The Grumman Corporation, located in Bethpage, was a major supplier of military aircraft during World Wars I and II. Grumman also built the first Lunar Module which was sent to the moon. At its height, Grumman employed over 25,000 workers on Long Island. It eventually merged and became Northrop-Grumman. It sill maintains a large presence in Bethpage, but the corporation is based in California.
Development of buildings and land that once belonged to the Grumman Corporation has been going on since the merger. Today, in addition to Northrop-Grumman, the land is occupied by Cablevision, Grumman Studios (a full production movie studio), Briarcliffe College, FedEx, the Morrelly Homeland Security Building, the LISTnet Corporate Incubator, Goya Foods, Nassau County Police Aviation Center, DalTile, Lily Popcorn, Verizon and Rainbow Network Operating Center, and dozens of other companies.
In addition, in the 1930’s, as part of the New Deal public works program, New York State received funds to acquire land and build a state park in Bethpage and Farmingdale. Called Bethpage State Park, it is a state treasure that has five outstanding golf courses, polo fields, horse trails, tennis, picnic areas, and hiking/bike paths. In 2002 and 2009 its famed Black Course was host to the prestigious U.S. Open sponsored by the U.S. Golf Association.
The Bethpage School District is a leading voice in the promotion of 21st Century skills and boasts tremendous results on all measurements of standardized tests. Bethpage High School is consistently ranked among the best public high schools in the nation. We have partnered with many of our corporate neighbors on projects from Read to Achieve, 21st Century, video production, internships, and shadowing experiences. We are fortunate to be located central to so many generous sponsors.
The Bethpage Golden Eagles have tremendous traditions. Two shining examples are Howie Vogts and Ed Mangano. Coach Vogts started the football program at Bethpage in 1953 and stayed with it until his passing in 2010. He became the winningest coach in New York State high school football. He was also a resident and mentor to many young men during his long and distinguished career. His life was celebrated in a memorial service after his passing on Howie C. Vogts Field and it was attended by over one-thousand people. One of those in attendance was Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, a lifelong Bethpage resident. Mr. Mangano graduated from Bethpage High School and upon his election as County Executive, he held his inauguration in the school’s Center for the Performing Arts. It was a great day for Bethpage and was attended by over 1,200 people. Coach Vogts and Mr. Mangano typify the love residents of Bethpage have for their schools and community. We are all fortunate.