Corporate Offices Raised on Farmland
Beginnings: Melville developed at the intersection of two Indian paths that became major roads. One was first known as Neguntalogue Road and later South Path. It was traveled by Indians and then settlers bringing salt hay from the South Shore to Huntington, and now it is Route 110. This was crossed by an east-west road now known as Old Country Road. Indians originally called the area Sunsquams. After settlement by whites, it was first known in the 17th Century as Samuel Ketcham's Valley after one of the earliest residents. Later it was called Sweet Hollow, perhaps because early settlers found wild honey in the trees growing there.
Turning Points: In 1817, Jericho Turnpike was laid out by town officials so wagon traffic could avoid a steep hill on Old Country Road in West Hills. Old Country Road lost its significance as the main east-west artery, depressing Sweet Hollow's prospects. The name Sweet Hollow was replaced by Melville in school records in 1854 although Sweet Hollow was still used by some people. No one knows how the Melville name was chosen. In 1909 a trolley began trips along Route 110 to Huntington but was shut down a decade later after farmers complained that its whistle frightened their animals.
Suburbia Arrives: In the early years of this century many of the early farms were sold for development. The rapid changes worried long-time residents who pushed for creation of an incorporated village to control land use and services. In a 1950 vote, incorporation was defeated, leaving control in the hands of Huntington town officials. As a result, Melville is now known for its corporate office buildings housing such companies as Swissair, Arrow Electronics, Chyron and Newsday.
Where to Find More: The Huntington town historian's office, Huntington Historical Society.
Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.
This special online section combines community profiles with historical snapshots and maps from the turn of the century. Clicking through the section reveals just how much Long Island and Queens have changed over 100 years.