The history of Glen Cove, like that of most other settlements on the North Shore of Long Island is closely associated with the history of its waterfront. Surrounded by water of three sides, Glen Cove presently has over ten miles of waterfront including: three public beaches, two nature preserves, a public golf course and a public park. It was the waterfront that first attracted the Native Americans, the City’s founding fathers and ultimately the wealthy families who would later create the Gold Coast of Glen Cove.
Carpenter and his friends saw great potential in their new community. They constructed a saw mill and a gristmill across what is now known as Glen Cove Creek. The harbor was ideal for shipping lumber to New York City and the creek was dammed to provide power for the mills. Their goal was furnish New York City with lumber for the construction of housing. The site for the saw mill had many congenial conditions - a fine stream, opportunity for a short dam, and easy access to navigable water at high tide.
The proprietors and their families built their homes near the campfires of the Indians along a street atop a hill overlooking the saw mill. They were blessed with the brave spirit of the pioneer. They were not afraid to work long hours to mold the raw materials of nature into the finished products needed to build a civilization. While each had land for his own homestead, much of the land was maintained as common space for the grazing of cattle. The first settled street in Glen Cove, called "The Place" still survives today.
The lumber produced by the saw mill found a ready market in New York City. By 1679, two years after Carpenter's purchase from the Indians was officially ratified by the colonial New York government, the mill was producing nine different thickness of boards and timber, as well as tile laths, shingle laths, wainscot, "feather-edged" boards for paneling, and custom-cut walnut for cabinet-making.
Some of the mill's accounts were recorded in the Musketa Cove Proprietor's Book, a hand- written record of the early settlers' land transactions and agreements. Musketa Cove Proprietor’s Book is an outstanding primary record; its pages contain a copy of the Andros Patent of 1677; references to minor land disputes with the Matinecock Indians, and family records of the Coles, Thornycraft and Carpenter families.
Some of the earliest entries are dated November 30, 1668; listed are certain Articles of Agreement signed by the five proprietors. The Proprietors agreed that “no trees shall be cut for pipe staves except as agreed upon by vote of the majority; no one shall put out hogs or cattle for summering except as agreed on by majority vote; only by vote of the majority shall any highway be built, lots laid out or fences erected.”
The saw mill built by the proprietors provided a major influx of capital from outside Glen Cove. A gristmill was built in 1677. The exports of the lumber industry were not the sole source of income, however. Colonial Governor Lord Bellomont wrote in 1699 to the Board of Trade in London describing Musketa Cove as one of the top four ports for smuggling on all of Long Island. Goods smuggled to avoid the high import taxes demanded by Mother England included brandy, rum and wine.
Long Island was one of the few places in North America that the British held uncontested throughout the Revolution, and as a result, dozens of British Provincial Corps (armed loyalists) and Hessian regiments were stationed on Long Island, housed in homes abandoned by Patriots who had fled the area. The population of Musketa Cove in the decade after the Revolution grew to nearly 250.
In 1827, Dr. Thomas Garvie opened negotiations with Cornelius Vanderbilt to begin operating a steamboat between Glen Cove and New York City on a regular basis. In 1829 a daily steamboat run was made between Glen Cove and New York City. But many New York residents were reluctant to visit the town because they didn't realize that there was a difference between "mus-kee-tah" (this place of rushes) and "mosquito" (a rather pesky insect). A public meeting was held in 1834 to discuss the matter. Several possible names were suggested as alternatives. Local legend has always claimed that someone had suggested "Glen Coe," after a rather pretty spot in Scotland, which was misheard as "Glen Cove." The residents agreed to change the name to Glen Cove.
By the late 1850’s steamboat operation between New York and Glen Cove was in full swing. Glen Cove became a resort community. By the time of the Civil War there were half a dozen major hotels in Glen Cove, most centered near the steamboat landing (which was at the foot of Landing Road, within present day Morgan's Park). The largest of these was the Pavilion Hotel, which was used as a convalescent home during the Civil War for wounded soldiers. In addition to the hotels themselves, a number of "oyster saloons," taverns, and boarding houses opened in the Landing. The community catered to wealthy New York City residents who were beginning to build summer estate homes.
The Industrial Revolution did not reach Glen Cove until the 1850’s around the same time the Duryea Corn Starch Manufacturing Company relocated their main plant from Oswego to Glen Cove. The Duryea Starch Works sprawled over more than an acre and employed nearly 600 people. Employees lived in company-owned apartments, bought their food and clothes from the company store, and read the Glen Cove Gazette, which was printed at least part of its life on a press owned by the starch company. The Starch Works was not well loved by those Glen Cove residents who had no financial interest in it. The volumes of waste produced by converting corn into corn starch was flushed into Glen Cove Creek, where it settled to form a layer of putrefying, obnoxious-smelling organic detritus. The smell, pervasive in both the Glen Cove Landing and Sea Cliff, depending upon the wind, was irritating to resident and visitor alike.