Summary of Current Research
From 1967, when a legislative ally of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller carried a bill to extend the Sunrise Highway through the undisturbed farm-woodlands belt of the Hamptons to Amagansett, to 1999, when the Community Preservation Fund became law to preserve open space on Long Island’s East End through a surtax on property sales, a political and policy revolution reset the priorities of one of America’s choicest locales.
From the “Halt the Highway” movement that eventually stopped the Sunrise extension, through a host of other new forces–including the Pine Barrens Society, the Peconic Land Trust and the Group for the South Fork–a changed consciousness overtook Hamptons decision-making. This, even as some significant developments went through and incoming wealth continued to populate the region. Though this transformation was formally nonpartisan, it has been accompanied by an end to the long Republican hold in Suffolk County. By the early 2000s, Democrats grew to dominate local politics.
This rapid recasting of government policy happened in the background of the summer party-celebrity culture that occupies so many visitors and part-time residents of the Hamptons. Even to those who’ve lain down roots there in the last 20 years, it may be a lost if recent history. This is the story of the people and events that reshaped everyday life beyond the Shinnecock Canal for decades to come.