Dan Rattiner's StoriesDan's North Fork

The Hamptons, North Fork & East End Don’t Exist

If you go to Paris, you’re in Paris. If you go to London, you’re in London. If you go to Timbuktu, Rio de Janeiro or Sidney, you’re in Timbuktu, Rio or Sidney. But if you go to the Hamptons, you’re nowhere. There is no such place as the Hamptons.

There is also no such place as the North Fork, eastern Long Island or the East End. This is not a joke. Every one of these places, familiar to everybody, is will o’ the wisp. Say them all you like. Everybody knows what they mean. But none actually exists.

Let us start with Peconic County, which so far I haven’t even mentioned. And there is lots more coming. Peconic County is the name we give to the five eastern towns of Long Island together as a group that hope to be Peconic County. We have an application in place. We have a county flag. We have nothing. The attempt to make it happen was batted down by the state. No Peconic County.

Let’s try the Hamptons. There is no such place. It refers to a group of little towns and villages on the South Fork of Long Island, but exactly what towns and villages it includes is different depending on who you ask. Is Montauk a Hampton? Is Remsenburg a Hampton? How about one of the villages actually named with the word “Hampton,” Westhampton Beach? Of course that’s a Hampton. But it’s not on the South Fork. I will write more about this later.

But for now, know that there is also no “Hamptons.”

The North Fork also doesn’t exist. There is nothing here by that name. The North Fork sticks out at the eastern end of Long Island as the northerly of two forks sticking out, but that’s just what we call it. It doesn’t exist. It also, like the Hamptons, consists of a whole lot of villages and towns that reside on what we call the North Fork, but then, at the western end, where the supposed North Fork sticks into the main part of Long Island, it might or might not include several such actual places already known and named, or it might not. What, for example, is to be made of Wading River? Or Calverton? Or Northville? If the North Fork were a tooth, they would be at its root. So they could be in or they could be out.

I mentioned Long Island. And although that does exist, its borders can be considered in two different ways. It can be without Brooklyn, which gives the western border of “Long Island” a demarcation line between the borough of Queens and Nassau County. Or it can be the WHOLE island, as in; lets take a boat ride around Long Island. You choose.

(This is a huge difference. Without Brooklyn, Long Island has 3 million people. With Brooklyn it has 5 million.)

There is not a North Fork. And there is not a South Fork. If I say to you “let’s go to the South Fork,” where do we go? Look at a map. No South Fork. Like Hamptons, it is will o’ the wisp. No place named that. If pressed, a local person might venture that the South Fork is larger than the Hamptons and the Hamptons is contained in it. If you suggest that this might be the other way around, they will shake their heads no.

The East End does not exist. You can say “we’re going out to the East End for the weekend” all you want. But there is no place by that name. Google it. Your first entry might be a section in London.

Others might tell you that “East End” is just short for “the eastern end of Long Island,” which does exist, but they will be wrong. There is no place called “the Eastern End of Long Island.”

There is, however, such a place as Southampton. But you have to explain further which one you mean. There is a Village of Southampton, which is different from the Town of Southampton and existing entirely inside the Town of Southampton, and then there is the entity Town of Southampton, which, besides surrounding the Village of Southampton, also surrounds such places as Quogue, Quiogue, Speonk, Remsenburg, Bridgehampton, Water Mill, Sagaponack (almost) and one half of Sag Harbor. Plus, I might add, it was originally two words. It was “South Hampton.”

I mentioned Sag Harbor. There are THREE Sag Harbors. There is the Sag Harbor Village itself. There is the half of Sag Harbor that resides inside the Township of Southampton and there is the half of Sag Harbor that resides inside the Township of East Hampton. Long, long ago, in 1707, a little hamlet of homes was formed down around Long Wharf which served the maritime economy of both Southampton and East Hampton and, eventually, there came a time when it needed to be decided which town this village would reside in. Instead, the powers that be in 1707 decided to split it down the middle. That middle it splits down is the center of a road called, naturally, Division Street. So where is Sag Harbor?

East Hampton Town also exists, and so does East Hampton Village, encapsulated within the Town of East Hampton, just like the situation in Southampton. Which one are you referring to? Actually, the village was originally called Maidstone, and soon thereafter Easthampton But never mind.

And East Hampton also includes unincorporated hamlets that include Amagansett, Springs, Wainscott and Montauk.

Ah, Montauk! Finally we come to a place that has a location, an identity and an actual, unambiguous name. And I am not going to argue with you about it. It exists. But the real question is—is it a “Hampton?”

And that’s a biggie, isn’t it? The “Hamptons,” whatever it is, is about location, location, location. If you are a Hampton, your property values are double what they would have been otherwise. But as I said, there is no such thing as the Hamptons. But there is.

Here’s a poll. Or two polls. With the first poll, I ask you, dear reader, to decide where the “Hamptons” begins. Obviously you begin it when you cross the border in the west. Where is that? Second poll asks, where does the “Hamptons” end? Obviously it ends at the Montauk Lighthouse. Or it doesn’t. It’s up to you. (Scroll down for the secret bonus poll!)

Please answer the poll questions below. Or ignore everything, and just tell your friends you are going out to Whatchamacallit.

[total-poll id=212099]

[total-poll id=212101]

[total-poll id=212102]

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