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The End of the Hamptons

The End of the Hamptons: Scenes from the Class Struggle in America's Paradise

Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 277
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  • Book Info
    The End of the Hamptons
    Book Description:

    Winner of the 2005 Book Prize from the Association for Humanist SociologyIn this absorbing account of New York's famous vacation playground, Corey Dolgon goes beyond the celebrity tales and polo games to tell us the story of this complex and contentious land. From the displacement of Native Americans by the Puritans to the first wave of Manhattan elites who built the Summer Colony, to the current infusion of telecommuting Manhattanites who now want to live there year-round, the story of the Hamptons is a vicious cycle of supposed paradise lost. Drawing on this fabled land's history, The End of the Hamptons provides a fascinating portrait of current controversies: the Native Americans fighting over land claims and threatening to build a casino, the environmental activists clashing with the McMansion builders, and the Latino day laborers and working-class natives trying to eke out a living in an ever-increasingly expensive town.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8512-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Spending Time in the Hamptons
    (pp. 1-13)

    The post-9/11 flood of migrants from New York City to the Hamptons may have made local news, but it certainly was not the first time that signs of urban danger or decay inspired metropolitans to seek the more peaceful, bucolic landscapes of Long Island’s East End.¹ The earliest wave of aristocratic “summer people” arrived in search of unspoiled beaches and a calming environment. Urban life’s growing chaos and the spreading fears of disease from an increasingly “dirty and smelly” city (especially during the summer months) motivated more and more rich city folks to establish summer colonies in the late nineteenth...

  6. 1 Waves upon the Shore: Coming to the Hamptons from Earliest Times to the 1970s
    (pp. 14-44)

    It would be impossible to introduce any historical or contemporary study of the Hamptons without starting from the land itself. Natural historians have raved about the many ecological characteristics unique to Long Island’s East End.¹ A great glacier’s impact on the area’s topography left behind a cornucopia of environmental superlatives: soft, sandy beaches and brisk ocean waves, smooth rolling hills and sparkling kettle ponds, thousands of acres of dense pine forests, large expanses of good soil, and calm, protected bays. These geological elements encouraged flora and fauna of all sorts, and fertile hunting and gathering made the region a popular...

  7. 2 Houses in the Fields: New York City Moves East
    (pp. 45-82)

    Long before the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, New York City residents had tried to escape their apocalyptic fears of urban life.¹ In the late nineteenth century, concerns over congestion, filth, and crime inspired wealthier residents to create what Leo Marx called a “middle landscape” somewhere between the chaos, garbage, and immigrant-dense metropolis and the “uncivilized,” “provincial,” and “poor countryside.” ² Members of America’s new ruling class found Long Island more appealing than their estates in Newport and their bungalows in Bar Harbor, Maine, primarily because of the Island’s proximity to the city. As Baxandall and Ewen write, “their Long...

  8. 3 Peconic County Now! Whose Quality of Life Is It Anyway?
    (pp. 83-118)

    On Election Day, November 4, 1996, an overwhelming 70 percent majority of voters in the five towns of Eastern Long Island supported a referendum to secede from Suffolk County and to form Peconic County. A local state assemblyman, Fred Thiele Jr., one of the biggest supporters of the initiative, credited the victory to “literally hundreds of people who got together on cold winter nights [going door-to-door] from Montauk to Eastport to Wading River.” As chairman of Peconic County Now!, an incorporated organization set up to promote secession, Larry Cantwell argued, “It’s not just a pipe dream. It is a mandate...

  9. 4 Polo Ponies and Penalty Kicks: Sports on the East End
    (pp. 119-156)

    The Walentas family estate and horse farm in Bridgehampton is home to the Bridgehampton Polo Club and the new Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge, a professional polo tournament that now stands, according to one former professional, as “the best polo played in America.” As exciting as polo may be, however, most press and spectator attention is paid to the special celebrity guests who congregate under a large tent off to one side of the field. Here, famous entertainers, models, designers, CEOs, and politicos sip champagne and nosh on gourmet snacks before they mix with the hoi polloi during half-time, when the whole...

  10. 5 The Other Hamptons: Race and Class in America’s Paradise
    (pp. 157-196)

    On February 14, 1997, custodial services at Southampton College of Long Island University (LIU) were contracted out to LARO Service Systems, a company that specializes in providing maintenance to large corporate facilities such as the Port Authority Terminal, in New York City, and John F. Kennedy International Airport, in Queens. Custodians suddenly found themselves forced to fill out new job applications for positions some had held for almost thirty years. LARO supervisors told custodians that no one’s job would be guaranteed and that changes in the workforce, schedules, and procedures would soon follow. Although the custodians’ union, United Industrial Workers...

  11. 6 From Clam Beds to Casinos: The Enduring Battle over Native American Land Rights
    (pp. 197-223)

    On a cold Thursday morning in February 2000, state troopers arrested the Shinnecock activist Becky Genia for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Along with a few dozen other tribal members and supporters, Genia was protesting the development of a sixty-two-acre piece of land adjacent to the Shinnecock reservation in Southampton. The developers, Parrish Pond Associates, had hoped to begin work clearing the wooded parcel and building their thirty-eight-lot McMansion subdivision. But local Native Americans argued that the land contained a sacred burial ground, and environmental groups claimed that a large residential development would result in hazardous groundwater runoff, eventually contaminating...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 224-230)

    Tony Rosalia, one of the many Hamptons residents I interviewed for this project, spoke to me on the phone after he had read the penultimate draft of the book. “I think it’s good,” he said. “You make some important points about the area’s history and recent changes. But, it’s too negative. The Hamptons that you write about doesn’t feel like the Hamptons I know and see so much of the time.” As an example, he related a story from his experience as a court translator and liaison for the Latino community. It seems that two wealthy older women had recently...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 231-258)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-270)
  15. Index
    (pp. 271-276)
  16. About the Author
    (pp. 277-277)