In 1650, Christopher and Thomas Foster purchased a large plot of land controlled by Dutch settlers with the intention of raising cattle and sheep. They named this place “Foster’s Meadow” — a name which would remain for the next 200 years of the village’s history. Control of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam shifted to England in 1664, marking the first gradual cultural shift in Foster’s Meadow with the establishment of a community of predominantly English,Protestant farmers and their families. In 1683, Long Island was divided into three counties, Kings, Queens and Suffolk Counties; under this new structure, Foster’s Meadow was part of Queens County. The current boundaries of Elmont were decided upon in 1898; at this point, Nassau County was erected, leading to conflict over land and monies owed as a result of Elmont’s boundary shift from Queens. It was during the mid-19th century that Foster’s Meadow experienced its second cultural shift, with the influx of farmers from Brooklyn and Middle Village to the west. These groups were largely of German descent and practiced Catholicism. Indeed the Catholic population in Foster’s Meadow grew to the extent that St. Boniface Church was built in 1852, providing a focal point for the gradual development of a Catholic population base.
The community underwent its next political reshuffling in 1882, being subdivided into districts with unique names and boundaries (including Alden Manor and Locustwood); it was at this time that Foster’s Meadow was renamed Elmont. Arguably the most significant milestone in the development of modern-day Elmont was the building of the Belmont Racetrack in 1905. In this year, 620 acres (2.5 km2) were purchased on the edge of the region and by 1915, the Racetrack was opened to the public, attracting both visitors and migrant workers to the area. Housing developments and businesses grew in the area surrounding the racetrack to meet the needs of these workers; this process of development to meet the workers’ needs continued in successive waves, ultimately representing a shift in Elmont from rural farmland to suburbia.
With the opening of Belmont Racetrack in 1905, Elmont reached a turning point in its history. The farms were sold and subdivided for houses, most of them owned by people who worked at Belmont Racetrack. Many business were formed onHempstead Turnpike to support the blooming suburban location. The first air race in the United States was held at Belmont Racetrack, including a race from Elmont to the Statue of Liberty and back.
The first intercity airmail service between New York and Washington, D.C. in 1918 used Belmont Park in Elmont as the terminal for New York.
Post-World War II saw widespread development of attractive suburban tract homes. Many of these homes were constructed with a brick-veneer ground story over basement in variations of the cape style to the south and east of Hempstead Turnpike, while older, smaller shingled homes cluster near the racetrack.
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