What is a hamlet?

A hamlet is a community. The Town of Babylon is comprised of ten hamlets and three incorporated villages.  The hamlets are: Copiague Ÿ Deer Park Ÿ East Farmingdale Ÿ North Amityville Ÿ North Babylon Ÿ North Lindenhurst Ÿ West Babylon Ÿ Wheatley Heights Ÿ Wyandanch Ÿ And, the barrier beach communities of Captree Island, Gilgo Beach, Oak Beach, Oak Island and West Gilgo Beach. Local governments in the state of New York include counties, cities, towns and villages. The communities within Town governments are known as “hamlets.” 

The term “hamlet” does not have a legal definition under NYS law, but is used to identify communities within Towns (such as the Town of Babylon) that are not part of incorporated villages, sometimes referred to as “unincorporated communities.” 

A hamlet does not have its own government and is under the jurisdiction of its Town for municipal services (e.g. garbage pick-up, building codes). Causing great confusion … hamlets have no official boundaries. (Outside of the state of New York, the term “hamlet” is rarely used.) The beach communities are counted as one by the U.S. Census Designated Place (CDP).

Barrier Beach Communities – the Name, the Zip Code, Etc. 

Map of Oak Island Beach from Atlas of Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, Merritt B.

Hyde; Published by E. B. Hyde, 1902

Historically, Oak Beach Island (sometimes, Oak Island) was a large barrier island that extended from around the Nassau County border on the west and Captree Island on the east.  Jones Island or Jones Beach Island was to its west.  These names are found on maps up through the mid-1900s.  This 1902 map shows Oak Island Beach (the large, long island) and Oak Island (the small island we identify as Oak Island today).

The 1930s construction of Ocean Parkway obliterated any denotation of the larger Oak Beach Island, by “joining” the island with a roadway.  Today, this lack of distinction between the islands can make it confusing to interpret old maps.  The name “Jones Island” is often extended from the Nassau County Jones Beach area to Captree Island, obscuring the name Oak Island Beach, as if it never existed.

The Town of Babylon’s barrier beach communities, from west to east, are: West Gilgo Beach, Gilgo Beach, Oak Island, Oak Beach and Oak Beach Association, and the western part of Captree Island.  Here is a brief look at some community names:

Captree – Reportedly, the name Captree appears on nautical maps and charts dating back to the 17th century.  In the collection of Huntington Town Records, the name “Cap tree” first appears in a lease dated June 1, 1802.  Throughout the Huntington Town Records both Cap Tree and Captree are used.

Oak (beach/island) – Books about Long Island, written in the 1600-1800s, often describe that the landscape was covered in scrub oak and pine trees.  The scrub oak may have been an inspiration in naming the area “Oak.”  In 1913, some of the boardwalks at Oak Beach were named for local shipwrecks:

  • Savannah Walk – wrecked in 1821, it was the first American steamboat to cross the Atlantic Ocean
  • Brilliant Walk – wrecked in 1831; it washed up near the shore, allowing people to get to safety
  • Drumelzia Avenue – wreaked in 1904, on Christmas Day; no lives were lost
  • Sullivan Street – wrecked in 1852, on New Year’s Day.
  • Elizabeth Street (no longer exists) – wrecked 1850; among those who died was Margaret Fuller, a well-known writer and suffragist.

Gilgo – There is a widely circulated story that the name “Gilgo” was derived from a man named Gil Burch, a fisherman whose family lived on the South Shore, across the Great South Bay from Gilgo Inlet.  It has been said that people wanted to go to the fishing spot used by Gil Burch and it became the place where “Gil Goes.”

A few “Gils,” all of whom were born in the 1800s, have been reported to be the “Gil” who inspired the name.  However, in the Huntington Town Record, the first record of the name Gilgo appears in 1793, well before those “Gils” were born.

The Gil Burch story is a fun tale, but appears to be a myth.   For more information:  “Where did the name Gilgo come from?” by Rachel Uda, Newsday, May 10, 2018 (https://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/were-did-the-name-gilgo-come-from-174914; accessed April 19, 2022

As listed, there are five distinct communities on the Town of Babylon’s barrier islands.  By road, West Gilgo is about 8-miles from Captree Island, but for the purposes of postal and municipal services, the communities are similar.  They are all part of the Babylon School District, the Babylon Postal District (using zip-code 11702), and are protected by the Babylon Fire Department.  Here are four examples of addresses in these beach communities:

Address
Hamlet/Community 
Post Office
School/Library
Fire Dept. 

2 Ocean Walk

Community of West Gilgo Beach, Town of Babylon

Babylon

Babylon

Babylon

35 Broadway

Community of Gilgo Beach, Town of Babylon

56 Savannah Walk

Community of  Oak Beach, Town of Babylon

98 Oak Island

Community of  Oak Island, Town of Babylon

87 Hawser Drive

Community of Oak Beach Assoc., Town of Babylon

40 Captree Island

Community of Captree Island, Town of Babylon


For information about the Babylon Post Office and the 11702 zip code, please visit here.  Please link to the “Babylon – the Name, the Zip Code, Etc.” section.