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In 1695, Thomas Powell bought about 10,000 acres (40 km2) from local Indian tribes, including the Marsapeque, Matinecoc, and Sacatogue, for 140 English pounds. This land, which includes present day Bethpage, East Farmingdale, Farmingdale, Old Bethpage, Plainedge, Plainview, South Farmingdale, and part of Melville, is known as the Bethpage Purchase and is approximately 3.5 miles (5.6 km) east to west and 5 miles (8.0 km) north to south.
Powell called his land Bethphage, because it was situated between two other places on Long Island, Jericho and Jerusalem, just as the biblical town of Bethphage (meaning “house of figs”) was situated between Jericho and Jerusalem. Today, the Long Island place formerly called Jerusalem is known as Wantagh and Island Trees, while the placename Jericho is unaltered. Over time, Bethpage was spelled without the second “H”. Powell’s 14 children split up his purchase and it evolved into several farming communities, and the one in this mostly central part of the purchase retained the name “Bethpage”.
A railroad spur completed in 1873, known as the Bethpage Branch of the Central Railroad of Long Island, ran to a brickworks plant which had opened on what is now Battle Row and Bethpage-Sweet Hollow Road in the 1860s. The railway was built to transport bricks for the construction of Alexander Stewart’s Garden City.For a few years, regularly scheduled passenger traffic also appeared in timetables, with the station being called Bethpage. The line was abandoned in 1942. Remnants of a locomotive turntable can be found in the woods of Bethpage State Park on the east side of Round Swamp Road. The brickyard continued operations under different owners until 1981, with different sections known variously as Bethpage Brickworks, Queens County Brick Manufacturing Company, Post Brick Company, and (after Nassau County split from Queens County in 1899) Nassau Brick Company. The pitted terrain at the brickworks was used in investigations by Grumman for digital mapping of Earth.Learn more about Old Bethpage.