Lynbrook is a village of 20,000 residents in the Nassau County in the Town of Hempstead, a fifteen minute east of John F. Kennedy Airport. Lynbrook serves as the setting of the sitcom Everyone Loves Raymond, and in an episode of Seinfeld, the gang decides to go to a mall in Lynbrook, although Lynbrook has no malls. The town was also home to the poet Edward Field and former Communist spy Whittaker Chambers. But its name, and history of its naming, is quite distinctive. In fact, it is an anagram of “Brooklyn.”
The town went through ten names before Lynbrook was decided upon. According to Art Mattson, author of A Brief History of Lynbrook, the village was first inhabited by the Rockaway Indians, an Algonquin group, referring to the land as Rechqua-Akie, which means a “Sandy Place.” It was later renamed Near Rockaway when Europeans arrived in 1641, and by the 1830s the names Clink-Town, named after a Rockaway chief; Parson’s Corners, named after the parsonage in the village; and Bloomfield, possibly just named for the village’s field, were bestowed upon the village.
The name changed again after Wright Pearsall, a young businessman, opened up an extremely successful general store, leading to the name Pearsall’s Corners after he bought 50 acres of land. As New York began to industrialize more, the Southern Railroad extended its line through Pearsall’s Corners and other villages in Southern Long Island, which resulted in the shortening of the name to just Pearsalls.
Due to easier city access, residents of Pearsalls began to ship farm and seafood produce to downtown Brooklyn. According to Mattson, 356,350 pounds of oysters were shipped from Pearsalls to other railroad stations, which greatly increased demand for laborers as more businesses opened in Pearsalls. Due to the railroad’s efficacy, the village grew to above 2,000 residents, as former Brooklyn residents relocated to seek more opportunity in the town.
Yet, for the new residents who had little idea of who Pearsall was, many objected to the village’s name. The newcomers came up with the simple yet lasting name of “Lynbrook,” formed by switching the two syllables in Brooklyn to pay homage to their former home. On April 4, 1894, a referendum was held, and the named appeared at the train station and on U.S. Post Office records one month later. Many long-time residents continued to call the village Pearsall until the Village of Lynbrook was incorporated in 1911. As technological improvements like telephone lines and electricity made their way to Lynbrook, the village quickly became “the fastest growing village in Nassau County” according to Mattson, as well as a tribute to the borough of Brooklyn — provided the village’s name doesn’t change for the eleventh time.
A visit to Lynbrook is easy, with the Long Island Railroad making a stop there. One of the architectural highlights is the stately library, built in 1929 and has the feel of one of the Carnegie libraries built all around New York City. There are also charming houses set on well-manicured properties — a quintessential American town.
Next, check out 10 Long Island Gilded Age Mansions.