Port Jefferson in Suffolk County is a bustling village once known for its 19th-century shipbuilding industry. Today, parts of a working waterfront still exist, along with a marina, and the terminus of the Port Jefferson-Bridgeport Ferry that plies the Long Island Sound. The walkable village features a number of historic buildings and areas as well as more modern developments like its Harborfront Park and much of its downtown. There’s a diverse offering of culinary options and retail to peruse on a visit to Port Jefferson.
The Port Jefferson Village Historic District contains nearly 100 buildings, a majority built from 1840 to 1870 in the Greek Revival, Italianate, and Victorian styles, and some of these buildings today house eateries and shops. The area was also a contributor in the Revolutionary War, as a number of residences played a role in the Culper Spy Ring. Here is our guide to 10 must-see spots in Port Jefferson.
1. Barnum Avenue
By Port Jefferson’s downtown is the surprisingly-named Barnum Avenue, named in honor of circus owner P.T. Barnum. Barnum owned a tract of land in Port Jefferson and intended to set up his circus here, yet residents quickly put a stop to his plans. Barnum purchased the area of Brick Hill in the 1870s, yet Barnum’s route book shows that he never performed in Port Jefferson.
Although Barnum’s plans for the circus failed in Port Jefferson, Brick Hill developed as Port Jefferson’s “first suburb” under figures like Harvey Markham, the “general overseer” of the project whose home on Barnum Avenue served as Brick Hill’s real estate office. With “a gang of 24 men,” Markham graded Brick Hill and began advertising the area in August 1875. Today, Barnum Avenue is home to a number of historic Victorian homes dating back to Markham’s plans, and by Port Jefferson’s downtown is the Old Mill Creek Walkway that passes through Barnum Avenue.