The Town of Brookhaven is the most populous of the ten towns of Suffolk County, New York, United States. Part of the New York metropolitan area, it is located approximately 50 miles from Manhattan. It is the only town in the county that stretches from the north shore to the south shore of Long Island. It is the largest of New York State's 932 towns by area (when water area is included), and the second most populous after the Town of Hempstead.
The first settlement in what is now Brookhaven was known as Setauket. Founded as a group of agricultural hamlets in the mid-17th century, Brookhaven first expanded as a major center of shipbuilding in the 19th century. Its proximity to New York City facilitated the establishment of resort communities, followed by a post-war population boom. In the 2010 census record, Brookhaven contained 486,040 people.
The township is home to two renowned research centers, Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory. Combined these two research centers are approximately 50% of the Town's top ten employer's employee count. Tourism is also a major part of the local economy. The largest traditional downtowns are located in Port Jefferson, a regional transportation hub, and Patchogue. The area has long been serviced by the Long Island Rail Road and Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry.
The first known inhabitants were Algonquian-speaking Native Americans, of the Setauket and Unkechaug tribes. The first English settlers arrived around 1640. The latter founding year was recognized in 1976, when the Brookhaven Town Bicentennial Commission proposed setting the date on the seal to 1655 in line with this first deed of settlement of the town of Brookhaven at Setauket on April 14, 1655. Considering this founding year of 1655, Brookhaven is the fifth English township on Long Island following Southampton, Southold, Huntington, and East Hampton.
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