Hempstead Lake state park has a long and important history on Long Island. As New York City’s population steadily rose in the 1800’s, more water was needed for the people and the Brooklyn Waterworks Company built a series of reservoirs to bring more water to the city. One of these reservoirs was Hempstead Lake (known at the time as Hempstead Pond). Engineers thinking it would hold a billion gallons of water were mistaken as the sandy soil of the lake leaked much of the water and it only held 600 million gallons and because of this was abandoned as a viable water source for New York City. To this day you can still see the many structures and iron pipes along the coast of the lake and some of the ponds.
In 1925 Robert Moses bought the land with funds from New York State as he was planning a highway across Long Island which would later become the Southern State Parkway. He put aside 903 acres for the park that would be known as Hempstead Lake State Park. With the addition of a new highway, Hempstead Lake State Park was a popular tourist spot for, Robert Moses added a bridle path, tennis courts and mini golf course, with all the new additions Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt even made a visit and met with park visitors.
From what started a reservoir for New York City, Hempstead Lake has now transformed into a beautiful park in the heart of Nassau County with the largest freshwater lake in the county, nestled between two major roads, the beautiful natural landscape takes you away from all of the that and brings you to a place of peace and tranquility. Whether it’s to fish at the lake, to take a walk on one of the many park trails or paddle a bit in the lake, Hempstead Lake State Park has something for everyone.