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Rockville Centre has been occupied by humans for thousands of years. Generally speaking, the people of the prehistoric Woodlands period East River culture are believed to have been the Algonkian-speaking ancestors of the historical Indian tribes of western Long Island. The historical territory of their Lenape descendants, the Canarsie, Recouwacky (Rockaway), Matinecock and Massapequa, included present-day western Long Island's Queens and Nassau Counties.
By the year 1643, there were roughly thirteen Algonquin bands (then referred to as tribes) living east of the Dutch-English settlements: the four or so Lenape chieftaincies in western Long Island, and Metoac descendants of the prehistoric Woodlands period Windsor culture living on eastern Long Island, considered by some to be branches of the Pequot: Merrick, Nissequoge, Secatoag, Seatauket, Patchoag, Poosepatuck (also called Uncachogee), Corchaug, Shinnecock, Manhasset and Montaukett.
Imported diseases had decimated the natives in 16th century. While disease was still a major factor during the decades of the 17th century, native mortality in western Long Island due to disease was similar to that of the settlers. Most Lenape were pushed out of their homeland by expanding European colonies; the colonies received many emigrants while the Munsee-speaking Indian communities did not. Their dire situation was exacerbated by losses from intertribal conflicts.
The Reckouakie tribe (the Reckonhacky chieftaincy) had left their original land in present-day Rockaway and its surroundings in Queens County to Dutch Governor Kieft in 1640 because he wanted it for better defense of New Netherlands. Most settled to the east in what was to become Rockville Centre on the traditional land of the Matinecock (or of the Massapequa), with whom they had ties of kinship. Dutch and English settlers declared the 1639 treaty meant no Indians would remain in western Long Island (so they could sell it to emigrants), in contrast to the exact terms of the treaty which meant the Native Americans were willing to share the usufruct of unoccupied land, with the Dutch leadership having eminent domain superior to their sachem's eminent domain. This led to many conflicts then four years of open warfare. The Reckonhacky / Rockaway were party to a peace treaty dated May 24, 1645 following the devastation of Indian communities by Dutch soldiers. Violent expropriation dislocated them with the arrival of additional Dutch and English settlers.
The hamlet was named "Rockville Centre" in 1849, after local Methodist preacher and community leader Mordecai "Rock" Smith. It was incorporated as a village in 1893. Rockville Centre emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as a commuter town connected to New York by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). In 1915, the New York Tribune went so far as to declare that Rockville Centre was a place in which "the average mortal could live happily."
Like many Long Island communities at the time, Rockville Centre's population included a considerable number of supporters of the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s. When the white supremacist organization placed a wreath at the town's memorial to its war dead in 1923, the American Legion removed it in protest, but the city police received so many calls of complaint in response that they were forced to replace the wreath. In the late 1960s, the village of Rockville Centre received a stinging rebuke for its failure to maintain public housing units primarily inhabited by African-Americans. A report from Nassau County's Human Rights Commission stated Rockville Centre was "at best indifferent to, if not actually in favor of, Negro removal." Martin Luther King Jr. visited Rockville Centre in 1968, where he addressed a large audience at South Side Junior High School on March 26, 1968.
There are 9,201 households, of which 33.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.1% are married couples living together, 9.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 29.7% are non-families. 26.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.64 and the average family size is 3.25. The population is spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 25.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 40 years. For every 100 women there are 87.9 men. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there are 81.9 men.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the village is $99,299, and the median income for a family is $128,579. Males have a median income of $70,149 versus $43,800 for females. The per capita income for the village is $40,739. 5.0% of the population and 2.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 7.0% of those under the age of 18 and 5.7% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
At the time of the census of 2010, there were 24,111 people residing in the village, 9,201 households and 6,468 families. The population density is 7,496.5 people per square mile (2,892.0/km2). There are 9,419 housing units at an average density of 2,874.0 per square mile (1,108.7/km2); as of 2010[update],. The racial makeup of the village is 78.3% White, 8.6% Black or African American, 9.7% Hispanic or Latino, 0.1% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.0% Asian alone, 0.0% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 0.1% Some Other Race, and 1.2% Two or More Races.
There are 10,002 households, of which 32.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% are married couples living together, 9.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% are non-families. 27.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 32.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.64 and the average family size is 3.28. The population is spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 25.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 40 years. For every 100 women there are 87.9 men. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there are 81.9 men.
U.S. Census Map
Rockville Centre is located at 40°39'48" North, 73°38'13" West (40.663390, -73.636831). The village has a total area of 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2), of which, 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it is water. The total area is 2.38% water.
Rockville Centre students attend the Rockville Centre U.F.S.D., the Oceanside U.F.S.D.,and Baldwin U.F.S.D.
According to www.schooldigger.com, South Side High School ranks 116th out of 752 schools in New York State. This is based on actual test scores. ,
In 2012, South Side High School was ranked #22 by U.S. News & World Report's Best High Schools, and #2 in the state of NY. It has also consistently rated in Newsweek's The Top of the Class: The complete list of the 1,300 top U.S. Schools, #42 in 2008, #44 in 2007, #32 in 2006, #45 in 2005 and #65 in 2003.
Approximately 20 percent of the residents of the Village of Rockville Centre live in the Oceanside Union Free School District. Rockville Centre students attend Oceanside School #2 and Oceanside School #5 as well as the Oceanside Middle School and Oceanside High School and some live in the Baldwin School District attending Plaza Elementary School, Baldwin Middle School, and Baldwin High School in Baldwin, NY
Rockville Centre has one private K-8 Catholic day school; The Saint Agnes Cathedral School. The Saint Agnes Cathedral School occupies a single campus. The Saint Agnes Cathedral School provides a day school education for Kindergarten through Eighth Grade for families across Nassau County. The Saint Agnes Cathedral School's upper school (9-12), though now defunct, shared the complex at one time. The school is widely regarded for their consistently high-rated academic program among Long Island private schools, as well as their diverse secondary school placement.
Notable current and former residents of Rockville Centre include:
AJ Wynder, basketball player for 1990-91 Boston Celtics.
In popular culture
The third season episode Long Island, of Dave Attell's television show Insomniac featured several locales in Rockville Centre, including Stinger's Irish Pub, the LIRR station, and the comedian's home.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. Rockville Centre is mentioned as the home-destination of both Joel Barish (Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski (Winslet) when the two play hooky from work to visit Montauk.
Edward Burns has filmed scenes of several of his films in Rockville Centre.
^Leggett, William. "Bioperse: Top Jockey Eddie Arcaro", Sports Illustrated, June 17, 1957. Accessed January 6, 2017. "Today he lives in his tastefully furnished home in Rockville Centre, on New York's Long Island, together with his wife (the former Ruth Mishkell) and their two children, Carolyn, 15, and Bobby, 13 (see picture above)."
^Valk, Garry. "Letter from the Publisher", Sports Illustrated, October 24, 1966. Accessed January 6, 2017. "With Whit Tower still in PAris after his coverage of the Arc de Triomphe, Pete was a natural choice to report the Big A's Champagne Stakes (page 28). He knows Aqueduct well, although his heart still hungers for the verdant Belmont Park (when he was growing up in Rockville Centre, N.Y., he spent a lot of time at Belmont, where he began betting horses at the age of 16)."
^Kerry Keating, CSTV. Accessed November 17, 2007. "Keating was born on July 15, 1971 in Stoughton, Mass., and was raised in Rockville Centre, N.Y. He attended high school at Archbishop Molloy and graduated from Seton Hall Prep."
^Howard SternArchived December 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Newsday. Accessed December 4, 2007. "That was the last straw. In June, 1969, when Howard was 15, the Sterns made their move - to predominantly white, middle-class Rockville Centre."