New York 4th District
By the mid-20th century, Nassau County had changed from being almost entirely rural to being almost entirely suburban. One of its first suburbs was Garden City, with its wide avenues and single-family homes. It was founded in 1869 by New York City retailer A.T. Stewart at a time when urban planners were urging that new communities retain the commercial vitality and social interaction of the city within a setting that preserved the healthful openness of the countryside. After World War II, freeways replaced highways, and shopping centers sprang up at intersections. But many of the middle- and upper-income residents there continue to depend on the Long Island Railroad to speed them to jobs in New York City. Garden City has maintained high real estate prices and is surrounded by some of Nassau County’s key institutions: the county seat of Mineola; Hofstra University in Hempstead; and Roosevelt Field, where Charles Lindbergh took off for Paris (it’s now a shopping center). In November 2008, officials announced plans to turn the former Northrup-Grumman complex in Bethpage into a high-technology industrial site.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 4th Congressional District of New York comprises Garden City and the towns around it. The district takes in several suburbs just north of the Jericho Turnpike—New Hyde Park, Mineola, Westbury—as well as a large swath of southern Nassau County east of the Queens County line. This territory includes Hempstead, Uniondale, Rockville Center, and ethnically diverse Valley Stream, as well as the “Five Towns”—the railway suburbs of Lawrence, Inwood, Cedarhurst, Hewlett, and Woodmere—many of which have more elementary and high school students in private schools (mostly yeshivas) than in public schools. Nassau County has traditionally been Republican, and both Garden City and heavily Catholic East Meadow remain that way. But the Five Towns are heavily Democratic, and more than a third of the district’s residents are African-Americans or Hispanics who generally vote Democratic. Elmont, near the Queens line and once heavily white, now has a large Caribbean and Latin American population. The traditional Republican heritage in the 4th District is becoming a dim memory. The county legislature is now led by a Democratic majority, something that would have seemed unimaginable just a few decades ago. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama won easily here in 2008.