Westhampton Beach was settled in 1666 as part of Quogue Purchase. The town remained relatively isolated until 1870 when a railroad stop was established. The inception of the railroad began Westhampton Beach's tourism industry, which started with providing lodging to travelers. The area's agriculture diminished and farmland was sold to create residences and hotels. The first residence built by Phineas T. Barnum was the Howell House, located on the corner of Beach Road and Main Street.
Westhampton Beach survived the Great Hurricane of 1938. The hurricane started off the coast of Africa and then made its way to the Bahamas. Labeled as a category 5, the hurricane moved north towards Norfolk, VA where it was downgraded to a category 3. Weather trackers predicted it would then move northeast, out to sea but were proven wrong when the hurricane moved due north towards Long Island and the rest of New England.
The hurricane made contact with Long Island on Sept. 21, 1938. It had winds reporting up to 180 mph, created 30-50 ft waves that crashed down on the shoreline, and created storm tides of 14-18 ft across Long Island. The strong winds and rain destroyed numerous communities, even submerging downtown Westhampton Beach under 8 ft of water.
As a result of the extreme force of the hurricane, the geography of Long Island was changed forever. The two most dramatic changes were the creation of the Shinnecock Inlet and the widening of the Moriches Inlet. Although much of the eastern end of Long Island was destroyed, not to mention the extensive damage in the rest of New England, there was one positive outcome to the devastation.
Westhampton Beach, incorporated in 1928, is located in the town of Southampton and is situated about 78 miles east of NYC. Considered the center of activity, Westhampton Beach has excellent schools, high-end retail stores, restaurants, and is home of the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.