Way out at the edge of America, the seaside towns of Long Island's South Fork are connected by a meandering main road that dead-ends at the Atlantic at Montauk Point. Long Island born Walt Whitman watched the waters crash against the cliffs here and sang the praises of "the wild unrest, the snowy curling caps that inbound urge and urge of waves / Seeking the shores forever."
Definitive Hamptons towns include Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Southampton, Amagansett, the sleepy old whaling village of Sag Harbor, and a lot of little places in between. Shelter Island sits there, buttoned up and sublimely calm between the North and South Forks; next to its more show-offy neighbors. Montauk is more flinty than posh, a throwback to the kind of working fishing village all these towns used to be.
For more than two centuries, the Hamptons have been home to a vibrant community of artists and writers, lured by the golden dunes, refreshing breezes, radiant landscapes, and frequent visits from the Muse. It was here that Winslow Homer painted bathers and strollers on the ocean beach and Lee Krasner created her Earth Series in a cramped studio shared with her husband, Jackson Pollock. From Herman Melville to F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck to George Plimpton, these are just a few of the gifted figures to draw inspiration from this famous and fashionable retreat.
The roster of East End artists and writers is endless and includes Willem de Kooning, Larry Rivers and Jackson Pollock. A New York Times article recounts the names of famous East End writers and artists, then went on to talk about a new wave coming to the Hamptons, “They are young and old, eccentric and straight-laced. They paint canvases in oil, sculptured stone and metal, mix watercolors and take photographs. They write novels, novellas, poetry, travelogues, science fiction, non-fiction and articles for major newspapers and literary reviews.”
What exactly are “The Hamptons?” The Hamptons encompasses a group of towns, villages, and hamlets scattered along the eastern end of Long Island, New York, about two-and-a-half hours by car from New York City. The Hamptons are known for their beaches, farms, golf clubs, and equestrian events, and are a highly popular seaside resort for residents of the New York region. Much of the area is a magnet for those who summer on spacious estates nestled along the Atlantic Ocean or hidden behind tall hedgerows. But while many visitors here are wealthy, not all are. New Yorkers of varying ages and tax brackets come to visit areas like Montauk, Noyack, and Westhampton, and enjoy the ocean breezes, white sand beaches, excellent seafood, and rural atmosphere of the East End.
The Hamptons lie on the far southeastern end of New York’s Long Island — known as the South Fork — about 80 miles from Manhattan. Starting on the western edge, the Hamptons begin at Westhampton and Westhampton Dunes, and extend east for nearly 50 miles through Southampton, Water Mill, Bridgehampton, Sagaponack, Wainscott, East Hampton, Amagansett, and finally, Montauk, at the very eastern end of Long Island.
The North Fork of Long Island, stretching from Riverhead to Greenport to Orient, offers a similarly rural, relaxed environment as the Hamptons, but is usually considered a distinct area. Offering many unique charms, the North Fork is less developed and less exclusive than much of Long Island’s South Fork. North Fork beaches also front Long Island Sound or Peconic Bay, rather than the Atlantic Ocean.
The Hamptons offer a mix of oceanside location, rural atmosphere, historic charm, and exclusivity, all at a convenient distance from New York City. From New York, the Hamptons are an easy trip via train, private car, bus service like the Hampton Jitney, or helicopter. But while the people and the atmosphere of the Hamptons bear some similarity to New York, the area feels much more easygoing and personable than the city.
There’s an East End home for every style and budget. Reach out to Atelier WM to navigate your prospective home among the widest selection of rental and sale properties in the Hamptons and North Fork.
Too much of anything is a bad thing, but too much champagne is just rightF. Scott Fitzgerald
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