Lay of the Land: Cold Spring Harbor is a tiny former whaling village on the North Shore, between the larger towns of Huntington and Oyster Bay. It is, perhaps, most famous for its genetics lab, where Barbara McClintock grew her corn and Drs. Watson and Crick first happened upon DNA. (Watson still lives in the area.) The village itself feels more like Sag Harbor than North Shore, with Victorian-style captain’s homes and a busy little waterfront. A fabulous collection of Colonial clapboards lines Harbor Road, which runs out of the village; and up Snake Hill Road are grand, Gilded Age, Gatsby-esque estates.
Meet the Neighbors: Don’t come here looking for creative types—Cold Spring Harbor has more of a Cheever thing going on: trench-coats-on-the-platform and dinghy sailing in the harbor. “There are some business executives and some doctors, and then everyone else is in finance, everyone, and everyone’s children,” says Peggy Richling, who has lived in Cold Spring Harbor for 24 years. “We had a professor, but he moved.”
Way in? A lot of the social life centers on the area’s private beaches and golf clubs, though charities—like the Holiday House, a summer camp for underprivileged girls just outside town—are popular, too. Soccer, lacrosse, and crew are huge out here, and a lot of parents volunteer as weekend coaches.
Needful things: “Come here at Christmas, and you’ll really feel like you’re living Currier & Ives,” says Richling. There’s no movie theater and there are only a few small cafés, but Cold Spring Harbor’s got the market cornered on scented candles and dollhouse furniture, and you can certainly find a Lilly Pulitzer something in one of Main Street’s dress shops, where the only chain is (natch) a Talbots. ÒThere is no supermarket, no cleaners, no anything functional. Everywhere else has a strip mall; we have no strip mall,” sniffs one resident. Not to worry: Huntington Village, where you can find everything practical, is only a few minutes away.
School Report: School District Two is among the most desirable in the state, with high teacher-student ratios and per-student expenditures. (The town spends $14,072 per pupil.) The average SAT score is 1219. The town’s junior and senior high schools are combined at Cold Spring Harbor High School, which has 850 students in the six grades; last year, 94 percent of the graduating class enrolled in a four-year college, with 11 percent matriculating in the Ivy League.
Commute: Cold Spring Harbor is 35 miles from midtown Manhattan. The ride to Penn Station takes an hour on the Long Island Railroad. Monthly LIRR passes are $181.
Realtors: Margy Hargraves and Peggy Moriarty at the Daniel Gale Agency (631-692-2462).
See also: Cold Spring Harbor Web Guide