With the 21st century's own Roaring Twenties creeping ever closer, the celebrated 20th century version has been enjoying something of a resurgence. Since Baz Luhrmann's take on The Great Gatsby hit cinemas last year there's been no shortage of flapper-inspired fashion, but to truly revive that old-world glamour, you'll need to take a trip to the location that was once its epicentre: Long Island.
Jutting out from New York Harbour into the Atlantic Ocean, half of Long island is taken up with official New York City counties Brooklyn and Queens, while the other half is made up of quieter Nassau and Suffolk. The latter two counties have long been a favoured weekend getaway destination for New Yorkers, and in the 1920s famously played host to millionaire playboys and Manhattan socialites.
The Gold Coast of Long Island sits to the north, facing Connecticut and Rhode Island across an estuary known as the Long Island Sound. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived in the Great Neck peninsula here for almost two years during the twenties. There’s very little doubt that the area, particularly Sand’s Point and King’s Point, inspired the backdrop for The Great Gatsby.
The best way to see the sites believed to be the real-life equivalents of East Egg and West Egg is from the water. The Great Gatsby Boat Tour around the bay offers an interesting insight into the Roaring Twenties as well as giving visitors an excellent overview of the prime real estate on the waterfront. It’s easy to imagine Gatsby throwing his lavish parties in any one of the mansions, many of which are now owned by business moguls and media stars.
However, the modern incarnations of Jay, Daisy and Tom are perhaps most likely to be found in the Hamptons, a collection of small towns and villages at the furthest point of the island. The wide sandy beaches and impressive real estate have turned it into a millionaires' playground: the Clintons enjoy vacations there, entertaining guests like Paul McCartney in their rental property, while fashion designer Calvin Klein has spent ten years perfecting and building his minimalist dream house.
The Hamptons isn't exactly lacking in high-end restaurants and designer boutiques, but the main attraction remains the natural beauty of its coastline. Montauk, on the very tip of Long Island, is a popular surfing destination that has a more laid-back feel than some other communities but still attracts its share of celebrities. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin own a holiday home in the area, while superstar DJ Mark Ronson has been spotted DJing at hotel pool parties.
If you’re planning on joining New York’s socialites by adding a Long Island property to your portfolio, get in touch with Engel & Völkers. We have a shop in Locust Valley and our real estate agents have a wealth of experience in the local property market. Whether you’re looking for a second home or a summer rental investment property, we can offer our expert help and advice every step of the way.