Franklin Square is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) in Nassau County, New York, United States. The population was 29,320 at the 2010 census. Franklin Square is an unincorporated area in the Town of Hempstead.
What is now Franklin Square was near the center of the Hempstead Plains, and used as grazing land, and later farmland, by the first white settlers. The southern portion included oak and dogwood forests.
In late 1643, Robert Fordham and John Carman made a treaty with members of the Massapequak, Mericoke, Matinecock and Rockaway tribes to buy roughly 100 square miles upon which they intended to start a new settlement. They purchased this tract, including much of what are now the towns of Hempstead and North Hempstead. The source of the name "Franklin Square" is unclear. It has been speculated that the name honors Benjamin Franklin, but he had no historical connection to the area. It has been suggested that it was named for some now-forgotten local settler or notable.
In 1790, George Washington passed through the town while touring Long Island. He wrote in his diary that the area was "entirely treeless except for a few scraggly fruit trees." Walt Whitman spent three months in the spring of 1840 as the schoolmaster of the Trimming Square school district, in the area where Franklin Square, Garden City South and West Hempstead intersect.
In 1852, one Louis Schroerer built a hotel near a tollgate (by what is now Arden Boulevard) of the Hempstead-Jamaica Turnpike (toll road). The hotel attracted an increasing number of visitors and immigrants (the latter often German) from New York City to the formerly-rural hamlet. Population grew steadily until the sudden intensified surge of suburbanization into post-World War II Long Island reached the village. By 1952, the farms were all gone, replaced by newly built houses full of emigrants from nearby New York City.
Franklin National Bank
Franklin Square was the home of the Franklin National Bank, once the nation's 20th largest bank. Under the leadership of Arthur T. Roth, the Franklin National Bank introduced many banking innovations, such as the bank credit card, the drive up teller window (1950), junior savings accounts (1947), and a no-smoking policy on banking floors (1958).
On October 8, 1974, the Franklin National Bank was declared insolvent due to mismanagement and fraud, involving losses in foreign currency speculation and poor loan policies. This caused massive losses for its stockholders, resulted in jail and disgrace for its management; Italian financier and CEO Michele Sindona was poisoned in his cell in 1986, while serving a life-sentence for his part in this affair. It was at the time the largest bank failure in the history of the country, and forced US banking policymakers to reexamine and reassess regulation of international banking.