The Town of Oyster Bay is easternmost of the three towns in Nassau County, New York, in the United States. Part of the New York metropolitan area, it is the only town in Nassau County that extends from the North Shore to the South Shore of Long Island. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 293,214.
There are 18 villages and 18 hamlets within the town of Oyster Bay. The U.S. Postal Service has organized these 36 places into 30 different 5-digit ZIP codes served by 20 different post offices. Each post office has the same name as a hamlet or village, but the boundaries are seldom the same.
Oyster Bay is also the name of a hamlet on the north shore, within the town of Oyster Bay. Near this hamlet, in the village of Cove Neck, is Sagamore Hill, the former residence and summer White House of Theodore Roosevelt and now a museum. At least six of the 36 villages and hamlets of the town have shores on Oyster Bay Harbor, an inlet of Long Island Sound, and many of these at one time or another have also been referred to as being part of the hamlet of Oyster Bay.
Succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples had lived in the area for thousands of years. At the time of European contact, the Lenape (Delaware) nation inhabited western Long Island. By 1600 the band inhabiting the local area was called the Matinecock after their location, but they were Lenape people.
Following European colonization, the area became part of the colony of New Netherland. In 1639, the Dutch West India Company made its first purchase of land on Long Island from the local Native Americans. The English also had colonies on Long Island at this time. The Dutch did not dispute English claims to what is now Suffolk County, but when settlers from New England arrived in (present-day) Oyster Bay in 1640, they were soon arrested as part of a boundary dispute. In 1643, Englishmen purchased land in the present-day town of Hempstead from the Indians that included land purchased by the Dutch in 1639. Nevertheless, in 1644, the Dutch director granted a patent for Hempstead to the English.
The Dutch also granted other English settlements in Flushing, Newtown, and Jamaica. In 1650, the Treaty of Hartford established a boundary between Dutch and English claims at "Oysterbay", by which the Dutch meant present-day Cold Spring Harbor (to the east) and the English meant all of the water connected to present-day Oyster Bay Harbor. Meanwhile, the government of England came under the control of Oliver Cromwell as a republic, and smugglers took advantage of the unresolved border dispute. In 1653, English settlers made their first purchase of land in Oyster Bay from the local Matinecock tribe, though there were already some rogue English settlements there. The monarchy was restored in England in 1660, and in 1664 King Charles gave Long Island (and much else) to his brother James, leading to the Dutch relinquishing control of all of New Amsterdam.
In 1667 the settlement at Oyster Bay received its charter from the new English colony of New York, becoming the Township of Oyster Bay. By 1687, the last piece of land was sold by the Indians, and few remained by 1709.
During most of the American Revolution the town was under the control of English forces. The town was originally part of Queens County, until the western portion of that county was amalgamated into New York City in 1898 and Nassau County was created in 1899. In 1918 Glen Cove, to the west, incorporated as a city and formed a governing system separate from the town. Following World War II, housing replaced farmland as the population grew from about 40,000 in 1950 to more than 290,000 in 1990.
Oyster Bay is home to the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, one of the oldest yacht clubs in the Western Hemisphere, which opened in 1871. There are 40 buildings and sites presently named Town of Oyster Bay Landmarks.