"Taking Long Island as a unit of space which has for lung ages been on the border line between land and sea, Professor Gabriel shows clearly how human development in the region has been controlled very largely by the same cosmic circumstances responsible for the type of vegetation and native animal life."
-"Technical Book Review Index," Volumes 6-7 
* * * * *
From the Foreword.
The problem of the present study is to trace the development of a people as it has been affected, not only by its social and economic, but by its natural surroundings. Long Island is a definite entity, with boundaries fixed and easily determined. On every side the sea washes its shores. It is not, however, an oceanic island, isolated in the midst of one of the broad seas. It is a fragment of the North American continent, and its life is inextricably intermingled with that of the greater land body. Lying off the Atlantic coast of the United States it is, in reality, a part of that eastern coast zone which stretches back from the water's edge to the ridges of the Appalachians. Like every such coastal region, it is a transition zone between the two dominant forms of the earth's surface, the land and the sea.
Long Island, however, is not a typical coastal area with the sea on one side and the hinterland on the other. In this region the influence of both of these factors is greatly intensified. The ocean, literally surrounding the Island and asserting its mastery in a multitude of coves, bays, and harbors, would seem to be in a fair position to dominate the life of the region. But Long Island is set down in an unusual position. Three gateways open into the broad interior of America, the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence, and the Hudson-Mohawk valleys. The first is far from Europe and the second is icebound during parts of the year. It is the Hudson, the central gateway, therefore, that, working through a system of lakes, canals, and railways, taps the limitless resources of the heart of the North American continent. It is this hinterland, acting through the metropolis which it has created at the entrance to the greatest of the three gateways, that contends with the encircling sea for the mastery of Long Island. These are the giant gamesters that play at moving hither and thither the kings, queens, castles, and pawns in the great game that is still unfinished. The story of this game is the problem of these pages....show more