Cold Spring Harbor was originally named Cold Spring because of the naturally cold freshwater springs that flowed (and still flow) in the area. Its economy mainly tied to milling and port activities, it rose in prominence as a whaling village in the mid-nineteenth century. After the decline of whaling in the 1860s, it became a resort town with several hotels. In the 20th century it became known as the site of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, although the laboratory itself is located in the adjacent hamlet of Laurel Hollow in Nassau County. Today it is primarily a bedroom community of New York City, with a small central business area running along Route 25A, and is home to many educational and cultural organizations: The Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, The Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery and Aquarium, Dolan DNA Learning Center, the Uplands Farm Sanctuary (home of the Nature Conservancy’s Long Island chapter), and a gallery run by the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. Its local school district is among the best in the country ranked at 71st as of 2008.
Notable current residents
- James D. Watson, Nobel Prize winner, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, and former Chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Notable former residents
- Al Arbour lived in Cold Spring Harbor during his coaching career with the New York Islanders. He moved in 1999, some years after his retirement
- Cablevision CEO James L. Dolan graduated in 1974 from Cold Spring Harbor High School.
- Sylvia Foley, author of the critically acclaimed “Life in the Air Ocean,” graduated from Cold Spring Harbor High School in 1972.
- Otto Kahn built his home there with his own private golf course. The Golf course was sold off and is now Cold Spring Country Club.
- Lindsay Lohan spent a portion of her childhood and teen years in Cold Spring Harbor. She attended Cold Spring Harbor High School until her Sophomore year of high school.
- Kathleen M. Sullivan, a leading scholar in American constitutional law and Professor at Stanford Law School, was valedictorian at her graduation from Cold Spring Harbor High School in 1972.
- Wally Szczerbiak, NBA basketball player who is currently a free agent, attended Cold Spring Harbor High School.
- Evan Thomas, journalist, editor and author, grew up in Cold Spring Harbor.
- Daniel Mandell, Director of Digital for Wenner Media, publisher of Rolling Stone, Us Weekly, and Men’s Journal, grew up in Cold Spring Harbor and attended Cold Spring Harbor High School.
- Randall Tolson, a craftsman and clockmaker, known for a series of highly collectible memorial clocks, lived in Cold Spring Harbor until he died in 1954.
- Billy Joel, pianist, singer and songwriter once lived in the adjacent town of Lloyd’s Neck. A park has been built in his name adjacent to the shore in Cold Spring Harbor.
- Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay, grew up in Lloyd Harbor, adjacent to Cold Spring Harbor, and attended Cold Spring Harbor High School, graduating in 1973.
- Ryan Vesce, Player for the San Jose Sharks in the NHL, grew up in Lloyd Harbor, adjacent to Cold Spring Harbor, and attended Cold Spring Harbor High School