Prompt # 4: Sense of Place in My Hometown

02 Dec

Over the past few weeks in both lecture and lab, I had the opportunity to explore the concept of sense of place (SOP) and the significant connection between “place attachment” and “place meaning” on the stewardship of natural resources and my own well-being. Because of this, I feel that it is a great opportunity to reflect on my relationship and SOP with my hometown of Sayville. Some questions I hope to answer during this reflection are: How have historic human interactions within Sayville shaped the landscape I encounter today? What role does the biophysical dimension play in creating a SOP where I live? And, how is my SOP influenced by the region in which it is being analyzed?


Sayville is a small village on the south shore of Long Island, NY. It is called “home” by about 12,000 residents and only 51 miles from Manhattan. It has a charming downtown and residential streets with cute Victorian homes. It currently brings in the majority of its revenue from summer tourism. However, it was not always this way. During the 1700s, there was an active commercial fishing economy on the south shore and eventually reached a point where Sayille was the “Oyster Capital of the World”. Fishermen would harvest eels, killies, clams, oysters, scallops, blue claw crabs, bait crabs, fluke and flounder. Not so far after, Sayville became a rather wealthy community. Many of the streets were paved with “sea gold” which were oyster shells. However, in 1985, the fishing economy began to decline due to brown tide, overfishing, and a series of hurricanes. Currently, only small communities of fishermen work on the bay for their livelihood (Moglia).


Unfortunately, there are only a few remnants of this iconic past left in the town. This is because many of the buildings and facilities used in the industry were located on the waterfront, which is a very desirable lot type for residential construction. As a result, as I walk through Sayville, one of the only reminders are plaques telling me that I am walking on gold (Dickerson). However, I believe that without the strong maritime industry many of the small shops and restaurants I go to every day would not be there



The biotic and abiotic factors of Sayville’s Landscape dramatically impacted, and continue to influence, the relationship I have with the area. Living right by the water allowed me to have many unique experiences and relationships that define my SOP. I vividly remember going down to the waterfront with all the kids on my street and playing in the water and going tubing and making sandcastles before going on the ferries to the national seashore. Without these memories, I don’t think I would have developed such a strong connection and even love for the place that I live. Even when I got older, I was mesmerized by the beauty the island displayed. My friends and I would go to the beaches and watch the sunset. Below is one of my favorite sunsets I ever saw.

My desire to know everything I could about the place I lived led me down a path of research on biotic factors. This ranged from Menidia menidia, a common tidal fish, to the climate change work with non-for-profits. Gaining knowledge on species that were specific to my area allowed me to feel a stronger sense of connection and therefore positive well-being.

Source: Brady G. Dolan
Source: Sayville Ferry Service Co.


Source: Save the Great South Bay

My sense of place changes depending on the scale with which it is analyzed. One can look at it based on the street I grew up, the schools I attended and even the entirety of Long Island.

Looking back on the street that I grew it has a very distinct feel and therefore a SOP like nowhere else. I know the name of every family on my block and the age of every kid. I also have a bunch of kids on my block (8 to be exact) that were in my graduating class. Therefore we grew up with one another. We created our own traditions and “secret clubs”. For that reason, that street has a very special place in my heart that brings back amazing memories.

The unique location of Sayville also creates its own sense of place. Being located on the south shore of Long Island allows for access to both forested areas and beaches. The people in many of my schools appear to have a balance just like the landscape. Many people have high-income jobs however, are also very relaxed and want to enjoy a day on the beach in the summer.


Dickerson, Charles P. A History of the Sayville Community, including Bayport, Bohemia, West Sayville, Oakdale, and Fire Island. S.l.: S.n., 1975.

Koehler, Erin. “Sayville, New York: The Happiest Town In America.” The Odyssey Online, The Odyssey Online, 17 Oct. 2019,

“Long Island- Sayville.” Save The Great South Bay, 4 Apr. 2017,

Moglia, David. “The Oyster Makes Its Mark on Sayville History.” Sayville-Bayport, NY Patch, Patch, 30 Sept. 2011,

“Oystermen at Work.” Sayville Library Home Page. Web. 29 Sept. 2011.


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