The Village of East Hills has come a long way since its founding in 1931. Rising from the heights of the Depression, the village is the most populous one in the Roslyn area and the high point of its young existence came only in recent decades when the Air National Guard property closed down with the end of the Cold War, to be replaced by the spectacular Park At East Hills, a venue so successful that it has inspired similar projects in neighboring villages.
Village officials celebrated the anniversary with an art contest, one open to village residents. Natalie Mansbach was the chair of the day’s events, assisted by Trustee Stacey Siegel.
The big day, which was accompanied by perfect weather, included more than the many fine artwork submissions.
It was also a day to celebrate the village’s history and the eras in American history that it has lived through. Orin Finkle, a local historian, enlightened residents with a talk on the mansions and lifestyles of the Great Gatsby-era of the 1920s.
Also in the spirit of things, ballplayers dressed in old-fashioned uniforms to recreate the National Pastime as it was played in decades past.
There were pony rides and train rides for youngsters, actors and actresses who dressed in the styles of the day and the unveiling of both an historical mural and a photo exhibit celebrating the village’s 85 years.
Finally, Mayor Michael R. Koblenz, who has been the village’s chief executive since the early 1990s, was the recipient of a tribute commemorating his longtime service to the village.
“I am so very appreciative for the proclamations given me and the kind words,” the mayor said. “This day was a wonderful day for the community, and for me, personally.”
It was indeed 85 years ago that a handful of civic-minded North Shore residents met at the home of Robert H. Willets to launch the Village of East Hills, a name suggested by H. Stewart McKnight, a local attorney.
Willets was the first mayor of a village with all of 269 residents. It didn’t stay that way for long.
The Depression years were ones of slow growth and by 1940, only 343 people called the nascent little village home.
But with the postwar prosperity, the East Hills of today was born.
In the 1940s, the population exploded to 2,547 residents. Similarly, in the 1950s, that number expanded to 7,184. Since then, East Hills has remained a favored destination of young families.