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The Town of Hempstead, historically known as South Hempstead, is the largest of the three towns in Nassau County (alongside North Hempstead and Oyster Bay) in the U.S. state of New York. It occupies the southwestern part of the county, on the western half of Long Island. Twenty-two incorporated villages (one of which is named Hempstead) are completely or partially within the town. The town's combined population was 759,757 at the 2010 census, which is the majority of the population of the county and by far the largest of any town in New York. In 2019, its combined population increased to an estimated 759,793 according to the American Community Survey.
If Hempstead were to be incorporated as a city, it would be the second-largest city in New York, behind New York City; it is about three times the size of Buffalo, which has long been the state's second-largest city. It would be the 18th-largest city in the country, behind San Francisco, California, and ahead of Seattle, Washington. Hempstead is thus the most populous municipality in the New York metropolitan area outside New York City.
Hofstra University's main campus is located in the Town of Hempstead.
The town was first settled around 1644 following the establishment of a treaty between English colonists, John Carman and Robert Fordham, and the Lenape Indians in 1643. Although the settlers were from the English colony of Connecticut, a patent was issued by the government of New Netherland after the settlers had purchased land from the local natives. This transaction is depicted in a mural in the Hempstead Village Hall, reproduced from a poster commemorating the 300th anniversary of Hempstead Village.
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