Aerial Photos of Brentwood, commissioned by Gordon Taylor

Collection Owner:
Cover Image:
Detail of photo 61962 showing local development.
Detail of photo 61962 showing local development.

Collection Facts


Historical Context

The photographs in this collection were taken on June 28, 1960 by Skyviews, New York. They capture a moment of population growth, development, and the transformation of a more-or-less rural community into a thoroughly suburban hamlet. 

At this time, Ross High School, opened in 1957 to serve the growing community, was expanding, with a new adjacent branch being planned and opened four years later. Pilgrim State Psychiatric institute was then the largest mental hospital in the world; the hope of employment attracted many new residents to Brentwood, including a burgeoning Puerto Rican demographic. The vast farms of Pilgrim are partly captured in several of the images. What had been, only a few decades previously, a swath of pine trees punctuated by farms now saw lines of new developments - classic single-family homes with new automobiles in the driveways.  

The detail from photo number 61962 illustrating the collection gives a powerful example of how this collection captures a unique moment in time. In the upper part of the photo we see the grounds of Brentwood High School. North, across the street is the famous Brentwood water tower – demolished in 2014. South of the Ross campus meanwhile we find a vast undeveloped area. In 1964, part of this area would be developed into a second school adjacent Ross: Sonderling Senior High School. In 2000, thanks to the efforts of concerned residents, the remaining forest was designated as protected by the town of Islip as the Bishop Tract preserve. 

Scope of Collection

Fourteen aerial photographs of Brentwood as well as photograph relating to the theme and commissioner of the photos, Gordon Taylor.  Islip town councilman Gordon Taylor commissioned the photos in 1960. The collection was donated to the Brentwood Public Library by his daughter Jeanne Taylor in May 2024.