Greenport Harbor is a village within the Town of Southold in Suffolk County on northeastern Long Island. Located on the north fork of Long Island, Greenport Harbor is just 1.5 kilometers (less than a mile) from Shelter Island. Greenport Harbor is 99 nautical miles (94 kilometers or 58 miles) southwest of the Port of Newport in Rhode Island. Greenport Harbor is about 154 nautical miles (157 kilometers or 98 miles direct) east-northeast of the Port of New York. In 2010, almost 2200 people lived in Greenport Harbor.
In the past, Greenport Harbor was an important port with a vigorous fishing and whaling industry. Today, there are a few commercial fishing vessels based in Greenport Harbor, and tourism has become an important part of the local economy.
The indigenous Mohegans lived in the future Greenport Harbor area when Europeans first arrived in the 17th Century. The Mohegans were a clan of the Lenape, or Delaware, Nation. Like other native peoples, the Mohegans were decimated by European diseases like smallpox. European settlers also reduced the land and food resources available to the Greenport Harbor Mohegans, forcing them to migrate north to Connecticut and join the Pequots.
The high chief, or Sachem, of the Wolf Clan, during the 1600s, Uncas was aware of the losses that came from fighting Europeans, and he befriended the English. That alliance kept the Mohegans safe from King Philip's War. Samson Occum led the people during the 1700s. Having become a Christian, Occum established a Christian Indian School that eventually became Dartmouth College. Occum's Christianity made it possible for the Mohegans to avoid relocation that befell many other tribes.
The Mohegans won recognition from the federal government as a sovereign nation in 1994. Today, many of the Mohegan people live on their reservation in New London County, Connecticut, but some bands still live outside the reservation.
In 1640, Barnabus Horton and companions sailed from England to arrive at Greenport Harbor. The first recorded properties belonged to the Young family who operated a busy wharf that received ships from the Caribbean and South America during the era of the American Revolution.
Greenport Harbor was incorporated as part of Southold in 1838. From the early 1800s until the end of World War II, Greenport Harbor produced more than 550 ships. From 1795 until 1859, Greenport Harbor was an important whaling port with 24 whaling vessels based there. During World War I, the Greenport Basin and Construction Company built ships for the Russian and United States Navy. During World War II, the shipyard constructed mine sweepers and landing craft. Also during World War II, Greenport Harbor was a base for the Picket Patrol, a fleet of wooden sailboats that patrolled far offshore for German submarines.
In the middle 19th Century, Greenport Harbor's fishing industry prospered. A local fish-processing plant made oil and fertilizer from the herring that were harvested. In the first half of the 1900s, oystering was a major industry in Greenport Harbor, with about 14 oyster processing companies located there.
As a terminal for the Long Island Railroad, Greenport Harbor contributed much to the commercial development on Long Island. Local farmers used the trains to get their harvests of cauliflower and potatoes to the west. From 1844, Greenport Harbor was a terminal for steam-powered ferries that transported people to Stonington, Connecticut, where they connected with Boston trains. The railway also connected New York City to the rest of New England through the ferries in Greenport Harbor.
Greenport Harbor contributed to the victory of Harold S. Vanderbilt's Enterprise (1930), Rainbow (1934), and Ranger (1939) in winning the America's Cup. Captain George Monsell and crew from Greenport Harbor manned the ships that sailed to victory.