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Review: Book Celebrates Smithtown's Past and Present

A new book compares the Smithtown of yesterday to the Smithtown of today.

With Arcadia Publishing’s recent release Smithtown: Then & Now, readers can take a trip down memory lane and receive a brief history lesson on the town.

The book marks the second writing collaboration of Bradley Harris, Kiernan Lannon and Joshua Ruff. In 2009, Smithtown Historical Society’s executive director Lannon, museum curator Ruff and Smithtown historian Harris released Images of America: Smithtown. The paperback included many of the historical photos on file at the Smithtown Historical Society archives.

For this book, the team joined up with local photographer John DiGiacomo of Placid Times Photography. In the paperback, pictures recently captured by DiGiacomo are shown against historical photographs.

The captions for each subject were written by Harris, Lannon and Ruff. Digging through the information available to them at the historical society, as well as the Long Island Room at the Smithtown Library, they were able to choose important details for each of the points of interest included.

Starting with the front cover, readers will discover the significant changes in our town. The cover features photos of the bull statue today and the general store that once was located on the same spot.

Most of the photos are of Head of the River, Main Street and the area once referred to as Smithtown Branch. However, a few pictures from St. James, Commack, Nesconset, Kings Park and Hauppauge are also included.

Readers will find some familiar homes, landmarks, churches and waterside spots in the pages of Smithtown: Then & Now. DiGiacomo tried his best to capture the sites at the same angles as the original photos.

While most of the photos show the difference between a particular location between then and now, a few pictures focus on particular buildings that were moved. Included in the book is the Head of the River schoolhouse that served as a school until 1922 and was north of New Mill Road. Today it’s a private residence on Meadow Road.

With Main Street revitalization being an important topic in the last few years, many will find Chapter 5 of interest. Viewing both the old and new photos of Main Street, residents will be reminded of the main thoroughfare that once was and can be again.

While some charming structures may no longer exist in the town, the book provides evidence of improvements such as to our train station and the Smithtown Library. The writers and photographer made an effort to not only celebrate the town’s past, but also the progress we have seen.

Smithtown: Then & Now is available at the Smithtown Historical Society as well as amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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