Wantagh is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) in the Town of Hempstead inNassau County on Long Island, New York, United States. The population of Wantagh was 18,871 at the time of the 2010 census.Wantagh is known as "The Gateway to Jones Beach".
The Wantagh area was inhabited by the Merokee (or Merikoke) tribe of the Metoac Indians prior to the first wave of European settlement in the mid-17th century. The Merokee were part of the greater Montauk tribe that loosely ruled Long Island's Native Americans. Wantagh was originally known as "Jerusalem", although some early accounts do refer to the area as "Wantagh". The creek running north/south through Wantagh, and which has been covered up in many places but is still visible between the Wantagh Parkway and the housing developments west of Wantagh Avenue, was originally the Jerusalem River. The original post office was built in 1837, for Jerusalem, but mail service fromBrooklyn began around 1780. The town's first school was established in 1790. At some time around the 1880s, Jerusalem was renamed Ridgewood, and the town's original LIRR station was named "Ridgewood Station". Later, Ridgewood was renamed Wantagh to avoid confusion with another town in New York State with the same name.