The Setauket Indians, the first to live here, began selling the land to settlers in the mid-1600s. By the time of the Revolutionary War the village was home to many patriots, and during the War of 1812 the harbor was attacked. In 1836 the local residents named the village after Thomas Jefferson. Construction of a large dock began several years later.
Shipbuilding was Port Jefferson's major industry until the size and weight of ships required larger shipyards in the late 1800s. A passenger ferry that crosses Long Island Sound to Bridgeport, Connecticut, docks here. Across from the busy harbor you find a slew of restaurants, souvenir shops, antiques stores, and art galleries. Waterfront estates, charming Victorians, and old sea-captains' homes crowd its downtown. Along its cliffs lies some of the most cherished real estate on Long Island, including such posh neighborhoods as Belle Terre.