As everyone who lives in Great Neck knows, F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in
Great Neck, at six Gateway Drive in Great Neck Estates -- probably the
Great Neck's greatest claim to fame. He lived here, in the 1920s, in a
modest house, not dis-similar to that of Nick, the protagonist of his
novel, The Great Gatsby. It is said that Fitzgerald modeled West
Egg -- the fictional town in which Nick lives, next to the mansion of Jay
Gatsby, the epitome of Nouveau Riche gaudiness -- after his own Great Neck
and the atmosphere and lifestyle there; and he modeled East Egg, the town
where Daisy and Tom live, after Great Neck's eastern neighbor, Port
Washington, or, more specifically, Sands Point.
Fitzgerald's description of West Egg is the perfect summary of Great Neck,
both then and now; some things just don't change. The home of the New
Money -- what has changed is who the New Money is -- and their
showy mansions and late-night galas; the minute drive before entering the
still run-down Queens; the magnificent view across the Sound to
Connecticut. Here's Fitzgerald giving a physical description Great Neck,
umm, West Egg.
It was a matter of chance that I should have rented a house in one of the
strangest communities in North America. It was on that slender riotous
island which extends itself due east of New York -- and where there are,
among other natural curiosities, two unusual formations of land. Twenty
miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and
separated only by a courtesy bay, jut out into the most domesticated body
of salt water in the Western hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long
Island Sound. They are not perfect ovals -- like egg in the Columbus
story, they are both crushed flat at the contact end -- but their physical
resemblance must be a source of perpetual wonder to the gulls that fly
overhead. To the windless a more interesting phenomenon is their
dissimilarity in every particular except shape and size.
(The Great Gatsby, Penguin, London, 1950, first published 1926, pg
For more information about Fitzgerald, I strongly recommend you explore
the F. Scott
Fitzgerald Centenary Home Page at the University of South Carolina.