Great Neck Online
Great Neck & The Great Gatsby
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 10)

For more information about Fitzgerald, I strongly recommend you explore the F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary Home Page at the University of South Carolina.



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page last modified: tue dec 20 18:26:03 2005