History & Culture
Settled in the early 1700s, Sag Harbor’s historical bona fides are many. It served as a stage for the American Revolutionary War, with one of its hills becoming a battleground that saw British casualties and the capture of 90 British soldiers. Long Island’s first custom house was built in Sag Harbor, and the harbor itself played a role in the War of 1812. And so on. As the first port of entry of the U.S., Sag Harbor emerged as a hotbed of social vitality and thriving interaction where various kinds of people — soldiers, seamen, merchants, and artistic types — freely mixed. John Steinbeck was perhaps the village’s most famous literary resident of the 20th century; novelist E.L. Doctorow (Ragtime) and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson also lived here. Sag Harbor’s well-respected nonprofit Bay Street Theater, founded in 1991, continues to nurture the town’s arts-and-letters reputation, as do the readings at Canio’s Books, which has been around since 1980.