Many of us can recall perusing a Guinness World Records book in awe as a child – or even as an adult – and learning about the most wondrous and wackiest feats made by humankind. But did you know that quite a few of these records have local ties?
Here is a list of 14 Guinness World Records set on Long Island or set by a Long Islander.
Long Island in the Guinness World Records books
Back in June 1899, a man named Charles Minthorn “Mile-a-Minute” Murphy became the first person to ever cycle for one mile in under a minute. He pedaled his bicycle from Farmingdale to Babylon in just 57.8 seconds. How is that possible, you ask? He did it by slipstreaming behind a railroad boxcar.
The first recorded instance of an animal becoming entangled in a possible plastic waste occurred just west of Nassau near Breezy Point, Queens in 1947. The Auk journalist Dr. M A Jacobson reported that a herring gull got caught by a 15-foot string, although it was unclear whether it was man-made or natural material.
“Typhoid” Mary Mallon holds the records for serving out the longest quarantine for an asymptomatic carrier of a disease. She was in forced isolation for 26 years in the early 1900s because she spread the infectious disease typhoid throughout the Long Island Gold Coast home where she worked as a cook, which led to a typhoid epidemic in New York, though she appeared fully healthy and did not exhibit any symptoms.
FIRST TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHTS
On May 8, 1919, Albert Cushing Read, along with his flight crew, set off from Long Island on what would become the very-first flight across the Atlantic Ocean. The flight took nearly 54 hours, and he officially set the record on May 27, 1919.
This record is not to be confused with that of Charles Lindbergh, who made the first solo transatlantic flight about eight years later in 1927, starting from Roosevelt Field on Long Island. Fun Guinness World Records facts about Lindbergh: he also holds the world records for most fan mail (a whopping 3.5 million pieces) and the first person to be Time magazine’s person of the year.
OLDEST OCEAN SEVEN SWIMMER
At 60 years old in 2019, Long Beach native Elizabeth Fry became the oldest person to ever swim the Ocean Seven, which includes the North Channel, the Cook Strait, the Molokai Channel, the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Tsugaru Channel, and the Strait of Gibraltar. She was always drawn to the water and has been swimming her whole life – that’s the Long Islander in her!
LARGEST WOODEN DOME HOME
Baiting Hollow, Long Island is home to the world’s largest wooden dome house. Dubbed the Long Island Green Dome, it is 70 feet in diameter and 44 feet high. The dome was built between 2001 and 2005 and is environmentally friendly with a solar power system, wind power generator, and geothermal cooling. Owner Kevin Shea once described the interior as “simple and multi-functional, reused and authentic, plain and exotic.”
LOWEST PGA CHAMPS SCORE
Golfer Brooks Koepka achieved the lowest score for 36 holes in PGA Championship history in 2019 at the Bethpage Black Course on Long Island. His first-round score of 63 is a course record, and he is the only player to golf the low score in PGA Champ history. His second-round score was 65, adding up to the lowest PGA Champ 36-hole score of 128.
A Long Island YouTube personality holds the record for chugging a liter of Mountain Dew in the shortest amount of time. Eric “Badlands” Booker, known as BadlandsChugs on YouTube, gulped down the soda liter in 6.8 seconds in June 2022. He also holds records for drinking a liter of tomato sauce in 1 minute 18 seconds and two liters of soda in 18.45 seconds.
At his highest weight of 1,197 pounds, Hempstead resident Walter Hudson broke the Guinness World Record for the largest waist at 119 inches in 1987. Hudson died of a heart attack at age 47 in 1991. He weighed 900 pounds at the time of his death.
LONGEST LINE OF BOOKS
The current record for the longest line of books is held by a company in China that had its staff of more than 100 people line up 50,088 books in July 2022. However, this Guinness World Record was previously held by the Freeport-based nonprofit The Book Fairies. The charity organization, which donates books to underprivileged children, teens, and adults, had more than 150 volunteers lay out 31,000 books in a row in February 2020.
CHARLIE THE LOBSTER
Though the world’s heaviest marine crustacean was caught in Nova Scotia, Canada, that lobster made its way to Long Island and was on display at a restaurant in Bayville for some time. Patrons affectionately referred to the record-breaking sea creature as Charlie the Lobster. The restaurant, Steve’s Pier 1, is now closed, and it’s unclear where Charlie ended up.
3-MILLION MILE VOLVO
You read that right – Irvin “Irv” Gordon, an East Patchogue native, put more than 3 million miles on his 1966 Volvo 1800S. He hit the the Guinness World Record of 3,039,122 miles driven in the vehicle while driving in Alaska on May 1, 2014. The mileage is equivalent to 120 circumnavigations of the Earth. Gordon died at the age of 78 in 2019.
Bellmore native Peter Lavinger caught his first drumstick at the front row of a Good Rats concert in 1980. The adrenaline must have been palpable – because in the 20 years to follow, he would collect 1,500 drumsticks, all of which had been played and signed by the musician. Notably, one is signed by Ringo Starr of the Beatles.
In 1999, Guinness World Records certified Lavinger’s as the largest collection of autographed drumsticks. The collection has been displayed as a main exhibition at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, OH, and at New York City’s Hard Rock Cafe.
MOST WORLD RECORDS
Last, but absolutely not least: Ashrita Furman, of Queens, holds the world record for most world records. He has broken more than 600 records and currently holds more than 200 of them. Unsurprisingly, quite a few of them were made right on Long Island, including in Montauk, where he set two in one day in 2001: jumping rope underwater 900 times in an hour and sack racing 6.2 miles in an hour and 22 minutes. Also, in 2002, he stood on an exercise ball for more than an hour in Southampton. Furman has set records on every continent on the globe.
The 68-year-old said he was always drawn to the allure of Guinness World Records.
“Whatever the reason, I remember poring through the book as a kid, filling my head with all those spectacular superlatives.”