Hempstead (hĕmp`stĕd, –stəd), town (1990 pop. 725,639), Nassau co., SE N.Y., on W Long Island. It surrounds the village of Hempstead (1990 pop. 49,453), inc. 1853. The town, which has the largest population of any town in New York State, is a retail center for the area. Electronic equipment, tools, chemicals, and metal products are made there. The town grew significantly in the 1970s with the construction of nearby freeways, large retail outlets, and the expansion of regional suburban industries. Hempstead was settled in 1644 by English colonists who named it for their old home in England, Hemel-Hempstead. Hofstra Univ. is located there, as are many colonial houses and monuments and the oldest Presbyterian congregation in the United States.