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East Lyme is located in southern New London County, west of Waterford and Montville, east of Lyme and Old Lyme, and south of Salem. Long Island Sound is to the south. The town consists of two villages, Flanders and Niantic.

The village of Flanders, originally a farming area along the Old Post Road, gets its name from the development of a cottage textile industry similar to that in Flanders, Belgium. Flanders Four Corners is located at the intersection of Chesterfield Road (Route 161) with the Boston Post Road (Route 1) and is the site of many small stores and businesses. Flanders was the original center of the East Society of Lyme until the early 1800s when more development began in the Niantic area. Flanders Four Corners was a very populated roadway with dozens of 18th century homes, shops mostly taken down with the new highway - Interstate 95 built in the 1950s - that stretched from the four corners to the Waterford line.

It is common for the town of East Lyme to be called "Niantic", due to this side of town being the "beach" side which is popular with tourists and visitors in the summer months. The village of Niantic includes the beach communities of Attawan Beach, Black Point, Crescent Beach, Giants Neck Beach, Giants Neck Heights, Oak Grove Beach, Old Black Point, Pine Grove, and Saunder's Point.

Niantic's population doubles in the summer months for the beach season, and it has a much higher density than the more sparsely populated Flanders side of town, which is known for its apple orchards, acres of forest, and the town's highly rated high school.

The village of Niantic gets its name from the Niantic or Nehantic people, whose ranging grounds once extended from Wecapaug Brook, in what is now Rhode Island, to the Connecticut River. Shortly before the first settlers arrived, the Pequots had invaded Nehantic territory and annexed about half of the land claimed by the tribe. According to local historian Olive Tubbs Chendali:

It was the construction of the railroad in 1851 that lured people to the shoreline which up to this time had been known - not as Niantic - but as "The Bank". Long before this time, however, as evidenced by The Diary of Joshua Hempstead - 1711 - 1758 it was known as "Nahantick" "Nyantick" or "Nehantic", the home territory of the Nehantic Indians.

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Updated: 24th January, 2019 9:21 AM.