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The farmers who first moved to what is now Selden in the mid-18th century referred to the area as Westfield (or sometimes as Westfields).
A school district for the Westfield area was first created in 1815, carved out of the districts for New Village (now Centereach) and Coram. Originally named District 25, it was renumbered as District 12 in 1842, which it remained as until the formation of the Middle Country Central School District in 1957.
When a post office was opened in 1852, Westfield had already been taken as a name by a community upstate. Upstate attorney (and later judge)Henry Selden promised to do "something handsome" if the town named itself after him. The name was adopted,
The primary road in the hamlet, and the location of most of the commercial development, is New York State Route 25 (Middle Country Road), which runs east to west. Similar to surrounding communities, Selden has a number of shopping centers along Middle Country Road, which developed as suburban growth spread eastward.
In 1975, College Plaza at the northeast corner of the Middle Country Road and Boyle Road intersection opened. Its original anchor tenants included King Kullen, Builder's Emporium, and Genovese.
In 1992, a new major shopping center, "Independence Plaza" opened at the northwest corner of Middle Country and Boyle Roads, adjacent to College Plaza. As of 2009, plans have been made to develop a town center in and around Independence Plaza.[