The Fire Island Lighthouse is Fire Island’s most historically significant landmark. Originally built in 1857, the lighthouse has been restored by the Fire Island Preservation Society and open to the public as a museum and observatory.
The Fire Island Lighthouse is the most iconic and historically significant Fire Island landmark. It was often the first sign of arrival to America that European immigrants saw when traveling via transatlantic ships in the 19th Century, making it a very potent symbol of Long Island’s maritime heritage. The lighthouse was originally built in 1857 to replace one constructed a few decades prior that had been deemed ineffective in adequately preventing shipwrecks due to its lack of height at only 74 feet. The present Fire Island Lighthouse is 168 feet tall. In 1891 its signature black and white “day-mark” bands where applied.
In 1973 an unmanned strobe light was placed on the nearby Robert Moses State Park water tower and the Fire Island Lighthouse was officially decommissioned on December 31st of that year. By 1981 the lighthouse was in such a state of disrepair that demolition was being considered. However devoted citizens both on Fire Island and the mainland rallied to save it and formed the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society.
Among the people’s arguments to keep the lighthouse standing was the fact that the water tower strobe failed to illuminate the Great South Bay as well as the ocean. The Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society successfully entered the Fire Island Lighthouse on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and the beacon was relit in 1986.
Today the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society remains very active. With a public museum where the Keeper’s quarters once were and an observatory that offers breathtaking bird’s eye vistas, Fire Island Lighthouse is now the most visited lighthouse in the United States.
In 2011 the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society completed construction of the “Fresnel Lens” building: A replica of the generator building that once stood on the grounds to house the magnificent lens that stood atop the lighthouse between the year 1858 – 1933. This lens had been exhibited at the Franklin Museum in Philadelphia for many years and is now back home.
The Fire Island Lighthouse is the oldest and most significant landmark associated with Fire Island history.This magnificent lighthouse was built in 1857, and served as the guiding light for many European immigrants sailing into New York Harbor. The Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society has restored the lighthouse and it is open to the public as an observatory and museum. The lighthouse is open from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM daily during the summer and guided tours are available. The Fire Island Lighthouse observatory offers amazing views of Long Island, the Atlantic Ocean, the Great South Bay, and Fire Island beaches. On a clear day, the Fire Island Lighthouse offers views of the New York City skyline – a truly spectacular vista that must be experienced to be believed.
Fire Island Lighthouse Events
The Fire Island Lighthouse holds year round activities for kids and adults alike, from informative presentations “The History of the Life Saving Service” to romantic evening events like the Barefoot Black Tie Dinner Dance there is truly something for everyone. A complete list of Fire Island Lighthouse events can be found on the Fire Island Events page.
How to get to the Fire Island Lighthouse
The Fire Island Lighthouse is located on the western end of the Fire Island National Seashore, between the town of Kismet and Robert Moses State park. Visitors can access the Fire Island Lighthouse via a quick walk from the field 5 parking area. This is probably the most common way people visit the Fire Island Lighthouse and although technically you are on Fire Island, you are able to access this area by car so it may lack some of the true no car Fire Island vibe. Another option is to make a real Fire Island day of it, take the Fire Island Ferry from Bay Shore to the town of Kismet. From Kismet the Fire Island Lighthouse is just a short 10 minute walk down the beach.
What to do on Fire Island
There is plenty to do on Fire Island; we suggest that you read our Fire Island Things to Do post for more information. The Fire Island Lighthouse is an amazing historical landmark and great way to get a quick and easy taste of life on Fire Island. It’s also an amazing photography subject.
For hours of operations and more information on the Fire Island Lighthouse or the history of the Fire Island Lighthouse contact the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society.
4640 Captree Island
Captree Island, NY 11702-4601
Office phone: 631.321.7028