Robert Moses State Park | Fire Island – New York Travel Guide
Robert Moses State Park
Robert Moses is the perfect escape for city day-trippers working on a tan. It is accessible by automobile attached to the mainland by the Robert Moses Causeway. It is the only State owned parkland on Fire Island and offers incredible surfing, fishing, public parks, and facilities.
Originally known as Fire Island State Park, established in 1908, it was the first State Park on Long Island. New York State had established presence on Fire Island back in 1892 when a cholera scare prompted the Governor Roswell P. Flower to hastily purchase the Surf Hotel to quarantine immigrants exposed to the disease on transatlantic ships of September that year. This action caused a panic as commercial orders of fish harvested from the Great South Bay were cancelled. In addition, nearby residents began to worry about their own health and wellbeing.
An organized protest of fishermen and citizens from Islip and Babylon assembled at the dock of the Surf Hotel to prevent a day boat called the Cephus filled with quarantine passengers to land. Governor Flower eventually called in armed regiments to assure the men and women aboard the Cephus safe arrival. The Surf Hotel had once been one of the grandest hotel establishments on Fire Island, but it never recovered from the cholera protest incident, which made global headlines. Nor did the State have any talent for operating hotels. In time parts of the dilapidated structure washed out to sea while other portions of the sprawling compound were auctioned off and barged away.
From this turbulent beginning the State converted their Fire Island holdings into the parkland. In 1924 Robert Moses who was the newly appointed Commissioner of Long Island Parks System amended the parkland boundary to include additional lands built from westward littoral drift to form the profile of Fire Island State Park, as we know it today.
Prior to 1964 access to Fire Island State Park was via ferry from Babylon, NY. That year construction of a causeway was completed allowing automobile access and both the park and the causeway were named in honor of Commissioner Moses. This of course was the same Robert Moses that had desired to build a highway down the center of Fire Island, but was vehemently defeated by grassroots organized Fire Island residents. So the road stops abruptly shortly after Robert Moses State Park eastern line, and continues on no further.