Cherry Grove, New York
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||946512|
Cherry Grove (often referred to locally as The Grove) is a hamletin the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York, United States. It is located on Fire Island, a barrier island separated from the southern side of Long Island by the Great South Bay. The hamlet has approximately 300 houses on 41 acres (166,000 m2), a summer seasonal population of 2,000 and a year-round population of 15.
Cherry Grove, along with nearby Fire Island Pines, is considered one of the most popular lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)-accepting resort communities in the United States. The Grove is reputedly the nation's first and oldest LGBT community.
Cherry Grove dates its modern history to the 1868 purchase by Archer and Elizabeth Perkinson. They bought the land between Lone Hill (now Fire Island Pines) and the Cherry Grove Hotel from the ocean to the bay for 25 cents per acre and named the area for the black-cherry trees in the area.
In 1921 the Perkisons sold all the land east of Duryea Walk to Lone Hill, and then divided what was left, into 109 building lots. A lot 50 x 80 feet (24 m) could be bought for $250 or less, and ocean-front lots cost no more than a dollar a front foot. Buildings from the newly deactivated Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York, were ported over to form the core of the new colony.
A post office was established in 1922 at the site of where "Tides" (formerly “The Monster”) is today; The first boardwalks were built in 1929.
In 1930 Duffy’s Hotel replaced the original hotel and was the only place with electricity and a phone.
The Great Hurricane of 1938 destroyed much of Cherry Grove and discouraged mainlanders from coming. In their stead a new generation started coming from Manhattan including Greta Garbo, Xavier Cugat, Paulette Goddard, Pola Negri, Arlene Francis, and Earl Blackwell (publisher of the International Celebrity Register).
According to legend the gay aura of the town arose when Christopher Isherwood and W. H. Auden arrived dressed as Dionysus and Ganymede, carried aloft on a gilded litter by a group of singing followers. Duffy’s attempted to ban same-sex dancing until after midnight.
Duffy’s burned on September 27, 1956, and was replaced by the Ice Palace Hotel which has remained a popular destination.
The Cherry Grove Fire Department (CGFD) is a low incident department. The CGFD also has pull stations located at every other street corner where unique hose houses contain vital equipment that would be needed by the members to suppress any fire; this is due to the unique nature of Cherry Grove. There are no roads, only boardwalks, hence no ability to respond with a fire engine. If a fire or emergency is spotted, one should call 911 or run to the nearest street corner and pull the lever down. A fire siren is activated, which alerts the members to respond. CGFD is one of the few fire departments in New York that still uses a manual pull station system.
Despite the small size of the hamlet, the community is further divided into three or four neighborhoods, from west to east:
- The quiet, residential West End, where the few year-round residents live in houses marked by stone chimneys, runs across the island from West Walk to Holly Walk. This was formerly the home of artist Paul Cadmus.
- The central business district, or Town, from Holly Walk to Doctor's Walk, and the beach to the bay, includes the Fire House, Community Center, Grove Hotel, a clinic, and the public ferry dock, as well as a few cooperatives, bars, grocery stores, art galleries, realtors, and restaurants. It is more densely settled than the rest of the hamlet.
- The residential East End, from Doctor's Walk to Ivy Walk, and south of Bayside Walk, consists exclusively of private homes, almost all of which are seasonal. The northeastern section of the East End, north of Bayview Walk, has a few private homes and the Belvedere Guest House for Men; some properties also have their own private docks. Once connected to Fire Island Pines, erosion and rising waters caused a collapse of the northeastern extension of Bayview Walk.
Cherry Grove is accessible via two major walks (Bayview and Lewis), which are generally parallel to the beach, and sixteen minor walks (Ivy, Sumner, Maryland, Aeon, Gerard, Greene, Duryea, Doctors, Main, Ocean, Holly, Surf, Beach, Sea, East, and West), which are generally perpendicular to the beach. South Walk (not shown in the map at right) is parallel to the beach and extends between Surf and Beach Walks.
Recreation and sites of interest
The Community House, located near the intersection of Holly and Bayview Walks, provides a wide variety of public services to the Grove. Generally speaking, gay couples and activities are the norm. In 2013 the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater was named to the National Register of Historic Places for "the enormous role it played in shaping what gradually evolved into America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town."
Entertainment and dining
There are at least six restaurants that operate within Cherry Grove, varying from pizza and breakfast to seafood and fine-dining. Also, there are at least four entertainment venues hosting plays, art shows, dancing, underwear parties, drag shows, and various community events.
Civic activities in the Grove include charity events and an Awards Night, during which votes are taken and titles bestowed upon residents and local businesses.
A big event on the Cherry Grove social calendar is the 4th-of-July weekend "Invasion of the Pines", which dates back to 1976, when a resident of the Grove showed up wearing drag in Fire Island Pines and was refused service. In the 1970s, the Pines was a more-conservative, more-heterosexual community than the Grove.
Cherry Grove is only accessible by water with most residents and visitors using a passenger ferry or private water taxi. A small marina is also available. There are no private vehicles in this part of Fire Island, although police and service vehicles are seen on the beach from time to time. The Grove has no paved roads and the cottages and beach are only accessible using a series of wooden boardwalks.
Fire Island Water Taxi
Visitors arriving by car may park at the Robert Moses State Park “Field Five” parking lot. After reaching the Fire Island Lighthouse, the Fire Island Water Taxi will ferry paying customers to the Grove. A water taxi provides short-distance transportation for those moving from place to place along the coast of Fire Island. The fare and schedule for the taxi service varies by season.
- "Cherry Grove". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey.
- "Journeys Weekender", The New York Times, July 15, 2005
- ""Cherry Grove: Before and After the Great Hurricane of 1938", Fireisalndqnews.com, Retrieved November 1, 2007". Fireislandqnews.com. 1918-07-10. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- ""History Cherry Grove", Fairharbor.com, Retrieved November 1, 2007".[dead link]
- Ester Newton, Cherry Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in America's First Gay and Lesbian Town, 1995, Beacon Press, ISBN 0-8070-7927-8
- "Fire Island Chamber of Commerce Cherry Grove History". Fireislandcc.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- "Fire Island Community Theater Gains Historic Landmark Status / Queerty". Queerty.com. 2013-07-03. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- "Cherry Grove Community House & Theater". Nps.gov. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- "Map of the Fire Island National Seashore". Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- Live Stream-Community Portal
- Cherry Grove, Fire Island Online Travel Guide
- Fire Island Website: News and Travel Guide
- Arts Project Cherry Grove (APCG)
- Cherry Grove Community Association (CGCAI)
- Cherry Grove Fire Department (CGFD)
- Fire Island Men: Gay Men of Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines
- Fire Island Q News, Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove Monthly Gay Webzine
- Fairy Schedule, Fire Island transportation schedules