Robert Moses State Park

Coordinates: 40°37′23″N 73°16′48″W / 40.623°N 73.28°W / 40.623; -73.28
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Robert Moses State Park
A lifeboat on the beach at
Robert Moses State Park
Robert Moses State Park is located in New York
Robert Moses State Park
Location of Robert Moses State Park
within New York State
TypeState park
LocationFire Island, New York
Nearest cityBabylon, New York
Coordinates40°37′23″N 73°16′48″W / 40.623°N 73.28°W / 40.623; -73.28
Area875 acres (3.54 km2)[1]
Created1908 (1908)
Operated byNew York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Visitors3,477,086 (in 2014)[2]
OpenAll year
WebsiteRobert Moses State Park

Robert Moses State Park - Long Island is a 875-acre (3.54 km2) state park in southern Suffolk County, New York.[3] The park lies on the western end of Fire Island, one of the central barrier islands off the southern coast of Long Island, and is known for its five-mile (8.0 km) stretch of beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. The park is accessible from Long Island by the Robert Moses Causeway across Great South Bay.

Established as Fire Island State Park in 1908, the park is the oldest state park on Long Island.[4] Its current name was given to honor Robert Moses, the influential mid-20th century urban planner and former president of the Long Island State Park Commission.[5] Recently, lawmakers have suggested the park should revert to its previous name or to something that better reflects its location.[6][7]

Park description[edit]

A path through the trees at Robert Moses State Park.

Robert Moses State Park includes five miles (8.0 km) of beach, which visitors can use for swimming, surfing, or fishing. Anglers may fish from either the beach or the piers. A day use boat basin that can accommodate up to 40 boats is also available.[8] Guests can also use the four bathhouses on the property. The park also contains four concession stands (one at each field), volleyball courts, first aid stations, picnic areas, and a playground at Field 5.[citation needed]

On the west end of the park is an 18-hole pitch and putt golf course. The secluded course is set among native trees and beach vegetation.[9] It is typically open April through November and equipment rental is available.

The Fire Island Lighthouse at the adjacent Fire Island National Seashore

Robert Moses State Park also facilitates access to the Fire Island National Seashore, immediately east of the park. Since there is no parking at the Seashore itself, many visitors park at Field 5 in order to walk to Lighthouse Beach, the Fire Island Lighthouse and Museum,[10] or the nearby community of Kismet. In 2010, New York State officials estimated about 30% of the users of Field 5 park there to access Lighthouse Beach and the Lighthouse itself.[11] Lighthouse Beach was historically a clothing optional beach;[12] however, the National Park Service has enforced a ban on public nudity at Lighthouse Beach since 2013, citing concerns over increases in lewd behavior prior to the ban. Violators face a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and six months in prison.[13][14]

Access and hours[edit]

The park is accessible by automobile from the Robert Moses Causeway, which connects Fire Island with mainland Long Island. Parking is available in four separate fields. Parking fields 2, 4 and 5 have a capacity of roughly 1,000 vehicles while the capacity at Field 3 is 500. Suffolk Transit's S47 route also serves the beach seasonally connecting it with the Babylon Long Island Rail Road station on the Babylon Branch.

The park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset, although hours for activities such as swimming and golfing vary by season. Portions of the park are open 24 hours a day to fishermen with the appropriate permit.[15]

Starting in early April, visitors are charged a fee for parking at the park. As of 2015, vehicle fees are $8 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends from mid-April until Memorial Day, after which a $10 fee is charged from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays, and a $10 fee is charged on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. After Labor Day weekend, vehicle fees are once again $8 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends only, until mid-November when fees are no longer charged.[16]


Water tower and Robert Moses Causeway roundabout at Robert Moses State Park, with the Atlantic Ocean in the background

The west end of Fire Island was part of a colonial grant to William "Tangier" Smith. In 1825 the federal government acquired the westerly tip to build a lighthouse and David Sammis bought about 120 acres (0.49 km2) to the east in 1855 and built the Surf Hotel.[17][18][citation needed]

In 1892, fears of a cholera epidemic spread by passengers on ships arriving in New York prompted the state to acquire the hotel property to establish a quarantine station.[19][20] Irate local citizens obtained an injunction blocking the quarantine station and occupied the site despite the arrival of troops.[21][22][23][24]

In 1908, Governor Charles Evans Hughes signed legislation designating the former Surf Hotel property as Long Island's first state park, known then as Fire Island State Park.[4] The island and the park have grown since that time; for decades, sand has accumulated along Fire Island's western tip at a rate of 160 feet (50 m) per year, increasing the island's length by five miles (8.0 km) since 1825. At the time of the park's establishment, the island's western tip was near where the park's water tower stands today.[25]

A 1918 fire destroyed the boardwalk and the few buildings on the site.[citation needed] In 1924, the state established the Long Island State Park Commission headed by Robert Moses as part of a statewide park and parkway program, also run by Moses. The commission obtained from the federal government four miles (6.4 km) of beach west of the lighthouse that had been formed by shifting sand. In 1926 the first bathhouse was erected.[citation needed]

After the hurricane of 1938 devastated the park, the commission decided to rebuild farther east near the lighthouse, and sand was pumped onto the beach to raise a portion of the island to a height of 18 feet (5.5 m) above sea level. In 1940, the first modern bathhouse opened to the public, replacing facilities destroyed by the hurricane.[25]

Deer in Robert Moses State Park in March 2013.

Ferry service was maintained from Babylon to the park until 1964 when the Robert Moses Causeway opened. The park was renamed for Moses that same year.[25] Attendance boomed, and three parking fields with bathhouses were added.

Robert Moses State Park celebrated its 100th anniversary on June 27, 2008. The anniversary coincided with the completion of several improvements at the park, including a $700,000 rehabilitation of the bathhouse at Field 3. The renovation improved and expanded bathroom facilities, repaired the park's cupola and clock, and replaced a glass and metal storefront added to the building in the 1980s with a new exterior consistent with the building's original architecture. The renovations were part of $132 million in improvements for New York's state parks and historic sites enacted in 2008.[26]

In 2013, a $7.7 million dredging and beach restoration project was conducted to replenish beaches damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The project used about 520,000 cubic yards (400,000 m3) of sand removed during dredging of the Captree State Park boat canal to restore beaches at Robert Moses State Park.[27]

A $1.7 million project to increase energy efficiency and install a 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic power system at the park was announced in 2015. The planned improvements aim to make Robert Moses State Park the first energy-neutral state park in the United States.[28]

In 2019 a proposal was made by Manhattanville representative Daniel J. O'Donnell to rename Robert Moses State Park in the light of a re-evaluation of the history of Long Island and the legacy of Robert Moses.[6] The bill did not include a proposal for a new name. In February 2021 the bill progressed on to the New York State Assembly calendar, where as of December 2021 it still sits.[7]

As of 2014, the facility attracts approximately 3.5 million visitors per year.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Robert Moses State Park - Long Island". NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "State Park Annual Attendance Figures by Facility: Beginning 2003". Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  3. ^ "Robert Moses State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "History of Fire Island National Seashore". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  5. ^ Paquette, Carole (October 1, 1995). "Showcasing the Career of Robert Moses". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "NY Lawmaker Proposes Bill To Rename Robert Moses State Park". Babylon Village, NY Patch. December 4, 2019. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "NY State Assembly Bill A3480". NY State Senate. January 27, 2021. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  8. ^ "Robert Moses State Park - Long Island". NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  9. ^ "Robert Moses State Park Pitch and Putt Course". NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  10. ^ "Robert Moses State Park - Fire Island National Seashore". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  11. ^ "Meeting with New York State Park Officials Sept 16, 2010". Long Island Traversuns Inc. Retrieved March 7, 2011. approximately 30%, by their estimation, of those parking in Field #5 of Robert Moses State Park are doing so in order to avail themselves of facilities on the federal property, namely the Lighthouse, and even more often the beach near it, commonly known as Lighthouse Beach
  12. ^ "Detailed Maps of Lighthouse Beach Fire Island". Long Island Travasuns Inc. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  13. ^ Santora, Marc (February 27, 2013). "Crackdown on Nudity Planned for Fire Island Beach". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  14. ^ Rudd, Candice (February 26, 2013). "Officials ban nude sunbathing on Fire Island". Newsday. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  15. ^ "Robert Moses State Park - Hours of Operation". NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  16. ^ "Robert Moses State Park - Fees and Rates". NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  17. ^ Wilcox, Gerald; Wilcox, Judith (1976). First history of West Islip (Secatogue). West Islip, N.Y.: G. Wilcox. p. 107. OCLC 2426083. David Sturges Sprague Sammis [...] was the owner of the famous Surf Hotel (Fire Island)
  18. ^ "Fire Island Light Station Cultural Landscapes Inventory; Fire Island National Seashore" (PDF). National Park Service. 2004. p. 14. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
    Year Event Description
    1856 AD Built By 1856, David Sammis builds a chowder house

    east of the Fire Island Lighthouse.

    1857 AD Expanded David Sammis transforms the chowder house into the Surf Hotel, by adding a 100-foot addition. The new hotel could accommodate 100 guests.
  19. ^ Bogart, John (1892). New York Harbor with its Approaches by Water from the Atlantic Ocean and Lower Bay and also through Long Island Sound showing the location of the various parts of the Quarantine Establishment; To accompany the [1892] report of Wm. T. Jenkins, Health Commissioner, Port of New York (Map). 1:79200. Overleaf between pp. 34-35. Retrieved November 23, 2020. Fire Island Beach; Detention Station for Cabin Passengers
  20. ^ Jenkins, William T., Dr., Health Officer, Port of New York (1892). "Annual Report of the Commissioners of Quarantine State of New York, also the Health Officer's Report to said Commissioners" (75). College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Libraries. Albany: Board of Commissioners of Quarantine, New York State: 49-51. On the tenth day of September, after repeated endeavors in other directions, I received from the Governor of the State his personal check, with instruction to purchase Fire island, which I had previously described to him. The suggestion to purchase Fire island did not originate with me, but with the cabin passengers of the Normannia, as indicated by the appended letter, S. S. Normannia, Lower Quarantine, September 7, 1892 [...] for our prompt removal on board some suitable ship or to some suitable hotel on Fire island. [...] The purchase of Fire island was at once effected, and on the eleventh of September the [passengers] were transferred to the Cepheus to be taken to Fire island. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Jenkins, William T., Dr., Health Officer, Port of New York (1892). "Annual Report of the Commissioners of Quarantine State of New York, also the Health Officer's Report to said Commissioners" (75). College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Libraries. Albany: Board of Commissioners of Quarantine, New York State: 51. After coaling at the quarantine station the following morning (the twelfth) the Cepheus started upon a second voyage to Fire island, where an armed mob was encountered, which effectually prevented any landing. It was then for the first time that the cabin passengers realized the violent opposition which existed in the public mind to their returning to the city. On the twelfth, the Cepheus anchored in the Great South Bay opposite Fire island dock. An injunction secured by Mr. Wagstaff from Judge Benedict, was served upon the captain of the Cepheus, from whom, during the day, every effort was made to secure the papers, but without success, as all intercourse was prevented by the mob. [...] Pending argument upon the injunction, the Governor sent a portion of the National Guard to Fire island. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ Flower, Roswell Pettibone (1894). Public papers of Roswell P. Flower, governor, 1892-[1894]. Cornell University Library. Albany, The Argus Company, printers. p. 59. [I]n the emergency the Executive authorized the Health Officer to purchase additional accommodations on behalf of the State. This was done by the purchase for $210,000 (equivalent to $6,840,000 in 2022) of the Surf Hotel and grounds at Fire Island, which seemed to be the only suitable place then available for quarantine purposes. An additional expense of about $20,000 was incurred by the necessity of calling out part of the National Guard and the Naval Militia to protect the State in the possession of its purchase at Fire Island,
  23. ^ Louie, Naomi (April 23, 2019). The "death ship" Normannia, federal power in 1892, and immigration to America in a time of cholera (B.A. (Hons) thesis). University of British Columbia. doi:10.14288/1.0378810. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  24. ^ McCollum, Shoshanna (2012). Fire Island: Beach Resort and National Seashore. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7385-9133-9. The imprisoned "Normania" passengers on the "Cepheus" off the wharf at Fire Island
  25. ^ a b c "Robert Moses State Park/Fire Island National Seashore". Geology of National Parks. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  26. ^ "Press Release - Robert Moses State Park Celebrates 100th Anniversary". NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. June 27, 2008. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  27. ^ Dooley, Emily C. (March 25, 2013). "520,000 cubic yards of sand for Robert Moses park beach". Newsday. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  28. ^ "Governor Cuomo Announces Robert Moses State Park to be First Energy-Neutral State Park in the Nation". Office of the New York State Governor. April 23, 2015. Retrieved November 27, 2015.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Beaches of Fire Island Succeeded by
Southernmost Point