Island Facts: Great Brewster Island
This largest of the Brewster islands features eroding cliffs, a salt marsh, tidal pools, and a large gull colony.
Great Brewster Island is the largest island in Boston's outer harbor at 19 acres of upland and 49 acres of intertidal area. It offers spectacular views of Boston's inner harbor, Massachusetts Bay, and Boston Lighthouse, America's oldest light station. In fact, from Great Brewster's 100 feet high bluffs, one can see four lighthouses.
While walking the island's trails, a visitor will see a salt marsh, gull breeding grounds and nurseries, the remains of a military bunker and observation post, and the stone wall foundations of summer cottages. Along the shoreline one can investigate tidal pools and, on most days, one can see lobster boats working their traps and several private boats fishing the many rock outcroppings that ring Great Brewster and the other outer islands.
There is no dock at Great Brewster Island.
Great Brewster Island was named for Elder William Brewster, the first preacher and teacher for the Plymouth Colony. Thousands of years before the English settlers named the island, Native Americans used it as a summer residence and utilized its natural resources. In more resent times the island has been home to summer cottages for local families and for U.S. soldiers who manned an observation post during WW II. The military post included 90mm rapid-fire guns, searchlight stations, and a command post that aided in controlling the harbor’s minefield.
Visitor Facilities & Services
Natural History Overview
Views and Vistas
Island names have changed, depending on ownership and the customs of the times. What's in a Name? lists alternate names for park islands (and a few Harbor islands not within the park). Following is the known alternate name for Great Brewster Island:
Did You Know?
Clarence Burrage was a philanthropist who established the Hospital for Crippled Children on Bumpkin Island in 1902. It was one of the first facilities with ramps instead of stairs. Though it burned in 1945, the remains can be seen today at Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. More...