History & Culture
Fire Island's maritime history precedes colonization of Long Island. Native Americans hunted and fished in the vicinity long before Colonial settlements were established. The economy and life patterns of residents have centered around the Great South Bay and Fire Island since the area was first settled.
The whaling industry, the era of the U. S. Life Saving Service, shipwrecks, habitation of the island, and the local fishing industry are some of the stories you may learn about at the Fire Island Lighthouse.
Fire Island has a long heritage of waterfowl hunting and the shellfishing industries on the Great South Bay. Hotels and resorts later followed on Fire Island.
Seventeen communities had been developed on Fire Island before the establishment of the park. When Fire Island National Seashore was established in 1964, its enabling legislation stated that these communities and preexisting commercial uses would be allowed to remain, as long as development was consistent with specific zoning standards.
Fire Island National Seashore also includes the ancestral home of one of New York's four signers of the Declaration of Independence: the William Floyd Estate. Here you may learn about the Revolutionary period, Long Island's settlement and its early estate and plantation economy.
As the nation reflects on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (1861-1865), we find there are connections to Fire Island National Seashore. Revolutionary War General William Floyd's great-great-grandson served in the Civil War, and his first-hand accounts are shared through letters back home to Old Mastic.
Many local libraries and museums contain historic photographs and collections about Fire Island and the properties now included within Fire Island National Seashore.
Did You Know?
Lifeguarded beaches are provided at Fire Island National Seashore during the summer at Watch Hill and Sailors Haven. More...