Boston Light

Boston Light
Photo by Jeremy D'Entremont,
Boston Light marks a main shipping entrance to Boston Harbor—New England's busiest port—which has been commercially active since the 17th century. Established in 1716, the original stone tower was the first lighthouse built in North America. The British destroyed Boston Light during the Revolutionary War in 1776. Rebuilt in 1783, the present light tower is recognized as the Nation's second oldest. Other separate station buildings still standing on the site are the 1876 fog signal building, 1884 keeper's dwelling, 1884 cistern building, 1889 oil house and 1889 boathouse. The buildings are clustered on the three-acre island and connected by foot paths.

[photo] Boston Light
Photos by Jeremy D'Entremont,

Attached to the base is an enclosed workroom that provides access to the tower. By 1809, six heavy iron bands were placed around the tower to strengthen it. The circular, iron staircase (76 stairs) was installed in 1844. Further alterations occurred in 1859, when the height of the tower was increased from 75 feet to 89 feetl, and a new lantern room and second-order Fresnel lens were added. Since that time, no major structural changes have been made. As had been done during the War of 1812, the Boston Light was dimmed during World War I, and it was completely extinguished during World War II to reduce usefulness to enemy ships. Electrified in 1948 and automated in 1998, Boston Light still employs the original Fresnel lens. Boston Harbor Light Station was designated a National Historic Landmark in January 1964. Preservation groups appealed to Congress and the U.S. Coast Guard, and funding was appropriated to keep U.S. Coast Guard staff at the light station, thereby making it the last manned light in the Nation.

Boston Light Station, a National Historic Landmark, is located on Little Brewster Island. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, Boston Light Station is an active aid to navigation. It is open by guided tour only and reservations are recommended. Call 617-223-8666 for information on 3 hour public cruises to the island from early June to mid-October, on Thursdays-Sundays. Little Brewster Island is one of 34 islands comprising Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, which is managed by a 13-member partnership that includes the National Park Service and other public and private organizations. The island is open to private boaters on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12:30pm to 3:00pm for drop-off and pick-up only. No docking is permitted and boaters must anchor offshore. Further information can be found on the websites of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area and Boston Harbor Islands Partnership.

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