Fire Island, A Historical Overview Essay

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Fire Island, A Historical Overview “Rhythmic waves, high dunes, ancient maritime forests, historic landmarks and glimpses of wildlife—Fire Island has been a special place for diverse plants, animals and people for centuries” The origin of Fire Island's name is not quite clear; there are many stories as to where the Island got its name. It is thought that its Native American name was Sictem Hackey, which translated means “Land of the Secatogues”, an Indian tribe in Bay Shore, New York. It was also part of what was called the "Seal Islands."Some historians have also suggested that the name Fire derived from a misinterpretation of the Dutch word "vijf" ("five") or in another version "vier" ("four") referring to the number of islands…show more content…
Fire Island remained in the Smith family up until 1900. Prior to 1900 there were no year round residents on the Island with the exception of the Lighthouse keeper and a few fish factory workers and a handful of squatters. Other than the Surf Hotel there were only a few buildings that were used during the summer as bars and restaurants for those who would sail across the bay for a day at the beach and the occasional clambake. The first large house ever to be built was constructed in 1795 in Cherry Grove by Jeremiah Smith, Smith was believed to have set fires to lure ships to sand bars just off shore and kill the crews The Surf Hotel which was located just east of the Lighthouse was an expansive building built on 120 acres of land that David Sammis owned, or so he thought a battle over the ownership of this land went on for years in court with Sammis winning. Sammis built the hotel in 1856 and by 1880 the hotel boasted rooms for 1500 guests. The Surf was host to many politically connected players in government be it local, city, state, and some federal, as well as the well off from the region. The “Southside Rail Road” soon to be known as the Long Island Rail Road came to Babylon in 1867 and the town was dubbed the gateway to Fire Island, which has since been bestowed on the town of Bay Shore. The guests of the hotel would take a stage coach for the four mile journey to the Bay Shore docks. It is assumed by a

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