Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Barren Broadway views.

In the mid 1800's, the area around present day Saltaire and Kismet was often used for grazing cattle. The early pictures show Saltaire looking a little barren. The Long Island mainland was more wooded, so the barrier beach, often called "Racoon Beach" in the mid 1800's, offered wide open spaces, room to roam, and low ground vegetation. Certain parties called "proprietors" claimed ownership rights to the beach from an old 1789 deed. They in turn granted grazing rights to mainland farmers who would ship herds across the bay to graze.

After the the Surf Hotel(started 1855) was built and expanded near what is now Kismet, owner David Sammis was eventually sued by others with proprietary rights from that 1789 deed who claimed, inter alia, that Sammis' world famous beach resort interfered with their grazing rights. That litigation took years to resolve. It was resolved in a court decision in 1879 that divided ownership of Fire Island from Long Cove (near Davis Park) westward to the Surf Hotel into 78 tracts, and declared who owned what tract. (Track #5 eventually became Saltaire). Only then could formal land titles be established for specific parts of the island, eventually letting large communites develop.

The Long Island Chautauqua Assembly considered building Fire Island's first formal community on the site of the Surf Hotel (by then in decline) , but they rejected that; they considered and decided against developing around Clam Pond Cove; and finally they went east and founded Point O Woods in 1894. Oakleyville came next ( 1897, east of POW, now gone); Lonleyville (1905) Ocean Beach (1908) and Saltaire (1910.)
Citations: Madeline C. Johnson, Fire Island, 1650s-1980s (Ch. 7) and Frank Goggins: "The Great South Beach Before 1910" in History of The Incorporated Village of Saltaire by Ruth Bryan Brewster Dobie; independent research and photo collections of JO'H.


From 1915 LIRR Long Island Promotional "Long Island and Real Life"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Raccon Beach??

Was this also the locale of the Racoon Lodge, immortalized in one of the all time classic sitcoms - The Honeymooners?