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)

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Centennial Mystery #1:

Where did then name "Saltaire" come from?

Photo courtesy Frank Mina

It was one hundred years ago that the New York times Reported:

"The largest sale ever made of beach property on Fire Island has just been made by Mrs.E. W. King. The plot was owned by Henry and Sophie Von Glahn of Brooklyn, and consisted of over two miles of waterfront on the ocean and bay, including the only natural cove on the island, and making a beautiful harbor for boats. It is located within 1,700 feet of the State Park, and was purchased by L.E.Bliss, J.W. Hingston of New York, and F.A. Hendricks and O.F. Loucks of Brooklyn. The buyers were formerly connected with the T.B. Ackerson developments at Brightwaters, and have incorporated and will do business under the name of Fire Island Beach Development Company. This property will be known as Saltaire, named after the famous French watering place. Plans have been completed for the erection of a hotel, casino, boardwalks, and a dock, besides a large steamer, which is being built in to make regular trips from Bay Shore to Saltaire."
--NY Times August 26, 1910

The Times may be in error as to the reason for the name "Saltaire." We had always believed Saltaire was named after the Scottish industrial town of Saltaire, not some chic "watering hole." But maybe that is a Saltaire F.I. urban legend. We know who named it Saltaire: a very famous American yachtsman, author, and editor of Rudder Magazine named Thomas Fleming Day (see image on right) who was British born. Click here to see "Who put the Salt?" see notes at the bottom of this article
. Rudder Magazine had an article in 1907 that mentioned yachts named "Stranger" and "Saltair."We need some help here, folks. Can anybody track down any evidence of an early 20th Century French watering hole known as Saltaire?????? Is that the real source for inspiration for the naming of Saltaire?

The Times did not run a photo with their story, but above is our best photo of some of the Fire Island Beach Development Company principals.

Also in the picture is the great Captain Paterson, who may have been the most powerful man on the Bay in the first half of the twentieth century. Boats were needed to get people to Saltaire, and Paterson was into boats. Captain Paterson was followed later in the century by his son, Elmer Paterson, who ruled the bay waves west of Patchogue through the 1960's.

Centennial Mystery #2:
More thought for research during this centennial year: Were the principals of the Fire Island Beach Development Corp. visionaries? They bulldozed the dunes and then built huge houses on the flattened beach. Many of their oceanfront homes were lost to the surf long before the hurricane of 1938. The development's rickety little boardwalks quickly fell into disrepair but there was no provision for infrastructure maintenence. The idea of Incorporation came later. In the 1920's there were two major auctions for unsold land in Saltaire, urging people to buy land as "speculation."
Were these guys visonaries working in the tradition of early 20th Century planned communities, or were they a bunch of hucksters?

These are some questions to look into as the course of the celebration of Saltaire's centennial.
Do your research and we will post it here.

Notes on Thomas Fleming Day:
Rudder magazine has an article in 1907 mentioning yachts named the Stranger and the Saltairsee:

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