Sunday, April 10, 2011

High Hill Beach, LI, NY

The road I'm sitting on  is a hiking trail which now leads to what was once a summer colony named High Hill Beach. It was in existence from 1900 to 1939 when it was destroyed by Robert Moses to make way for Jones Beach State Park.  When it first began, High Hill Beach consisted of 20 to 30 cottages that were built on leased land just before the turn of the 20th century.  As the summer community grew and became more active, so did the number of cottages and vacationers.  At it's peak, High Hill Beach contained a total of 98 cottages, a boarding house, a hotel-casino, a life saving station and a post office. 

At least 20 or 30 houses were moved to the gated hamlet of nearby West Gilgo Beach, where they can still be seen from Ocean Parkway today if you know where to look.

The community was located on a crescent shaped eastern rim of Zach's Bay nestled among the dunes toward the surf.  Apparently, it was a quiet community uninterrupted by any sound at all. There was a long narrow boardwalk linking the bay to the  cottages on the ocean side.  

Before construction of the Wantagh Causeway leading down to Jones Beach, vacationers arrived at High Hill Beach either by ferry or private boat.  The ferry would leave from Bellmore and would take 40 minutes to arrive at High Hill.  In 1928, a one way trip to the beach cost 40 cents and a round trip cost 70 cents. 

Area where High Hill Beach was located
  There were no telephones, no gas, little or no electricity.  There were a few radios.  There was no plumbing or toilets.  Each cottage had its own outhouse or privy and visitors obtained their water from wells and cooking was done on a kerosene stove.  There was a large pavilion which was considered the center of the community where people could buy a variety of refreshments anywhere from ice cream to sandwiches to some great clam chowder. High Hill Beach also had a lamplighter. Its kerosene lamps were placed as needed by the boardwalk and were cleaned and refilled once a week. 
A picture of Savage's Hotel and Casino at High Hill Beach

The picture above shows Savage's Hotel and Casino, which was originally the Sportsmens Hotel built by R.T  Wilmarth in 1900. He sold the hotel in 1917 to M.F. Savage.

High Hill Beach community taken from Savage's Hotel.  Notice the boardwalk.

Jones Beach State Park was opened in 1929 and the community of High Hill Beach was given 11 years to relocate.  By 1940, 38 of the cottages were moved to West Gilgo Beach and the rest destroyed along with Savage's Hotel.  The area is now used to service Jones Beach as a maintenance station.
Gated hamlet of West Gilgo Beach
Here are some links that I am including:

 A small piece of history about High Hill Beach

Article about the history of High Hill Beach where I took most of my information from. Very interesting article with pictures and remembrances of summer community residents.

This is an interesting article and contains the image black and white image that I used with the boardwalk.  It explains some history of High Hill during the time of construction of Jones Beach State Park.

More pictures and postcards from High Hill Beach from the Levonius family. It shows the life saving station, the boardwalk and some of the cottages in the community.

Wikipedia article on West Gilgo Beach.,_New_York

Wikimapia of approximate location of where the community of High Hill Beach once existed

Wikipedia article on Jones Beach State Park,_New_York

Theatre at Jones Beach on Zach's Bay across from what was once High Hill Beach.

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