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Fishers Island is a small island, approximately 9 miles (14 km) long and 1 mile (1.6 km) wide, in Suffolk Countymarker in the U.S. state of New Yorkmarker. Fishers Island is a census-designated place and hamlet (unincorporated community) in the town of Southoldmarker. It is located at the eastern end of Long Island Soundmarker, 2 miles (3 km) off the southeastern coast of Connecticutmarker across Fishers Island Sound. It is approximately 11 miles (18 km) from the tip of Long Islandmarker and approximately 7 miles (12 km) southeast of New London, Connecticutmarker, from which it is accessible by plane or a regular ferry service. The United States Census Bureau defines the island as Block Group 2, Census Tract 1702.02 of Suffolk County, New York. As of the 2000 census there were 289 people living year-round on 4.053 square miles (10.496 km2) of land; however, the population rises to over 2000 during the peak summer weekends. Fishers Island is primarily a remote summer getaway for the wealthy.

Geography

Fishers Island represents a section of the same terminal moraine that formed the North Fork of Long Island, which comes ashore at Watch Hill, Rhode Islandmarker. During the late phase of the Wisconsin glaciation, glacial Lake Connecticut formed at the retreating fore edge of the ice sheet, over what is now Long Island Sound; it formed an outlet in its moraine dam at The Race, famous for rip currents, which still separates Fishers Island from the North Fork. Fishers Island is essentially a long barrow of rocky till scoured from the surface of southern Connecticutmarker.

Wicopesset Island, a small unoccupied island just off East Point on Fisher's Island, is closer to the New York water boundary with Rhode Island than Montauk Pointmarker. However Montauk gets the title of New York's easternmost land point because it is farther east.

History

The island was called "Munnawtawkit" by the Native American Pequot tribe. Adrian Block, the first recorded European visitor, named it Visher's Island in 1614, after one of his companions. For the next 25 years, it remained a wilderness, visited occasionally by Dutch traders. In 1640, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony granted the island to John Winthrop, Jr., who lived only one winter on the island. After being named governor of the Connecticut Colony, Winthrop used the island to raise sheep for food and wool. After Winthrop died in 1676, his son, Fitz-John, installed a lessee farmer from England, William Walworth, on the island. Walworth brought with him a system of cultivation which was continued on the island for nearly 200 years. He established farmland out of the heavily forested island. Walworth and his family vacated the island nine years later due to the threat of pirates. Fishers Island remained in the Winthrop family until 1863, when ownership passed to Robert R. Fox, and then to Edmund and Walton Ferguson.

The island was a target of British soldiers during the Revolutionary War, who raided islands in Long Island sound for supplies. Many of the residents of Fishers Island took their herds to the relative safety of Connecticut in 1776. The raids continued though, and in 1779 the British burnt many of the island's homes.

In 1783, brickmaking was established, using the vast amounts of available clay, as the largest and only industry. This business was discontinued in 1889. In 1870, a life saving station was erected at the western end of the island, which overlooked the waters between Fishers Island and Little Gull Island. The Race Rock Lightmarker, located approximately one mile west of Fishers Island, was constructed in 1878 as a navigational aid for travel in the Race. In the early 1900s a permanent Coast Guard Station was built on the west end of the island. In 1898, the Fergusons sold on the western end of the island to the Federal Government. This land was developed as Fort H.G. Wright, established as part of a larger coastal defense project. Over the years Fort Wright drew a large number of residents to the Island. The 1890s brought a growing summer population and the construction of the Fishers Island Yacht Club. The E.W. & W. Ferguson business was established: it managed the Mansion House Hotel and Cottages, a ferry service, and the electricity, water and telephone enterprises. This business was renamed Fishers Island Farms in 1918. Following the death of the Fishers Island Farms president in 1965, the business was purchased and became the Fishers Island Utility Company which continues to own and operate the water, telephone and electrical utilities. The ferry is operated by the Fishers Island Ferry District, a public entity financed through a special tax district. The town contracts with the Ferry District to operate Elizabeth Field airport and to manage other structures in the Town's ownership that were part of Fort Wright.

The island was the subject of a border dispute between New York and Connecticut. A 1664 land patent granted to the Duke of York included all islands in Long Island sound, effectively granting the island to New York. However, when Winthrop became governor of Connecticut in 1657, he had included Fishers Island in Connecticut's charter. The dispute would not be settled until 1879 when a joint commission decided that the island was part of New York. New York State, Connecticut and Rhode Island meet in the waters east of Fishers Island.

Hurricanes have played an important role in the island's history with the Great September Gale of 1815 and the New England Hurricane of 1938 both causing widespread damage. The 1815 storm resulted in substantially all of the island trees being destroyed by a combination of the powerful winds and by the storm surge flooded coastal towns with seawater. The consequences for Fishers Island were visible for almost a century and a half. A panoramic photograph taken from one vantage point on the island in 1910 shows more boats in Hay and West harbors than there are mature trees. Until the 1950s, Fishers Island had the look of Ireland: stone walls, few trees, and windswept moors. The 1938 storm, which blew in seeds returning Fishers to its pre-1815 foliage, was less severe with only a few local residences destroyed, primarily by wind. (Most Fishers Island residences have sitings above sea level that protect them from storm surge.) Winds in excess of ripped the roof off John Nicholas Brown's ultra modern residence "Windshield", designed by Richard Neutra, which had only recently been completed. The Browns rebuilt "Windshield", but it was destroyed by fire in the early 1970s.

Culture

Docks at Fishers Island
Despite being a part of New York, in many ways the island has closer links with Connecticut, to its north, than with the rest of New York, to the southwest. For example, its ZIP Code is 06390; Connecticut zip codes begin with "06" while all other places in New York State, apart from Fishers Island and the Internal Revenue Service processing center in Holtsvillemarker, have zip codes starting with "1". The island is also part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; and the Boy Scouts of America's Connecticut Rivers Council. The island is the only point in Suffolk County to which telephone calls placed from the greater New York Citymarker area are classified as long distance and not "regional", even though the island's area code is the same as that of eastern Long Island (631).

Since the turn of the 20th century, well established and old money families have selected the Island as the destination for their summer vacation, and their luxurious dwellings (the island's exclusive estates) reflect an emphasis on continuity and tradition. Its more notable residents include former Governor Thomas Kean of New Jersey, former CIA Director Porter Goss, filmmaker Albert Maysles, former Whitney Museum director Tom Armstrong, former Kidder, Peabody & Co. Chairman Albert Gordon, Scudder Sinclair, president of the Sinclair Pharmacal Co. Inc. (based on Fishers Island), author Rick Moody (The Ice Storm), and heirs to IBM and DuPont (including Christopher duPont Roosevelt). Most of the island's year-round residents reside in the hamlet of Fishers Islandmarker on the western end of the island. In addition to their houses, there are all the necessities for small-town life, including a grade school, bowling alley, movie theater, liquor store, grocery store, 2 gas stations, volunteer fire department, and post office. The west end also has a small air strip, a museum, an ice cream shop (Toppers) and a cafe (the News Cafe), a boutique (The Beach Plum), and a restaurant/bar (The Pequot).

The eastern two-thirds of the island is scattered with large summer estates accessible by a single private road. During the main season, access to the private road is protected by a guard shed, which is decorated festively once a year on Labor Day for the annual Harbor Open Golf (HOG) parade and tournament hosted by the Fishers Island Club.

The seaside scenes in the movie The World According to Garp, starring Robin Williams and Glenn Close, were shot on Fishers Island on and about the grounds of the mansion originally built by Bethlehem Steel heir Robert Linderman. Many other movies have also been filmed here.

Famous houses include the Round House, The Firestone House, Windshield (which has since burned down), and The Three Sisters.

Recreation

The island has two country clubs and a yacht club as well as several beaches anda harbor.

Fishers Island Club, usually called "The Big Club," is at the island's eastern tip and is home to a Seth Raynor designed, world-class links golf course that is rated ninth on Golf Digest's 2009 list of America's 100 greatest golf courses. Historically, it was referred to as a "real course" in a July 1957 letter from President Dwight David Eisenhower to John Hay Whitney. The club also has four tennis courts, a beach club, and a members-only beachfront. The main clubhouse has two dining rooms capable of seating 250 people. There are also housing facilities for over forty employees on the island.

Hay Harbor is a smaller club on the west part of the island with a nine-hole links-style golf course with a second hole that runs along the ocean. Its tennis club has eleven clay tennis courts, a swimming pool, and a salt water swimming area affectionately called The Salt Tank. Lessons for kids and adults include tennis, golf, swimming, sailing, windsurfing and kayaking. Hay Harbor also maintains a sailing club. With the magnificent winds that swirl all around the island, sailing is a popular pastime for people summering at the island. Currently the general manager of the Hay Harbor is Thomas P. Mackey.

Fishers Island Yacht Club (FIYC) holds races every Saturday during the summer. There are two active racing fleets: the International One Designs (IODs), which is composed of boats designed in 1936 by Bjarne Aas of Norway, and the Bullseyes, a fleet of boats designed by Nathanael Herreshoff in 1916. The club has two small buildings and is casual. It hosts several parties during the summer, as well as weekly picnic barbecues.

West harbor, a large harbor that is used mainly by the FIYC, is also home to dock beach. The smallest beach on the island, it hosts barbecues and family events. It is also a prime location from which to view the Dupont fireworks display, administered by FIOA (Fishers Island's Own Army), on the Fourth of July.

The most well known beaches include South Beach, Isabela Beach, Chocomount Beach (said to be visited by ghosts, including that of Captain Chocomount), and the Big Club Beach.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 289 people, 138 households, and 77 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 71.3 per square mile (27.6/km2). There were 625 housing units at an average density of 154.2/sq mi (59.6/km2). The racial makeup of the community was 95.50% White, 1.04% African American, 1.04% Asian, and 2.42% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.38% of the population.

There were 138 households out of which 26.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.2% were married couples living together, 5.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.5% were non-families. 34.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.09 and the average family size was 2.72.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 2.1% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 18.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 105.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.2 males.

The median income for a household in the community was $50,521, and the median income for a family was $59,583. Males had a median income of $47,917 versus $26,250 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $31,652. About 4.5% of families and 9.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.8% of those under the age of eighteen and 7.9% of those sixty five or over.

Unofficially, the summer population swells to about 2000

References

External links




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