What’s Doing on City Island in New York

Whimsical items greet the visitor at the store 239 Play!

By Anna Breuer on 12 September 2018
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City Island, more of a New England fishing village than a neighborhood within the borders of New York City, is a quaint and really small island [it’s only 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) long by .5-mile (.8-kilometer) wide] located at the extreme western end of the Long Island Sound.

The island was originally inhabited by Siwanoy Indians and first settled by Europeans in 1654. In 1761, it was purchased by Benjamin Palmer of New York who envisioned turning the island into a port to compete with New York City’s. Accordingly, he mapped out the island with shipyards, docks, homes, schools, shops, farms, and houses of worship in preparation. Palmer also changed the name from Minefer’s Island to City Island.

Unfortunately, Palmer’s timing was off and the American Revolution intervened. It would take decades until the island saw another revitalization effort, this time with oystermen, boat pilots, and shipbuilders leading the charge.

Stately homes abound

Stately homes abound

In the mid-20th century, in addition to shipbuilding and fishing, the island was an artists’ community and it is home to over 100 artists at the present.

WHAT TO DO

While many come over to the island just to dine, there is so much more to do. Visitors should start with the City Island Nautical Museum, which has artifacts from the community’s boat-building past on display in a landmark 1898 former school building.

With three yacht clubs, City Island is all about boating. The island produced seven America’s Cup-winning yachts and was a major supplier of ships for the Navy during the First and Second World Wars.

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