Photo Essay: Jones Beach State Park on Long Island, New York

By Paul Riegler on 19 May 2020
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In New York, summer to many people means Jones Beach State Park, commonly referred to as Jones Beach, one of the state’s majestic ocean parks and a barrier island on Long Island’s south shore.

Jones Beach appears to be little changed from when it opened 90 years ago this summer. In addition to six and a half miles (ten and a half kilometers) of sand that gleams in the summer sun, the boardwalk area welcomes guests with ship-funnel trashcans and shuffleboard courts meant to evoke an ocean liner voyage.

Even before the official opening each year on Memorial Day Weekend, blue-grey waves roll in, delighting beachgoers with another blissful day at Robert Moses’ first public works project. But the beach is only part of Jones Beach State Park, a colossus crafted by Moses, who found something completely different in 1929 when he began to sketch out its layout and design. It was “an isolated swampy sandbar accessible only by small boats and infrequent ferries, inhabited by fishermen and loners, surf-casters and assorted oddballs and beachcombers trying to get away from it all,” he recalled.

On a hot spring afternoon in mid-May, it was the oddballs, the beachcombers, and FBT Editorial Director Jonathan Spira who had the run of the place, although over eight million people visited it in 2019, making it the single most popular site in the state park system.  The park is open 365 days a year. Some people arrive before daybreak for the sunrise, others in the evening for the sunset.  Still others stay into the night, enjoying the breaking waves, particularly enticing in the light of a full moon.

The possibilities for entertainment here are endless, ranging from bathhouses, swimming and diving pools, a stillwater bathing bay, a nature preserve, shuffleboard, a boardwalk with one million feet  (304,800 meters) of planks, picnic tables, refreshment stands, a bait-and-tackle shop, scenic dunes, and two stages including an amphitheater that seats 15,000, originally the site of Broadway extravaganzas staged by Guy Lombardo.







(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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