Barrier Beaches Community Profile

Hamlet of the Barrier Beaches

Historical Summary

The first permanent structures built on the barrier beaches were the U.S. Life-Saving Service stations at Oak Beach and Gilgo Beach, in 1872. The Coast Guard took over the Life-Saving Service in 1915, and the Oak Beach station was active through World War II.

U.S. Life-Saving Station at Oak Beach, circa 1910.

Henry Livingston, editor of the South Side Signal newspaper, built the first beach cottage on Oak Island in 1879, named “Little Rest.” 

Prior to the construction of bridges across the Great South Bay, ferry boats transported visitors to the oceanfront beaches and hotels. Sidney Van Nostrand’s Pavilion at Oak Beach and the Wa Wa Yanda clubhouse on Captree Island were premier destinations for summer travelers from New York City in the early 1900s. The Oak Beach Inn, built in 1935, replaced the Oak Beach Pavilion as a popular social spot.

Oak Beach Inn, circa 1935

The West Gilgo Beach community was formed when residents of High Hill, a Nassau County beach community, were forced to relocate for the 1940s expansion of Ocean Parkway. More than 60 of 80 High Hill cottages were moved to West Gilgo Beach, within the Town of Babylon.

High Hill, circa 1915

Expansion of Ocean Parkway also led to the 1930 elimination of Muncie Island, named for the family who owned the island for more than 100 years.