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Jones Beach State Park in New York | Walk Through Jones Beach State Park in New York |
ones Beach State Park (colloquially “Jones Beach”) is a state park of the U.S. state of New York. It is in southern Nassau County, in the hamlet of Wantagh, on Jones Beach Island, a barrier island linked to Long Island by the Meadowbrook State Parkway, Wantagh State Parkway, and Ocean Parkway.
The park – 6.5 miles (10.5 km) in length – is renowned for its beaches (which, excepting the beach on Zachs Bay, face the open Atlantic Ocean) and furnishes one of the most popular summer recreational locations for the New York metropolitan area. It is the most popular and heavily visited beach on the East Coast, with an estimated six million visitors per year.
Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, an outdoor arena in the park, is a popular musical and concert venue. The park also includes a two-mile (3.2 km) long boardwalk. It once featured dining and catering facilities that were popular sites for private parties and weddings; these have been shut down.
Jones Beach is named after Major Thomas Jones, a major in the Queens County militia in the 1600s who established a whaling station on the outer beach near the site of the present park.
The park was created during Robert Moses’ administration as President of the Long Island State Park Commission as part of the development of parkways on Long Island.
Moses’ first major public project, Jones Beach is free from housing developments and private clubs, and instead is open for the general public. Several homes on High Hill Beach were barged further down the island to West Gilgo Beach to make room for the park.
When Moses’ group first surveyed Jones Island, it was swampy and only two feet (0.61 m) above sea level; the island frequently became completely submerged during storms. To create the park, huge dredgers worked day and up to midnight to bring sand from the bay bottom, eventually bringing the island to 12 feet (3.7 m) above sea level. Another problem that followed was the wind—the fine silver beach sand would blow horribly, making the workers miserable and making the use of the beach as a recreational facility unlikely. Moses sent landscape architects to other stable Long Island beaches, who reported that a beach grass (Ammophila arenaria), whose roots grew sideways in search of water, held dunes in place, forming a barrier to the wind. In the summer of 1928, thousands of men worked on the beach planting the grass by hand.
Built in the 1920s, many of its buildings and facilities feature Art Deco architecture. In the center of a traffic circle that he planned as a terminus for the Wantagh State Parkway, Moses ordered the construction of an Italianate-style water tower to serve as a central feature of the park. Two large bathhouses are also prominent features within the park. After rejecting a number of submissions by architects for the bathhouses, Moses selected the designs of the young and relatively inexperienced Herbert Magoon. Moses also picked out building materials—Ohio Sandstone and Barbizon brick—two of the most expensive materials available.
The park opened to the public on August 4, 1929, along with the causeway that provided automobile access from the mainland of Long Island. The causeway was the first section in what was to become the Wantagh State Parkway. Unusually for the time, no carnival-style amusements were allowed in the park area.
Jones Beach is accessible by car, boat, bicycle, and in the summer season by bus. Most visitors arrive by car via the Meadowbrook State Parkway or the Wantagh State Parkway; the recreation area is also accessible via the Ocean Parkway. A significant portion of visitors take the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to Freeport and then a bus to Jones Beach.
Boaters often anchor on the bay side of Jones Beach (i.e., Zachs Bay), especially at night during a show such as the fireworks show on July 4.
As of 2016, parking costs $10.00 ($8.00 when the beach is closed), though a New York State Empire Passport ($65.00) can be used to park for free. Parking fees are charged from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, and from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays from Memorial Day through Columbus day. The six main public parking areas along the boardwalk can handle 14,302 vehicles. The center parking fields are the busiest on summer weekends. Bicycle parking is free. Cars were formerly able to pay parking fees for all fields at manned toll booths on the highways approaching the park, however as of 2017 fees are now paid through automated machines at the entrances to the fields.
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