Fire Island Pines, New York

Fire Island Pines, New York

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Fire Island Pines, New York
settlement_type = Hamlet
nickname =
motto =

imagesize = 250px
image_caption = The marina from the west side shops area looking east



pushpin_label_position =
pushpin_map_caption =Location within the state of New York

dot_mapsize = 250px
dot_map_caption =
dot_x = 104
dot_y= 61

subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = New York
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Suffolk
government_footnotes =
government_type =
leader_title =
leader_name =
leader_title1 =
leader_name1 =
established_title = Lots first sold
established_date = 1952
unit_pref = Imperial
area_footnotes =
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 =
area_land_km2 =
area_water_km2 =
area_total_sq_mi =
area_land_sq_mi =
area_water_sq_mi =

population_as_of = 2004
population_footnotes =
population_total = 12 (fulltime)/2,500 to 3,000(seasonal)
population_density_km2 =
population_density_sq_mi =

timezone = Eastern (EST)
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m =
elevation_ft =
latd = 40 |latm = 39 |lats = 55 |latNS = N
longd = 73 |longm = 4 |longs = 6 |longEW = W

postal_code_type = ZIP code
postal_code = 11782
area_code = 631
blank_name =
blank_info =
blank1_name =
blank1_info =
website = [ Fire Island Property Owners Association]
footnotes =

Fire Island Pines (often referred to as The Pines or simply Pines) is a hamlet in the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York, United States. It is located on Fire Island, a barrier island on the southern side of Long Island.

Fire Island Pines, along with neighboring Cherry Grove, comprise the gay community on Fire Island.

The Pines, which has the most expensive real estate on Fire Island, has approximately 700 houses on its square mile of location. It has two-thirds of the swimming pools on Fire Island. [ [ Fire Island Pines Chamber of Commerce - Retrieved October 31, 2007] ] Its summer seasonal population is between 2,500 and 3,000 and in 2004 12 people listed it as their full time residence. [Havens: Fire Island Pines, N.Y. – New York Times – May 14, 2004]

Transportation is via foot on the boardwalks. If a person wishes to carry groceries, the traditional way to do so is to pull toy wagons (commonly the popular Radio Flyer).


Fire Island Pines, derives its name from the scrub pine trees in the area which, according to legend, started growing after a ship with Christmas trees and holly foundered off its coast in the late 1800s. [ [ Sites for Houses Are Being Offered In Division of Estate on Fire Island] ]

The Pines was originally the site of a Coast Guard station built in 1876 and known as Lone Hill Saving Station. The area was purchased by the Home Guardian Company in 1924. As no development occurred the area became a popular nude beach. [ [ When Ocean Meets Sky - Variety - July 12, 2004] ] . Squatters erected temporary buildings. [ [ At the Pines, Sadness Amid The Splendor - New York Times - August 1, 1993] ]

The Smadbecks

Plans for development first began in 1952 when Warren and Arthur Smadbeck, doing business as the Home Guardian Company, announced plans to sell 122 lots in the new subdivision while building a private harbor for yachts, a large landing dock, and a private park facing the harbor. The Smadbecks, who sold more than 700,000 lots around the country, had purchased the property from the Sammis family, which had owned it since buying most of Fire Island in 1855 when they built the Surf Hotel near the Fire Island Light, in what is now the community of Kismet.

The basic Smadbeck layout of the Pines remains to this day, including the Botel which was designed to be a simple, no-frills, dormitory style accommodation for those who docked their yachts docked in the harbor.

Among the earliest property owners were Pola Negri, Xavier Cugat, Mary Martin. A 15-year-old Jane Fonda taught dance classes. [ [ SAGE Nets $35K at Annual Pines Fête - - June 25, 2008] ]

The Botel and associated yacht club buildings burned on May 31, 1959. [Blaze on Fire Island - New York Times - June 1, 1959]

John B. Whyte

Former male model John B. Whyte encouraged its reputation as a gay destination after buying the rebuilt Botel Pines and Dunes Yacht Club in the 1960s (Cherry Grove was already a gay destination when Whyte developed the Pines). The Botel is now the Hotel Ciel and still the central landmark and only hotel in the Pines. Whyte bought the property after a May 31, 1959 fire destroyed the entire complex. [Blaze on Fire Island - New York Times - June 1, 1959]

The conversion to a gay destination proved divisive among the initial owners. A large sign near the dock headlined, "Welcome to Fire Island Pines A Family Community." [ [ When Ocean Meets Sky: Photos from Documentary -] ] It also proclaimed "We believe in a community that is clean both morally and physically." [ [ When Ocean Meets Sky - Variety - July 12, 2004] ]

Whyte bent rules to accommodate the gay crowd. "We had a hully-gully line right here in the restaurant. I would put a girl at each end -- men weren't allowed to dance with men back then -- and everyone would have a good time." [ [ At the Pines, Sadness Amid The Splendor - New York Times - August 1, 1993] ]

Among the visitors in the 1960s included Heddy Lamarr, Betty Grable and Zachary Scott. [ [ At the Pines, Sadness Amid The Splendor - New York Times - August 1, 1993] ]

Whyte, who owned 80 percent of the commercial property in the Pines, instituted the community’s central social activity schedule of “Low Tea” (drinks -- particularly the "Blue Whale" cocktail of Curaçao liqueur and vodka that turned patrons' tongues blue -- at the Blue Whale from 5 PM to 8 PM) followed by “High Tea (drinks at the Pavilion from 8 to 10 PM) followed by an evening of dancing at the Pavilion [ [ The Dearly Departed, Class of '04; John B. Whyte -- Mr. Fire Island Pines – New York Times – December 26, 2004] ] (all of which were Whyte establishments).

All of the commercial buildings are located in the "harbor" area which is where the ferry from Sayville docks. The harbor also includes docks for yachts. Regularly scheduled seaplanes during the season from New York City connect disembark their passengers at the Harbor.

The central dance club was the Sandpiper which in 1979 became the Pavilion before being razed at the end of the 2006 season and replaced with the “New Pavilion” in 2007.

The Pines Scene

While all of Fire Island may have an official year-round population of 310, the summer population swells to much higher levels especially on weekends. In the Pines, the large houses are filled with summer shares and a 4 bedroom house can easily contain 8 people at a time. The population is primarily gay men from 20-50 years old. It is affectionately referred to as "Chelsea with sand." (Chelsea is one of Manhattan's gay neighborhoods.)

Two of the Pines's most famous events are the Pines Party, an all-night dance party held each July on the beach, and the Invasion of the Pines, a drag-queen parade held each year on July 4th, commemorating the time when Whyte refused service to a drag queen. After promenading through the Pines, the drag queens from Cherry Grove proclaim victory and return to Cherry Grove.

The forest between it and Cherry Grove has been nicknamed the "meat rack" because of sexual liaisons occurring at all hours in it with the Village People in the anthem entitled "Fire Island" warning "Don't go in the bushes, someone might grab ya". [ [ - Lyrics to Fire Island] ] The Meat Rack is even celebrated each year with a "Mr. Meatrack" contest at the Ice Palace

After its reputation was ruined by AIDS-related fatalities among its regulars in the late 1980s and early 1990s, GMHC began hosting the Morning Party fundraiser on the beach. The party evolved into a major Circuit Party and was GMHC's biggest fundraising event. However the party itself developed a reputation for being connected with unsafe sex and recreational drug use.

GMHC pulled the plug after the 1998 fundraiser after one man died of an overdose of the drug gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB) the evening before the party and 21 revelers were arrested for drug possession. [ [ - The Advocate - February 2, 1999] ]

Despite the loss of the high profile sponsor the party continued under the name of the Pines Party which is held on the last weekend of July. Proceeds go to lower profile organizations of the Stonewall Community Foundation (which uses the money to help those with HIV) and the Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association Charitable Foundation (which uses the funds to make improvements to the common areas). [ [ Pines Party - - Retrieved November 3, 2007] ]

Drug use connected with the parties has remained high with the resident doctor Ed Schulhafer sending out a memo to residents following the another GHB fatality in 2007 stating: "This tragic incident follows an unprecedented number of GHB overdoses at the Pines Party, July 29." [ [ Gays Break Records For Deadly Drug Overdoses This Summer - Gawker.Com - August 23, 2007] ]

People associated with Fire Island Pines

* Calvin Klein, Former Resident
* David Geffen, Former Resident
* Robin Byrd, Resident
* Michael Lucas, Resident; director who has short several films on the island

ee also

"Boys in the Sand"


External links

* [ Fire Island Q News - Fire Island Pines & Cherry Grove Monthly Gay Webzine]
* [ Fire Island News and Online Travel Guide]
* [ Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines News and Travel Guide]
* [ Grove Pines Connect - 24/7 Gay Social Networking Haven]

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