Jones Beach State Park
(colloquially, "Jones Beach") is a state park
of the U.S. state
of New York
. It is located in southern Nassau County
, in the hamlet of Wantagh
, on Jones Beach Island
, a barrier island
linked to Long Island
by the Meadowbrook Parkway
and Wantagh Parkway
across the Great South Bay
The park is renowned for its excellent beaches, 10 mi (13.5 km) in length, facing 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.
Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, an outdoor arena in the park, is a popular musical concert venue. The park also has a 2 mi (3.2 km) long boardwalk. It once featured dining and catering facilities that are popular sites for private parties and weddings; these have been shut down.
Development by Robert Moses
The park was created during the administration of Robert Moses
as President of the Long Island State Park Commission
(for which he wrote the legislation in 1923) as part of the development of state parks
on Long Island. Moses' first major public project, Jones Beach State Park, is considered to be one of the most beautiful parks in the world, free from housing developers 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's group first surveyed Jones Island
, it was swampy and only two feet above sea level. The island would frequently become completely submerged during storms. To create the park, huge dredgers worked day and night to bring up sand from under the ocean, eventually bringing the island to twelve feet above sea level. Another problem that followed was the wind - the beach sand would blow horribly, making the workers miserable, and making the use of the beach as a recreational facility unlikely. The builders discovered that the secret to beach stability was the beach grass, whose roots would grow sideways and hold 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. The park opened to the public on August 4th, 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
Unusual for the time, no carnival type amusements were permitted in the park area.
The primary buildings on the Jones Beach site are the two enormous bathhouses (west and east) and the 231-foot water tower
, all built to Moses's specifications. After rejecting a number of submissions by architects for the bathhouses, he 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.
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
. A significant portion of visitors take the LIRR
and then a bus to Jones Beach. Boaters often anchor on the bay side of Jones Beach (i.e. "Zach's Bay"), especially at night during a show such as the fireworks show on July 4
A Greenway alongside the Wantagh State Parkway allows bicycling, skating or walking about 4 miles from Cedar Creek County Park on Merrick Road into the State Park. A similar route to Long Beach is under consideration.
As of 2006, parking costs $8.00, though a NY State Empire Passport can be used to park for free. The parking fees are charged from 6 am - 6 pm Sat-Sun-Hol, 8 am - 4 pm weekdays from Memorial Day through Columbus day. The six main public parking areas along the boardwalk can handle as many as 250,000 visitors. The center parking fields are the busiest on summer weekends. Bicycle parking is free, but bike riding within the park is not allowed during the summer and bikes must be locked at the racks at the end of the Wantagh Parkway bike path.
There are multiple concession stands along the boardwalk in season. A few of the larger concessions stay open past the main summer season. Beach dining and catering facilities no longer exist at Jones Beach.
The Boardwalk Cafe was a large restaurant with an expansive ocean view, built in 1966. It was demolished in 2004 due to erosion from the natural elements, and will be replaced. A replacement $30 million, 350-seat, 70,000-square-foot restaurant/catering hall called Trump on the Ocean to be operated by Donald Trump has been tied up in fights with state to get a permit. Its plans include a 26,710 square-foot basement which the state says is illegal in a flood plain.
There are two swimming pools available for public use at Jones Beach; the West Bath House pool is traditionally open all week long, while the East Bath House pool is weekends-only.
The West Bath House is also home to a Friendly's ice cream parlor on the upper level - the patio outside overlooks both the pool and the ocean, and there's also a mini bandshell area.
Jones Beach's West End features a nature preserve named after Theodore Roosevelt and a designated surfing area, which is open by permit only to stargazers and fisherman at night.
Jones Beach Theater is host to many shows, including popular concerts. It is directly across the street from the ocean and is outdoors in an open natural environment.
A half a mile north of the beach is the 15,200 seat Nikon at Jones Beach Theater . This outdoor amphitheatre opened in 1952 and hosts numerous world famous musicians during the summer months.
Since 2004, Jones Beach has hosted the New York Air Show during the last weekend of May(Memorial Day Weekend).The air show is one of the largest in the United States, hosting 403,000 people over two-days during the 2006 air show.