Cherry Grove, New York facts for kids
|Nickname(s): The Grove|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||946512|
Cherry Grove (often referred to locally as The Grove) is a hamlet in the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York, United States. It is located on Fire Island, a barrier island separated from the southern side of Long Island by the Great South Bay. The hamlet has approximately 300 houses on 41 acres (170,000 m2), a summer seasonal population of 2,000 and a year-round population of 15.
Cherry Grove, along with nearby Fire Island Pines, is considered one of the most popular lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)-accepting resort communities in the United States. The New York Times quoted one homeowner at Cherry Grove that, "this [is a] wonderful environment where you could be gay and open and hold hands and enjoy life...."
In 2015, Cherry Grove was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Cherry Grove has been settled for almost 150 years. Cherry Grove dates its modern history to the 1868 purchase by Archer and Elizabeth Perkinson. They bought the land between Lone Hill (now Fire Island Pines) and the Cherry Grove Hotel from the ocean to the bay for 25 cents per acre and named the area for the black-cherry trees in the area. The Perkinsons opened a hotel in 1880. According to local legend Oscar Wilde stayed at the Perkinson Hotel.
In 1921 the Perkisons sold all the land east of Duryea Walk to Lone Hill, and then divided what was left, into 109 building lots. A lot 50 x 80 feet (24 m) could be bought for $250 or less, and ocean-front lots cost no more than a dollar a front foot. Buildings from the newly deactivated Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York, were ported over to form the core of the new colony. A post office was established in 1922 at the site of where "Tides" (formerly “The Monster”) is today; The first boardwalks were built in 1929. In 1930 Duffy’s Hotel replaced the original hotel and was the only place with electricity and a phone.
The Great Hurricane of 1938 destroyed much of Cherry Grove and discouraged mainlanders from coming. In their stead a new generation started coming from Manhattan including Greta Garbo, Xavier Cugat, Paulette Goddard, Pola Negri, Arlene Francis, and Earl Blackwell (publisher of the International Celebrity Register).
Duffy’s burned on September 27, 1956, and was replaced by the Ice Palace Hotel which has remained a popular destination. John Eberhardt, a developer who died in 2014, was credited for building the Belvedere Hotel and many other properties in the hamlet, from 1956 to the 1970s.
The Grove has become home to three massive homes: Cielo E Mar (an aria from the 1876 opera La Gioconda which translates to "Sky and Sea"), the Belvedere, and Bottom of the Garden. While the Grove has its charms, several residents in 2005 expressed concerns about the lack of any services and population in the winter, the high cost of food and beverages, some "disrespectful visitors who come to party ... 'Day trippers'" (especially on the 4th of July), over-regulation of zoning by Town of Brookhaven, and a large population of voracious deer who eat up both beach grass and private gardens. A new generation of entertainers and socialites call Cherry Grove their summer home, including Hedda Lettuce, Michael Musto, Empress XII Panzi, Yamaneika Saunders, Sonny Shores and Wanda Sykes.
A "pop-up" urgent care clinic opened in 2014, which is part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System; a golf cart for emergency medical services was also purchased for the Grove, for the new 24/7 paramedic services. Local residents, "raised about $90,000 from donors to hire locally based paramedics, which have responded to more than 30 calls since May as of mid-August and will remain staffed through the end of September, when bustling crowds thin out at the beach."
In the early morning hours of March 27, 2015, an epic fire of historic proportions "destroyed" the Grove Hotel, Holly House, and two residential homes nearby; 23 fire companies responded from Fire Island and the south shore of Long Island and three firefighters were injured. The fire "engulfed" the surrounding properties, but the fire departments were able to put out the blaze, in this, "one of the most popular LGBTI destinations." According to its social media accounts, the Ice Palace, a famous nightclub, "had negligible damage", but was not destroyed along with the hotel.
The entire community has a single seasonal post office, on Bayview Walk near the main dock, open from May 1 to October 31, which is a popular place to congregate. Full services, such as money orders, are available at the Sayville, New York post office, reachable from the ferry. The ZIP code is 11782.
Despite the small size of the hamlet, at about 41 acres, the community is further divided into three or four neighborhoods, from west to east:
- The quiet, residential West End, where the few year-round residents live in about 100 houses marked by stone chimneys, runs across the island from West Walk to Holly Walk. This was formerly the home of artist Paul Cadmus.
- The central business district, or Town, from Holly Walk to Doctor's Walk, and the beach to the bay, includes the Fire House, Community Center/Arts Project, Grove Hotel, a clinic, and the public ferry dock, as well as a few cooperatives, bars, grocery stores, art galleries, realtors, and restaurants. It is more densely settled than the rest of the hamlet. Several major structures in the center were "destroyed" by a large fire in March 2015, including the Grove Hotel and Holly House.
- The residential East End, from Doctor's Walk to Ivy Walk, and south of Bayside Walk, consists exclusively of about 100 private homes, almost all of which are seasonal. The northeastern section of the East End, north of Bayview Walk, has a few private homes and the Belvedere Guest House for Men; some properties also have their own private docks. Once connected to Fire Island Pines, erosion and rising waters caused a collapse of the northeastern extension of Bayview Walk. Most of Bay Walk was reconstructed in spring 2014.
Cherry Grove is accessible via two major walks (Bayview and Lewis), which are generally parallel to the beach, and sixteen minor walks (Ivy, Sumner, Maryland, Aeon, Gerard, Greene, Duryea, Doctors, Main, Ocean, Holly, Surf, Beach, Sea, East, and West), which are generally perpendicular to the beach. South Walk (not shown in the map at right) is parallel to the beach and extends between Surf and Beach Walks.
Recreation and sites of interest
The Community House, located near the intersection of Holly and Bayview Walks, provides a wide variety of public services to the Grove. Generally speaking, gay couples and activities are the norm. In 2013 the Cherry Grove Community House and Theatre was named to the National Register of Historic Places for "the enormous role it played in shaping what gradually evolved into America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town."
The main outdoor attraction is the beach and the surrounding protected portions of the Fire Island National Seashore. Clothing-optional sunbathing is common at the beach.
Entertainment and dining
There are at least six restaurants that operate within Cherry Grove, varying from pizza and breakfast to seafood and fine-dining. Also, there are at least four entertainment venues hosting plays, art shows, dancing and various community events.
Fauna and flora
The ecosystem of Cherry Grove is primarily pine barrens; however, there are several microclines and ecological niches.
Deer are common and quite tame on Fire Island. As noted, some resident consider deer to be a nuisance, while others enjoy seeing wildlife close to their summer homes.
Racoons, foxes, and many species of birds can be seen throughout the summer.
Cherry Grove is named for the many wild cherry trees that bloom each June in the area.
Cherry Grove is only accessible by water with most residents and visitors using a passenger ferry or private water taxi. A small marina is also available. There are no private vehicles in this part of Fire Island, although police and service vehicles are seen on the beach from time to time. The Grove has no paved roads and the cottages and beach are only accessible using a series of wooden boardwalks.
Passengers connecting between the Sayville LIRR Station and the Sayville Ferry service can pay for a shuttle van or taxi cab ride, or may walk or ride their bicycle the mile and a half distance. People driving cars may park in large, gravel parking lots across the street from the ferry dock. A small marina is also available nearby.
Fire Island Water Taxi
Visitors arriving by car may park at the Robert Moses State Park “Field Five” parking lot. After reaching the Fire Island Lighthouse, the Fire Island Water Taxi will ferry paying customers to the Grove. A water taxi provides short-distance transportation for those moving from place to place along the coast of Fire Island. The fare and schedule for the taxi service varies by season.
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Cherry Grove, New York Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.