Potted History of Montauk

This wasn’t our first visit to Long Island, we had spent a few days here in September 2015 when we stayed in Sag Harbor. I much enjoyed that trip and had been looking for an excuse to return. I decided it would be the perfect spot for a few days of R&R before a hectic time for my beloved at the Greater New York Dental Meeting.

This time I decided to stay in Montauk, a hamlet at the east end of Long Island, located on the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island Sound. I first heard about the place from one of my girlfriends who’d had a beach house here in the 1980s. It’s a well-known spot for beautiful beaches, like Ditch Plains; fishing; surfing; paddling; seafood restaurants; nature trails; music and art festivals. Montauk Point State Park is home to the national landmark, the historic Montauk Point Lighthouse (top left).

Around the turn of the century, Montauk caught the attention of two remarkable real estate investors, Carl Fisher and his predecessor Arthur Benson. Benson bought Montauk in its entirety in 1879 for a mere US$151,000 – you might just be able to buy a garage for that now. And years later, in the 1920s, Fisher bought up 10,000 acres and began to develop Montauk as the “Miami beach of the North”. Both men recognized the “magic” of Montauk and dreamed of turning it into a retreat for the rich and famous, but it was Fisher who really left his mark. He built a luxurious hotel, the Montauk Manor and Playhouse, polo grounds, a beach club, the Montauk Yacht Club, a golf club and among other places, his own office, the Montauk Tower, a unique seven story building that stands today in the centre of the village.

The Great Depression put a halt to the development of Montauk as a high end resort though today, nearly a century later, the dreams of those early investors have been realised as Montauk has become a veritable playground. Though not as upmarket as its Hampton neighbours, make no mistake, Montauk is still enjoyed by families and old timers, but it has truly become a high-end destination frequented  by celebrities, artists, musicians, and us!