Day 1171

Coney Island Light

March 15th, 2015

This lighthouse at the western tip of Coney Island, in what is now the gated community of Sea Gate, was built in 1890. In 2003, the final lighthouse keeper to serve here, Frank Schubert (photos), passed away at the age of 88 in the adjacent cottage (at right), where he had lived since taking the job in 1960. Prior to his death, Coney Island Light was one of only two manned lighthouses remaining in the country, the other being the 1783 Boston Light, whose original 1716 incarnation was America's first lighthouse. Mr. Schubert was for some time the nation's last civilian lighthouse keeper — Boston Light had long been staffed by Coast Guard personnel — but a few months before he died, a civilian named Sally Snowman was hired as the keeper of Boston Light, becoming the first female ever to hold that position. And now that Mr. Schubert has passed away, she's the only lighthouse keeper left in the United States.


  1. Maureen says:

    Is this the remains of a wall or just regular trash? Does the rest of the beach look like this too?

    • Matt Green says:

      The riprap is part of what appears to be a rather old breakwater or seawall stretching more than a quarter of the way around Sea Gate’s shoreline (aerial views: 1924, 2012).

      I’m not sure about the other debris. It may be wreckage from Hurricane Sandy — Sea Gate got walloped — but it also may have been there well before the storm. In 1991, Sea Gate dumped construction debris on the beach in an attempt to control erosion, although the state Department of Environmental Conservation later ordered the debris to be removed.

      There’s not much beach at this spot, but most of the Sea Gate shoreline is nice and sandy (aerial view). The beach on the north side is relatively new, however. It began forming in the 1990s, an unintended result of shoreline protection measures implemented on the public Coney Island beach. Sea Gate put up a fence on the north side to keep outsiders like me from walking into the community via the beach, but the beach has since continued to grow beyond the end of the fence, creating an unobstructed shoreline once again.

  2. Maureen says:

    Thanks for all the info. Your photo was a bit surprising since the beach at Coney Island, on the other side of the jetty is usually very clean.

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