Weather :

Length : 1.7 miles

Area : 225 acres

Name of the former Long Island Bridge : Long Island Viaduct

Open to the Public : No

Year of Closing : 2014

Notable Buildings : Long Island Head Light, (Mary) Morris Building, Nicholas Building, Department of Environmental Protection and Boston Edison Air Monitoring Stations, McGillivray Building etc.

Social Service Facilities : Long Island Health Campus, Long Island Shelter, Joelyn’s Family Home, Project S.O.A.R, Volunteers of America residences (Hello House, Rebound etc.), Engine Company 54 of the Boston Fire Department etc.

Long Island, Boston Overview

Located at the centre of the Boston Harbor, Long Island is a historic island that is no longer open to the public. The island is home to a number of different structures, social service programs and one of the three Harbor lighthouses added to the NRHP, while having served as an important location for colonial tenant farmers and for several wars, including the Revolution.

Long Island is a part of the City of Boston as well as the Boston Harbor Islands Recreational Area, located in the Harbor. Spanning over an area of 225 acres, the island is about 1.75 miles long and can be accessed only via a causeway from the North Quincy Squantum peninsula to Moon Island and then the Long Island Viaduct, a bridge (now demolished), from Moon Island. The island is not open to the public due to old structures posing a danger, and entry into this restricted area requires prior permission.

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About the Long Island Evacuation

Despite the fact that the island is of considerable historical significance, it suffered from prolonged mismanagement, especially the bridge; a lot of the structures were falling apart and were a threat to visitors. It was in 2014 that the Mayor, Martin J. Walsh, decided to close the Long Island Viaduct and to stop all programs on the island, after consulting with various City departments, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and other leaders.

The island is no longer open to the public and anyone who wishes to gain access must take prior permission. Moreover, those living there in homeless shelters or those who were part of recovery programs had to be relocated.

The Fourth Lighthouse on Long Island- Long Island Head Light

Added to the National Register of Historic Places, the Long Island Head Light is located at the northern end of Long Island. A historic structure, it was built in stone in 1819 and was the fourth lighthouse on the island. Initially known as Inner Harbor Light, the structure was about 20 feet tall until it wasn’t being repaired and had to be replaced. Over the years, the structure has undergone several changes, with the stone tower being replaced with a cast iron lighthouse structure, and the lamps and reflectors being replaced with a Fresnel lens.

Moreover, in 1881, the structure was once again replaced with a conical cast iron structure as well as a new wood keeper’s house, only to be moved to another location later. The structure that can be seen on the island today was built around 1900. In 1982, the lighthouse was discontinued by the Coast Guard but the decision was reversed in 1985, following which a modern solar powered system was installed and the entire structure was renovated in 1998.

The Many Social Service Programs on Long Island

Not only is Long Island the site of several notable events in America’s history, this restricted area is home to a number of social service programs. Many homeless as well as alcoholic people were provided shelter here at dormitory facilities and the almshouse while the Chronic Disease Hospital was where many patients and inmates received treatment.

Other social service facilities include the Long Island Health Campus with many buildings, the Long Island Shelter for homeless people, the Wyman Re-entry Program, Joelyn’s Family Home, residences and programs of Volunteers of America as well as Engine Company 54 of the Boston Fire Department right next to the Campus.

Camp Harbor View, a non-profit foundation, was established around 2007 as a teenagers’ day camp and has baseball fields, classrooms, a swimming pool and other facilities about south of the lighthouse. What remains operational today is a 2-acre organic farmland which not only generates produce for the shelters but is also sold for use in Boston restaurants.

Apart from all this, the island is where one would find several chapels, cemeteries, administrative buildings, water towers, lighthouses and remnants of other structures.

Some of the Establishments Found on Long Island

One would find a number of structures on Long Island, a few of which are:
  • Long Island Head Light
  • Our Lady of Hope Chapel
  • Civil War monument and cemetery
  • Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima
  • Department of Environmental Protection and Boston Edison Air Monitoring Stations
  • Former Nike missile facilities (two buildings; vacant)
  • Curley recreation building (vacant)
  • Tobin building

A brief history of Long Island

Originally home to the native American Indians during the colonial period, Long Island was handed over to the City of Boston in the 1630s along with other areas in exchange for rent. The island, that was named after its length, was used primarily by tenant farmers who utilised the land for farming as well as felling trees.

During the King Philip’s War of the 1670s, many Christian “praying Indians” along with Native Americans were moved to Deer Island where many died of starvation and the cold climate. Those who survived were later moved to Long Island. In 1689, John Nelson, who was a local, revolted against the Governor, bought all the property from the tenants except for a small area and mortgaged it. He was later captured by the French and imprisoned, only to return home a hero, after 10 years.

The island served as a defense location during the America Revolution and was also where the British grazed their animals and harvested hay for their horses. When Colonel Greaton arrived in 1775 with about 500 American soldiers and freed the animals, the British forces fired at their whaleboats.

During the early 19th century, there were talks of fortifying the island to avoid the Britishers from entering the Harbor as well as building a lighthouse to ease navigation. Moreover, during the Civil War, the island was used as an American military post while Fort Strong, a U.S Army Coast Artillery fort, was built in the 1890s.

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