Stretching east from New York City lies the well-known island of Long Island, home to the Hamptons, chic summer destinations for upper-class Americans as well as for the rich and famous. Along their Atlantic-kissed beaches, stand majestic mansions and charming towns that abound with trendy boutiques, classy and beautifully restored Inns, fancy restaurants and antique shops.
What makes the Hamptons even more fascinating is their rich history. Until the mid-19th century, Sag Harbor was a major international port for the whaling industry. At one point, it became an even bigger commercial harbor than New York City. Whale industry barons soon began building stately homes and beautiful summer residences, some of which are now museums like the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum on Main Street.
East Hampton was founded in 1648 by Presbyterian farmers for cultivating, fishing, and some whaling. In the late 19th century, the railroad extended first to East Hampton and then to Montauk, and visitors began to summer here. Wealthy New York families soon built what they called “cottages” but really turned out to be spectacular mansions, many of which are still privately used and have been in the same families for several generations.
Montauk is referred to as “The End” and at the tip of Long Island stands the Montauk Point Lighthouse, a national historical landmark. Commissioned by George Washington in 1792 and built in 1796, this beautiful beacon still remains an active aid to navigation today.