Fire Island is unique in its closeness to New York City and in its separation from it. One does not have to move through layers of Bain de Soleil in order to swim on Fire Island, but one does have to cross Long Island and its potato fields become levittowns in order to get the ferries for Fire Island in the first place.

Long Island is the child of the Ice Age, and Fire Island is the child of the sea. Four glaciers, the first a million years and the last 25,000 years ago, descended from the Arctic north, in a swath thousands of miles wide, as far south as Long Island. They carried with them a mass of ice, earth, stone and sand thousands of feet thick and created, as they moved, the Sound, the central elevation, the plains, and most of the Island's other topographical features.

In the thousands of years since, were formed the barrier beaches which now intervene between the South Shore and the sea-Fire Is. land and its counterparts: to the west the Rockaways and Jones Beach; to the east the Hamptons.

Fire Island was born as great rollers, too large to travel to the mainland, broke in the shallow water, at distances ranging between a mile and ten miles from the shore. In their forward motion, the huge breakers scooped up material from the ocean floor and deposited it, as they fell back, in the form of sand bars. Over the centuries, the sand bars grew higher and formed a chain of islets. Eventually the islets were joined together to form the present continuous beach

Fire Island, its shores and elevations constantly shifting, represents a kind of equilibrium among mighty natural forces. On the one hand, the beach is constantly being destroyed by the powers of erosion- the massive storm waves and the tidal currents operating between the Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. On the other hand, it is being built up by the deposits carried to the ocean-front by the parallel "longshore," wind-made waves.

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