For many years, the first light that new Americans coming from Europe would see would be that of the New York Fire Island Lighthouse. Construction on the lighthouse was completed in 1858, and the beacon of the lighthouse still shines today.
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Even though the lighthouse complex is still technically owned by the Coast Guard, it is currently operated and maintained by the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society, who works alongside the National Park Service to maintain the lighthouse itself, and the exhibits/educational programs that surround it.
Recently, the original Fresnel lens that kept the lighthouse up and running for countless years has been returned to the site, in its own building that was built specifically to house it. Today, the lens powering the lighthouse is a two 1000-watt bulb construct, but nothing matches the splendor of an old-style lens like the Fresnel.
One of the most popular things to do at the New York Fire Island Lighthouse is to watch the sunset from the unique vantage point atop the tower. Getting to the top is a chore, as the only way is up the 156 steps and two small ladders, but the view is worth the effort.