Description: In response to steamship concerns regarding the dangerous shoals on the eastern shore of the Hudson River just north of New York City, Congress authorized the building of a lighthouse in 1847 near Tellers Point and Sing Sing Prison. Officials, however, changed their mind and a site a few miles south was chosen instead. The new site was part of a profitable vineyard operated by Kingsland Point Property, and the two parties could not agree on a selling price, delaying the project indefinitely.
Captain Joseph Ackerman lit the light for the first time on October 1, 1883, a ceremony he would repeat many times during his twenty-one years of service at the rock-rimmed cast-iron tower. The 54-foot-tall conical tower consists of five levels. The first level, having a diameter of eighteen feet, served as a combination kitchen/dining room/living room. Bedrooms were located on the next two levels. The fourth level was split into two rooms, a bedroom and a small storeroom. The fifth level stored fog bell equipment, and the lantern room topped it all off.
The only Caisson style lighthouse on the Hudson River, the Tarrytown Lighthouse housed a fourth-order Fresnel lens, which originally exhibited a fixed white light characteristic from a 56-foot focal plane. The characteristic was switched to fixed-red in 1894 and then in 1902, it was changed to flashing red.
General Motors expanded its automobile plant along the river in 1923, altering the course of the Pocantico River. Slowly, the east shore of the Hudson River expanded until only 50 feet separated the lighthouse from the shoreline.
When the Tappan Zee Bridge was completed in 1955, the Tarrytown Light was no longer needed. Its candlepower was reduced from 7000 to 1500 in 1957, and the inevitable deactivation occurred in 1961. The lighthouse was listed for disposal and fell into disrepair.
In 1969, Westchester County began plans to accept the lighthouse from the General Services Administration (GSA), and ownership was transferred in 1974. Westchester County has worked diligently to restore and maintain the structure. During the 1970s, a metal footbridge was constructed to connect the lighthouse to the shoreline.
On October 1, 1983, the 100th anniversary of the beacon’s first lighting, the Tarrytown Lighthouse was opened to the public. Today, Westchester County occasionally conducts tours of the lighthouse, treating visitors to furnishings and photographs depicting life at the lighthouse.
As part of a $800,000 project, funded by Westchester County and the Village of Sleepy Hollow, the lighthouse will be stabilized, have its wooden floors replaced, and receive a new coat of paint. The work should be finished in 2013.
Located just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge
(Interstate 287) on the eastern shore of the
Hudson River. The lighthouse is owned by Westchester County Parks. Tower closed.
The lighthouse is owned by Westchester County Parks. Tower closed.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.