Memory Monday: See How Montauk Has Changed Since the Early 1930s


Montauk in the 1930s was a far, far different place than it is today. In 1925, Carl Fisher bought the entire peninsula of Montauk, 10,000 acres in all for $2.5M (that’s about $315M in today’s dollars). His dream was to develop Montauk into the Miami Beach of the North. (He’d already built Miami Beach!) Fisher then immediately began putting up buildings, many of which are still here.

The 250-room Manor Hotel opened in June 1927. Fisher also built a polo field, the Montauk Yacht Club, the Montauk Tennis Auditorium (now the Playhouse), the Surf Club, the Beach Casino, and a boardwalk. He put up the seven story Montauk Beach Development Corporation office tower, then the tallest building on Long Island.

The office tower, which is now condos, along with some shops, including what’s now White’s Liquors, is on the left in the old picture.

By the early 30s, when these pictures were taken, Fisher’s vision was over. The stock market crashed in 1929 and the Montauk Beach Development Company went into receivership in 1932. Montauk was just a small fishing village again with a collection of Tudor-style buildings.

The Montauk Tavern (above), now Herb’s Market and the Shagwong, was built in 1927. (Unfortunately, for both the new photos, it’s impossible, of course, to get the same angle/distance as the 1930s photos.)

Yet, of course, Montauk was in for a battering in the great hurricane of 1938, which destroyed much of the old fishing village. Most of what was left, such as the Trail’s End restaurant, was moved to what is now the downtown.

Getting back to the early 30s when these photos were taken, here is a mystery photo: can you name this building? Scroll down and leave an answer in the comments!