For more than 200 years, the Montauk Point Lighthouse at the eastern end of Long Island has pulsed like a huge swirling star in a tall bottle. Now, in an era when ships can track their positions with ever more precise marine navigation tools, the lighthouse is a throwback.
So is the lens that has just been installed in the glass-walled lantern room atop the lighthouse. The lens is a huge, upright glass dish that spins on its edge and focuses the rays from an LED into a single intense beam. It turns six times a minute. It flashes every five seconds.
Tick, tick, tick, tick, flash.
The lens is not new: It is the very one that beamed light on the water around Montauk from 1903 to 1987, when the Coast Guard removed it. The replacements required less maintenance, but some Montaukers grumbled that they were dim.
“I would go there at night to take photographs of the lighthouse, and the lights on the outside of the building were brighter than the light in the tower,” recalled Mia Certic, the executive director of the Montauk Historical Society. The group owns the lighthouse, commissioned by President George Washington in 1792 as one of the new nation’s first public works projects and built by John McComb, the architect who later designed Gracie Mansion.
By James Barron. Read the complete article in the New York Times.