3. Execution Rocks Lighthouse
The ominously named Execution Rocks Lighthouse sits on a rocky stretch of reef in the Long Island Sound, not far from City Island and Hart Island in the Bronx. Legend has it that the moniker comes from executions carried out on the island by the British before the American Revolution. The British allegedly would chained prisoners to the rocks at low tide and let them drown when high tide came in, but there is no evidence to support this. The official origin story of the name comes from the treacherous, rocky terrain of the area which has led to many boats being “executed” as they tried to pass.
The light house was designed by architect Alexander Parris, who also built Boston’s St. Paul’s Cathedral and Quincy Market, and placed on the largest rock of the reef. Granite for the construction of the fifty-eight foot tower and accompanying keeper’s home was quarried from Manhattan at the site of excavation for the construction of the Hotel Continental, located at Broadway and 41st Street. The lighthouse became active in 1850 and was manned until December 1979 when it became automated. In 2007 the Coast Guard offered the site to eligible organizations through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 which allowed for Federally-owned historic light stations deemed excess to be transferred at no cost to Federal agencies, State and local governments, nonprofit corporations, educational agencies, and community development organizations. Two years later, Historically Significant Structures received the deed for the lighthouse for just $1, since there were no other bidders. Today, you can tour the lighthouse on a day trip, stay overnight, or even host an event there.