Once upon a time, there was no such place as Fire Island. There were barrier islands, but no one had named them because only deer lived there and deer aren’t big on names or boundaries.
Somewhere in the 17th century, William “Tangier” Smith was given title to the whole area under a Royal Patent. The deer continued to be unimpressed. One redwing blackbird looked up for a moment, but didn’t find much to comment about so went back to redwing blackbird-ing.
Jeremiah Smith built the first house on the as-yet-to-be-named Fire Island in 1795. For fun, Jeremiah lured boats to the shore and killed their crews. Deer opinion of humans dropped dramatically.
In 1826, the first lighthouse was built on F. I. it could only be seen from about 10 miles out to sea. A few of the deer began collecting miniature lighthouses.
Fun Fact: For many immigrants, the Fire Island lighthouse (not Miss Liberty) was their first sight in the New World.
By 1858, people had figured out that the lighthouse needed to be more visible, so they build the current one (which can be seen a respectable 22 miles out to sea). The deer were suitably impressed and added to their miniature figurine collections.
Somewhere along the way, people figured out that it was fun to go to the beach and Fire Island started to be built up. But only a little. 80% of Fire Island remains public park land and therefore undeveloped. The deer appreciate this and allow the crazy humans to enjoy the other 20%. At least most of the time.
You can drive to the tip of Fire Island and then walk about a mile to the lighthouse. If you want to go elsewhere on the 32 miles of island, grab a bike, walking shoes, or a cooperative deer, because only emergency vehicles are allowed (and even then it better be a dang good emergency).
If you go to Fire Island, leave the deer alone. If one comes up to you, don’t feed it. But be sure to inquire about its lighthouse collection.