In the late 1870s, shipping magnate-turned US Congressman John H. Starin had a vision: to create, “the most popular picnic resort in the country.” The New York Times wrote of the planned park in May, 1879, under the headline, ‘A New Picnic Resort’ :
“Not only that, but to maintain it as the most orderly one and to banish from it all disturbing elements that are so frequently found at similar places.” To fulfill his dream of a wholesome, family friendly theme park, he came across a small island off New York’s shoreline.
Locust Island is located just north of where the East River empties into Long Island Sound. In 1879, Starin bought this island of just under 100 acres, along with four neighbouring smaller ones. Renaming his new acquisition “Starin’s Glen Island”, he set about designing something spectacular.