Friday, November 21, 2008

Sands Point Preserve

" The old order changeth, yielding place to new." I have always thought it is a strange legacy to be best remembered for a extravagant house. A lifetime described through chandeliers and marble statues for busloads of later generations to gawk at. An imprint of the individual that is measured in square footage and acreage. An existence remembered more for the lifestyle than for the life.
I have often wondered what the thought process was behind these grand estates on the north shore of Long Island. Was a personal statement attempted, other than to declare that they were extremely wealthy? Did a castle represent the royalty of Europe, or did the fortress appearance provide a sense of security and isolation? Maybe they were just following the wealthy fashions of the day. A Guilded Age version of keeping up with the Carnegies. Twenty five miles from Manhattan, Sands Point in 1900 was far removed from the bustle of city life. With its 216 acres of horse trails, fields, and shoreline, this was a country estate. The mining and smelting operations that provided the wealth were in another world. One could walk the grounds and never think about things like slag and mine pits. The blast furnaces that burned all night were never seen from here. The only sign of industry might be a passing steam tug towing freight, bound for the docks of Red Hook. Time rolled on, fortunes rose and fell. Wealth splintered eastward to the South Fork, and westward to Santa Barbara. Suburbia came to Sands Point. Markets soared and markets crashed. Industries went global. Gated communities and Hummers brought the fortress mentality back to style. McMansions tried to reinvent the castle. Before leaving, I took a walk along the beach. The weather was cold, and not surprisingly, there was no one else around. I learned from a phone call that the stock market was down almost 500 points. I kept walking. I walked below the high water line and came across some footprints that told me, I was not the only soul foolish enough to be walking here on this blustery day. Someone had been here earlier. We all leave our footprint in the sand! Sands Point Preserve Web Album


Mark Kreider said...

Such good thoughts... I feel the same.

The truth about Medicine said...

I really like this story.