Sandy Hook is a unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, which includes Jamaica Bay and Staten Island -- altogether covering 26,000 acres. The area was long known as the "Gateway to America."
Location: Sandy Hook is a peninsula at the northeastern tip of Monmouth County, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Sandy Hook Bay to the west.
Size: 1,665 acres
Population: Year-round staffing at the park is 55.
In 1524, Giovanni da Verrazano, a Florentine sailing for France, happened upon the Sandy Hook area while searching for a shortcut to Asia. But although it aroused little notice in 1609, the more important voyage of discovery was by the Half Moon under Henry Hudson.
Construction of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in the United States, was completed in 1764. Twelve years later Colonists dismantled the lighthouse to increase the difficulty British navigators would face. The British eventually landed and rebuilt the lighthouse.
Sandy Hook had been the site for fortifications since the American Revolution, and in 1859, work began on Fort Hancock. By 1899, 34 buildings had been completed. Until 1919, the fort was used as an artillery range; it was the Army's first proving ground.
The Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory was dedicated in 1961. The lab, at the tip of the Hook, is housed in a former Army hospital built in 1899.
Sandy Hook State Park opened in 1962, and two years later the lighthouse was declared a National Historic Landmark.
The park's name became Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook in 1972.
Highlights, activities, events
There are seven miles of beaches, salt marshes, hiking trails, and a maritime forest. Aside from beaches, swimming, and hiking, Sandy Hook is the site of educational programs. The New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium, for example, conducts research and offers guided programs and teacher workshops on the marine environment throughout the year.
There is also a bird observatory and the Sea Gull's Nest restaurant.
Jersey Shore Now.com