Welcome to Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees
Return To City Homepage Menu is below
  • InfoNewHaven
  • Return Home
  • Parks Logo

    Report An Issue

    Search Our Site
    transparent image for spacing

    Parks, Recreation and Trees
     Lighthouse Point Park

    General Information
    Park Hours
    • Gates open from 7 a.m. to sunset year round
    • Season from April 1 to November 1
    Beach Swimming
    • Lifeguards are on duty during summer season, times as posted.
    Parking Pass Fees - Summer Season
    • New Haven registered vehicles - No charge
    • Non-resident vehicles - $25/day, $100/season
    • Out-of-state - $30/day, no seasonal
    • Charter busses (weekdays only) - $100
    Lighthouse Pavilion Rentals
    • Resident - $75
    • Non-Resident - $150
    Boat Launch Pass Fees
    • Resident Vessel - $30 Season Pass
    • Non-Resident Vessel - $130 Season Pass
    Open Space Permit
    • Resident - $40
    • Non-Resident - $75
    Exclusive Area Use (Photos)
    • Resident - $50
    • Non-Resident - $100
    • Rest rooms and the bath house are accessible.
    • A beach wheelchair is Available on a first come first served basis.
    Telephone Numbers
    Lighthouse Park Permits
    Park Administration
    Outdoor Adventure Coordinator
    Beach Volley Ball League

    Back to top

    Introduction to Lighthouse Point Park

    For a brief  73 years light beams from the lighthouse at Lighthouse Point extended welcoming, comforting arms to ships and sailors returning from voyages from the four corners of the world.

    Today the beacon from the New Haven Light House at Lighthouse Point is dark, but the tower remains, greeting ships from around the world to New Haven.

    The New Haven Lighthouse at Lighthouse Point in New Haven is located at the Eastern point of New Haven Harbor. Old Maps show it as Five Mile Point called that because that is the distance between it and the center of New Haven. It was also called Morris Point during the Colonial period.

    New Haven Lighthouse

    - Back to Top -

    The Original Lighthouse

    The original lighthouse was a shingled, wooden structure, octagonal in shape. Constructed by A. Woodward, it showed a fixed white light generated by eight lamps and thirteen-inch reflectors, arranged on a circular table.

    The tower was approximately 18 feet at its base and 30 feet tall. An iron lantern surrounded the top of the tower. It is believed that the first lantern burned whale oil. Opinion varies on how far its beacon could be seen, some said only 5 maritime miles, others said it could be seen for 12 miles. All agreed that for the seamen relying on a strong beacon to keep them off the rocky shore, the New Haven lighthouse, with is weak light and low elevation, was no protection from disaster. At least one ship ran onto the rocks, reportedly just one mile from the lighthouse, and was pounded to pieces.

    - Back to Top -

    The Present Lighthouse

    Because it was located too far north on the shore to be seen by ships coming from the east it was decided that a new lighthouse was needed. Congress appropriated $10,000 for a new facility and the new lighthouse opened in 1847.

    Also octagonal in shape, (a Connecticut lighthouse trademark) the exterior was constructed by Marcus Bassett. Made of sandstone from East Haven, furnished by Jabez Potter, the sandstone was hauled over difficult terrain by horse-drawn drays. The interior was lined with New Haven brick. The circular staircase, with its 74 steps guiding the way to the lantern, are made of granite from local quarries. The last eight feet to the top are reached from a landing via a 8 foot metal ladder through a hatch. Painted white, the tower is 97 feet above sea level. During the 1860's, the station's fog signal was a bell operated caloric engine; in 1871, its mechanism was replaced by a Steven's striking apparatus which sounded every 15 seconds. The first light was achieved with 12 lamps and 20 one-inch reflectors. In 1855 the light was upgraded to a fourth-order Fresnel lens.

    The light keeper's house was originally attached to the lighthouse by a wooden passage way, which has long since disappeared. The two story brick structure is still intact, and, most unusual, the out-building, used for storage of supplies and oil, has survived.

    The Present Lighthouse
    The Present Lighthouse

    - Back to Top -

    Lighthouse Point Park: Pride in the Past and Present

    In 1924 the City of New Haven purchased Lighthouse Point Park from the East Shore Amusement Company. City residents came to the park to enjoy swimming, ferry boat rides to Savin Rock, track meets, football games, field days and baseball leagues in the old grandstand/ballpark. The park, in the roaring 20’s, attracted legends Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb to Sunday afternoon games.

    The hurricane of 1938 ripped through the park, destroying many buildings and trees. In 1950 the City was able to make major improvements at the park including a new bathhouse, a first aid station and concession stands. A small amusement park was added and the beach was greatly improved.

    Today, the park attracts thousands to the public beach to enjoy the beauty of Long Island Sound. Devoted anglers take advantage of the fishing pier and a public boat launch that is available for leisure craft. Picnic tables dot the grounds, shaded by trees and pavilions. Kids can enjoy the playground and swings.

    The park is one of the most popular spots for bird watching along the East Coast. Each fall and spring, thousands of song birds and birds of prey are seen in the migratory oasis along Morris Creek. In the fall, our park rangers and various ornithological groups conduct research and provide bird migration programs for park visitors.

    The Lighthouse Yesterday and Today
    The lighthouse circa 1960 The lighthouse 2009

    Back to top

    New Haven's Lighthouse

    The New Haven Harbor lighthouse is also known as the Five Mile Point Light, because it sits on a point of land five miles from the New Haven Green.

    The history of the lighthouse began in 1804 when Amos Morris sold one acre to the U.S. Government for $100. On this site, the first lighthouse and keeper’s house were built of wood. In 140 work began to construct the 70 foot lighthouse, with sandstone quarried from East Haven and a solid brick interior. Its spiral granite staircase leads up to the lantern loft where the lighthouse lens was mounted. It was the keeper's duty to make sure the light was burning on all nights. By day he was to clean the lens, polish all brass, and fill the lamp with fuel. This lighthouse guided many ships into the harbor until 1877 when the Southwest Ledge light was built nearby on a Long Island Sound breakwater.

    In 1990, the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Back to top

    Special Events

    Annual Migration Festival -
    In September, the Ranger staff host the Annual Migration Festival at Lighthouse Point Park in conjunction with Audubon Connecticut and several New Haven area birding, butterfly, and environmental organizations.

    The park is located on the Atlantic flyway, a major route for butterflies, hawks, and many other bird species in their annual migration south for the winter months. Events include bird watching walks, hawk displays, butterfly observations, and the annual hawk count, among others.

    Call the East Rock Ranger at 203-946-6086 for information on the Annual Migration Festival.

    Back to top

    Park Amenities

    The Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park — Although there were more than 10,000 such carousels in operation in the 1920's, The Lighthouse Park Carousel is one of less than 100 in use today. For a small fee, come take a ride on one of the 72 figures mounted in 20 ranks on a 60 foot platform. The carousel is also available for private functions. For rental information email: sbruno@newhavenct.gov . The Carousel will run on Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Also, will run on Memorial Day & Labor Day...12-4.

    Lighthouse Park Splashpad - Prepare to make your way slowly and safely through one of the Park's newest attractions. The series of fresh water fountains are designed to both delight and refresh all who come. The splashpad is located near the beach and adjacent to the bath house. Rules for its use are posted at the entrance.

    Penney Press - Bring quarters, help sustain the parks, and make your own lighthouse or carousel souvenir!

    Harbor and Pagoda Pavilions - Daily rentals are available on a reservation basis only. Click here to download a permit request form.

    Refreshments - The summer concession operates 7 days a week from 9:30am to 5:00pm

    Back to top

    From Hartford
    • I-91 into New Haven to I-95 North
    • I-95 North to exit 50, Woodward Avenue
    • At third stoplight, turn right on Townsend Avenue
    • Turn right on Lighthouse Road
    From New York
    • I-95 North to exit 50, Woodward Avenue
    • At third stoplight, turn right on Townsend Avenue
    • Turn right on Lighthouse Road
    From New London
    • I-95 South to exit 51
    • Turn left at stop light onto Townsend Avenue
    • Turn right on Lighthouse Road

    Watch for green Lighthouse Park signs directing you to the park along Townsend Avenue

    Connecticut Transit Provides Bus Service to Lighthouse VIA the G Line

    Back to top

    Carousel HorseThe Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park –
    A Wonderful Ride
    Carousel hours of operation -
    Summer Season
    • From Memorial Day through Labor Day
    • Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays from 12-4 pm,
      every 20 minutes.
    • Fee: 50 cents. (Entrance fees into the park also apply.)
    • Group reservations accepted
    • Private rentals available (email: sbruno@newhavenct.gov)
    • Parking is the same as for all of Lighthouse Park



    Glory Days

    The Lighthouse Point Park Carousel is a unique and magnificent treasure. Built in 1916, it is a rare and important example of American folk art. Although there were more than 10,000 such carousels in operation in the 1920s, the Lighthouse Park Carousel is one of less than 100 in use today.

    To read more about the history of the beatuiful antique Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park, to view photos of the carousel and surrounding park, and to download information about rentals for special events, go to the Parks Carousel page.




    - Back to Top -

    Click To Visit Department
    Winterfest at West Rock Nature Center
    Canoeing at East Rock Park
    Polar Plunge at Lighthouse Point Park
    Footer For City Site
    Residents | Visitors | Business | Online Services | Q&A | Guide to New Haven | Government | Forms Central | Calendars | Emergency Info
    Any comments/suggestions E-mail the Webmaster for the City of New Haven or contact the Mayor's Office, 165 Church Street, New Haven CT 06510, Telephone 203-946-8200.
    New Haven City Seal