Not a city and barely a village, with just 600 houses and a wooden boardwalk as its main transportation artery, The Pines is one of the more unique human settlements in America.

It is, perhaps, the main attraction on Fire Island, the slim land barrier separating Long Island from the Atlantic Ocean; known as America’s first gay and lesbian town — “Chelsea with sand” — The Pines is just 55 miles from mid-town Manhattan, yet a world away from the concrete, the hustle, and most of the expectations that come with city life.

Summer at The Pines expands the population from just a few hundred full-time residents to a few thousand sun-loving, sand-strolling, party-seeking guests.

PT Editor-in-Chief Gordon Price spent a few days there, and as usual, passes along some of the cultural, architectural and historical nuggets behind this very special place.

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