Now that summer is finally here, our thoughts turn to pleasant days spent outdoors. A popular beach destination for Westchester residents is Glen Island in New Rochelle. A favorite activity for many of us is dining al-fresco by the water. There are countless waterside dining establishments in the area. Perhaps the most famous of all is the age- old Glen Island Casino.
In 1879, Congressman John H. Starin bought Glen Island and four surrounding islands. Starin turned his sixty-five- acre island into a flamboyant resort and amusement park. The park, which contained a museum, bridle paths, bathing facilities, restaurants and a castle was considered a “world-famous resort.” During the summer months Starin’s fleet of excursion boats would bring thousands of New Yorkers to the island. Sadly, this era ended abruptly when one of his boats caught fire and caused a great tragedy. Starin closed the park under pressure and it fell into a state of neglect for years.
Finally, in 1923, Westchester County acquired the property and connected all the islands with landfill and created a park. Many buildings were razed and the restaurant remodeled to a hall and casino. In 1929, a bridge was built connecting the island to the mainland.
The Glen Island Casino booked an up and coming group in 1931, called Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra and started drawing huge crowds. It was the beginning of the Big Band era, and Glen Island Casino was in Its heyday. Glen Miller and the Dorsey Brothers along with dozens of performers filled the nightclub with sounds of swing. Crowds of 1,400 a night came to dine and dance at the popular club at the water’s edge, on Long Island Sound during the 1930’s and early 1940’s. World War II put an end to the era of dinner and dancing to the big bands.
After the war years the casino continued to host the Big Bands and offer a high- class restaurant. Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s it operated as a catering hall. By the 1970’s it became a nightclub that hosted local rock bands.
Today, it is open as the Glen Island Harbour Club the ultimate “on the water” location in Westchester, New York. The club has become a spectacular venue on a secluded island surrounded by lush grounds with a chapel and breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and New York bridges. World -class cuisine is served by the professional staff and accomplished Master Chef.Tags: seasonal events