Lighthouse Point Park is an 82-acre recreational area located near the city of New Haven, Connecticut, along the Long Island Sound. It’s home to nature trails, beaches, a boat launch, an antique carousel, and, most notably, the Five Mile Point Lighthouse, also known as the Old New Haven Harbor Lighthouse.
The location of this park is the site of a Revolutionary War battle that took place in July 1779. British troops anchored offshore in an attempt to invade New Haven, but their efforts were countered by a strong Patriot defense along the beachfront. The British advance was abandoned after heavy losses.
Five Mile Point refers to the lighthouse’s distance from downtown New Haven. The construction of the original tower was an order from the United States Congress in 1804 to mark the New Haven Harbor. Eight lamps set in 13-inch parabolic reflectors made the lighthouse visible for 13 miles and warned ships of a dangerous ledge to the southwest. However, due to increased demands by mariners, a new tower was designed by Marcus Bassett and built in 1847. At 65 feet tall, the white octagonal tower is lined with New Haven brick and houses a 74-step staircase that leads to the cast-iron lantern. This new tower had 12 lamps with larger reflectors and stood 97 feet above the waterline. It operated until it was replaced by the Southwest Ledge Light in 1877.
After a transfer to the United States Department of War in 1896, another transfer to Connecticut and the city of New Haven in 1922, and a purchase by the city in 1924, the land was opened to the public in 1949. The tower was renovated in 1986 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The original keeper's dwelling is now a private residence for New Haven Recreation Department personnel.
The Lighthouse Point Carousel, just 200 feet from the Lighthouse, was built in 1916 and features 70 figures and two chariots designed by Charles Carvel and Charles Looff. A model of George Washington directs the rotation with a baton beneath a roof of clerestory windows. Together, the carousel and building were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
From mid-November to New Year's Day, visitors can enjoy the Fantasy of Lights. Drive through the park and gaze out at the 100,000 bulbs that light up the sky over a winter wonderland! This is a local tradition, and all proceeds are donated to the programs of Easter Seals Goodwill Industries.