Jones Beach State Park, most renowned of all Long Island State Parks, derives its name from Major Thomas Jones who came to Long Island in 1692, built, near Massapequa, the first brick house on Long Island and eventually acquired a total of 6,000 acres. Apparently he thought he also owned a part of what is now Jones Beach because around the year of 1700 he established a whaling station on the outer beach near the site of the present park. Jones died in 1713.
Jones Beach State Park opened to the public on August 4, 1929. On that day Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, former Governor Alfred E. Smith, and at that time Commission President Robert Moses, were principal speakers.
Its success and popularity were immediately apparent. In 1930, the first full year of operation, a million and a half persons visited the park. In July,1931, the West Bathhouse with swimming and diving pools opened. The Wantagh Causeway soon became overcrowded and serious traffic delay occurred every Sunday. On November 3,1931, the Town of Hempstead voted to convey to the State all of Short Beach, the area between the Park and Jones inlet, together with a right of way for an additional causeway from the mainland, near Freeport, to the Park. In 1933 Commissioners served on the board of the Jones Beach State Park Authority that built, maintained and operated the causeways to Jones Beach, some park facilities that includes the Jones Beach Theater and the Southern State Parkway in Nassau County.
Swimming has always been the top attraction. Few places offer facilities for such fine surf bathing, stillwater bay bathing and swimming pools with diving and wading pools. Thousands are also attracted by the other facilities for healthful recreation. There are basket ball courts, deck tennis and shuffleboard courts, 18-hole pitch and putt golf course, miniature golf course, softball diamonds, picnic areas, miles of surf fishing areas, fishing docks and a boat basin, outdoor dancing and a two-mile long boardwalk. In addition, special sports programs, Children's Jubilee Festival, concerts arid other outdoor entertainment are presented. The park comprises 2,413 acres with 6.5 miles of ocean beach frontage and a half mile of bay frontage developed for stillwater bathing. There are two bathhouses,refreshment stands, a restaurant, playgrounds, barbecue and picnic areas, first-aid stations, ice cream parlors, beach shops and gift shops.
The original Jones Beach Marine Stadium was a temporary wooden structure constructed in the early 1930's as a work relief project that had to be razed in 1945 because it became unsafe. During its life span of about ten years, the wooden stadium earned a reputation for the finest in aquatic sports events and musical entertainment.
The new theater, constructed at the same point on Zachs Bay as it predecessor, retained the basic brick design of a stage separated from the spectators by water. Improvements included steel, concrete and brick structure seating 8,200 persons, a 104 foot wide stage with a 76-foot revolving center and an underwater tunnel leading from the shore to the stage, with underground elevators for the transportation of supplies and stage scenery.