Visiting the Beach

Fairfield Beach Fairfield beach "campers" postcard Tarlton Family at the beach, 1914 Fairfield Beach Club

At the Fairfield Beach Club, c. 1900

Spending time at the beach became increasingly popular in the mid-1800s, and Fairfield’s shoreline was one of the attractions that drew visitors and new residents to the area. In the mid to late 1800s, Fairfield’s beach attracted a growing number of wealthy visitors escaping New York City by ferry and rail to enjoy the shoreline’s “Victorian Riviera.”

Local residents also enjoyed picnics and clamming expeditions, but very few people wanted to live on the shore. The danger of storms, the annoyance of mosquitoes, and the lack of roads connecting it to the town made the beach a less-than-desirable place to live. Instead, residents put up temporary bath-houses (pulled to the beach in horse-drawn wagons) for shelter and changing rooms, which they removed at the end of the season. 

The first permanent club on the beach, the Fairfield Beach Club, was created by some of Fairfield’s leading residents in 1886, providing a pavilion with bathhouses and use of a private section of beach for its members.