Davis Park is the last outpost among the island’s communities. This, plus its distance from its sister town (Water Island, its nearest such neighbor, lies a mile and a half down a broad and unused beach), makes Davis Park something of an island unto itself and residents have been quick to make the most of their situation. The community has few amenities but is entirely self-supporting, commercially and socially. It was a mark of pride for most residents that their town resisted such trappings of civilization as electricity until the last few years; even today some households do without it and other attendant domestic conveniences. Young in comparison with other villages, Davis Park still embodies a sense of freedom and offers an escape to an extent not found elsewhere on Fire Island.
Despite its remoteness, “tranquil” is not a word one would associate with Davis Park. Perhaps, because of its isolation, the party circuit has become all important in the community’s social life.
Although a few tarpaper shacks were put up on the site as early as 20s, Davis Park is really a postwar phenomenon. Named for the Davis brothers of Patchogue who brought over the first houses and donated the Leja Beach strip to Brookhaven as a public beach, the community began to develop in 1948 after ferry service had begun to the public area. The town rapidly became a haven for singles, who to this day have given the place its particular style and ambience. During the 50’s and 60’s, Davis Park proper filled with modern homes and chic vacationers out to take advantage of Fire Island’s incomparable natural assets. Over the years a post office and food store were added; the Casino maintains a restaurant, bar and snack bar. Ocean Ridge began springing up about 1960 as the spillover from the western area indicated the need for more space. Houses here are equally as fascinating architecturally as in its older counterpart, but the impetus for settlement came from groupers and other singles who became interested in ownership and a more stable community. Davis Park-Ocean Ridge’s reputation as a singles’ paradise is overrated. The present ratio between groupers and families is about even, since many of the latter originally arrived in the guise of the former, the two sides mix easily.
The three sections of the community are quite distinguishable from one another. Davis Park proper has thicker growth and more trees and shrubbery (a wall of pines has been planted along its line with Leja Beach); Ocean Ridge, flatter and sandier, stretches along a central boardwalk all open to view. Leja Beach is the commercial district; the stores, Casino and small boatel all about its solitary bay-to-ocean walk. The marina has been enlarged over the years and can now accommodate 200 boats.
The Davis Park Association represents the interests of homeowners and residents and sponsors a variety of social and civic events, including an art show and Fourth of July costume parade. The Catholic Church serves both as spiritual and community center and the medical and fire associations draw support for their causes as well. Overall, there are over 550 homes in Davis Park-Ocean Ridge (housing as well a few refugees from Bayberry Dunes, an ultra-chic settlement east of Ocean Ridge which thrived for a few brief years before the National Seashore appropriated its land and houses in 1979), with a diverse mix of people out to enjoy as free and uninhibited an existence as possible