Klaus & Elizabeth Gemming

Block island summer

The Chatham Press

Riverside (Connecticut), 1972

bibliothèque insulaire
N.E. of America
Block island summer / photos by Klaus Gemming ; text by Elizabeth Gemming. - Riverside (Conn.) : The Chatham Press, 1972. - 119 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN 0-85699-040-X

DESCRIPTION : At sea between the Rhode Island mainland and the eastern tip of New York's Long Island lies a small « sandy place » of not quite eleven square miles. It was called « the Bermuda of the North » in the 1880's and was, at the time, an elegant and fashionable resort. Since then its face has changed, until today it is known best as a landmark for yachtsmen, a mecca for ornithologists, and a haven for the increasing numbers who seek a simple summer refuge from the hustle and bustle of urban east-coast life.

Block island no longer has golf courses, stylish shops, or fancy hotels, but instead is endowed with the rarer distinction of crowdless beaches, peaceful wild-flowered moors, and quiet privacy. Klaus and Elizabeth Gemming have exercised great art in capturing these unique qualities and have given us a beautifully clear view of the island today, plus a fascinating glimpse at its little-known past and its possibly perilous future.

Block Island Summer is an eloquent testament to what shoudl be preserved and what stands to be lost if preservation fails. Everyone, wether familiar with the island or not, will share concern for this small special place, will cherish its beauty and admire its rugged resistance to clutter, chrome, and crowds.

INCIPIT For centuries Block Island was known as Manisses, the « Isle of the Little God, » and was inhabited only by Indians. The little god was their sachem, who owed allegiance to the greater sachem of the Narragansetts on the mainland. The Indians must have observed ships passing their island from time to time and the first white man to describe it was Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian in the service of France, in the year 1524. He noted that it was « full of hills, covered with trees, well peopled, for we saw fires along the coast. » Evidently he did not go ashore. In 1614, the Dutch fur trader Adriaen Block came upon the island while exploring Long Island Sound. He landed and must have been pleased with what he saw, for on Dutch maps of the period it was labeled « Adriaen's Eylant. »
  • Charlotte and Aaron Elkins, « Nasty breaks », New York : Mysterious Press, 1997

mise-à-jour : 29 avril 2019
Block Island summer, Klaus and Elizabeth Gemming