Robbins Reef Light

Robbins Reef Light
Location SW Upper New York Bay, 2.6 mi. SE of I-78 Interchange 14A, Bayonne, New Jersey
Coordinates 40°39′26.512″N 74°3′55.277″W / 40.65736444°N 74.06535472°W / 40.65736444; -74.06535472Coordinates: 40°39′26.512″N 74°3′55.277″W / 40.65736444°N 74.06535472°W / 40.65736444; -74.06535472
Year first constructed 1839
Year first lit 1883 (current structure)
Automated 1966
Deactivated N/A
Foundation Granite caisson
Construction Brick / Cast iron
Tower shape Conical
Markings / pattern Lower half: brown
upper half: white
lantern: black
Height 45 feet (14 m)
Focal height 56 feet (17 m)
Original lens 4th order Fresnel lens
Current lens 12 inches (300 mm)
Range 7 nautical miles (13 km; 8.1 mi)
Characteristic Flashing Green, 6s
Admiralty number J1156
ARLHS number USA-695
USCG number

1-34975 [1] [2] [3]

Robbins Reef Light Station
Architect U.S. Lighthouse Board
MPS Light Stations of the United States MPS
NRHP Reference # 06000631[4]
Added to NRHP July 19, 2006

The Robbins Reef Light Station is a sparkplug lighthouse located off Constable Hook in Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey, United States, along the west side of Main Channel, Upper New York Bay. The tower and integral keepers quarters were built in 1883. It replaced an octagonal granite tower built in 1839. The U.S. Coast Guard owned and operated the light station until the 2000s.


The light is located on a small ridge of sand named Robyn's Rift by the Dutch settlers of the area. The reef is now called Robbins Reef. It is situated near the entrance to the Kill van Kull, a strait connecting New York Bay to Newark Bay.[5] The channel is one of the most heavily used in the Port of New York and New Jersey, accessing Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal.


The name derives from the New Netherland era of the 17th century. In Dutch rob or robyn means seal, groups of which would sometimes lie on the reef at low tide.[6] The structure is also called Kate's Light for Kate Walker who "manned" the station alone after the death of her husband Captain John Walker in 1886, until 1919. She rowed her children to school on Staten Island. Herman Westgate was the last keeper of the lighthouse before it was finally automated. In 2009 Robbins Reef was put up for sale under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.[7] In 2011, the Noble Maritime Collection, a maritime museum on Staten Island, was granted stewardship of the light station by the U.S. General Services Administration.[8] The octagonal structure near Robbins Reef Lighthouse is not the base of the original 1839 tower but rather a sewer outfall that was constructed around 1915.

U.S. Coast Guard Photo
U.S. Coast Guard Photo from about 1950 with station boat 
Lighthouse from Staten Island Ferry
Lighthouse from Staten Island Ferry 
Lighthouse in 2006
In 2006 
View northwest to MOTBY and Port Jersey 

See also


  1. Light List, Volume I, Atlantic Coast, St. Croix River, Maine to Shrewsbury River, New Jersey (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2010. p. 303.
  2. "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: New York". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office. Note that although the light is clearly shown on the USGS topo in Hudson County, New Jersey, it is listed on this site as being in New York State.
  3. Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of the United States: New Jersey". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  4. National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  5. Robbins Reef Lighthouse at Lighthousefriends
  6. Roberts, Bruce and Jones, Ray, Lighthouses of New York, Globe Pequot Press, Guilford CT, 2008
  7. "NHLPA 2009 Program, Notices of Availability". Retrieved June 6, 2009.
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