While Breezy Point is private—it was once described as “a Park Avenue apartment building peeled open and dropped on the beach”—it isn’t wealthy. The median income is under $60,000. A firefighter described the neighborhood in 2003: “It’s just a bunch of cops and firemen trying to mind their own business.” Houses are sold through networks of friends and neighbors. Fifty percent down payments are required.
Once there, the protectivism goes from reprehensible to apprehensible: Breezy Point is gorgeous, a sun-soaked Eden. Make it off the main road, and you stumble into a labyrinthine grid of “streets” that are more like pedestrian paths—all sidewalks, just wide enough for amblers; outside of its main drag, the Point is free of cars. (Trash is left in sandy back alleys, where garbage trucks with sand-bearing tires pick it up.) These “walks”—which are organized alphabetically—are dotted with bungalows densely but not uncomfortably built; it is illegal to build new houses, but many redid their homes in the 90s to rival houses in neighborhoods like Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, as well as parts of Staten Island. Others are charmingly shanty.
Walk a few blocks north from the main road and you hit Breezy’s bay side; from here you can see Coney Island, as well as Brighton and Manhattan beaches. (And they can see you!) But walk south and you hit the Atlantic Ocean. In large part, Breezy Point works so hard to keep out strangers because they have a private beach—possibly the nicest in New York City, litter-free and, by Coney Island standards, nearly people-free.
Breezy Point feels like that imaginary, idealized America that family-values Republicans are always touting: a wholesome, church-going community without crime, full of two-parent, heterosexual households bearing innocent, tow-headed children. A bunch of Irish hiding behind fences at the end of New York City come together every summer to make that right-wing fantasy a reality. An American flag hangs from nearly every house.