Block Island is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, a fragment of glacial terminal moraine approximately ten miles off the coast of Rhode Island, of which it is part, and from which it is separated by Block Island Sound.
In 1524, it was sighted by Giovanni da Verrazano, and in 1614, it was charted by the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block, after whom it is named. At the time of the arrival of the Europeans, it was occupied by a branch of the Narragansett people who called the island "Manisses". English settlers from the mainland first arrived in 1661, when the island was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The island became part of the state of Rhode Island in 1672.
The only town on the island is New Shoreham. The island is a popular summer tourist destination and is known for its excellent bicycling. A historic lighthouse on the northern tip of the island was built in 1872. The northern area is an undeveloped natural area and resting stop for birds along the Atlantic flyway. The island is connected by a ferry year-round to Point Judith, and in summer to New London, Connecticut, Montauk, New York and to Providence, Rhode Island.
Additionally, each summer the island hosts Block Island Race Week (http://www.blockislandraceweek.org/), a highly competive, week long sailboat racing event where captains and crew compete in various classes, racing to and from the island, as well as around its perimeter. During this time the islands population can triple over the normal summer vacation crowd.
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