Billy Joel - Cold Spring Harbor (1971) - Album Cover Location - Cold Spring Harbor, New York.
Here's the album cover. It is a picture of Billy standing in front of a long white dock named Eagle Dock which entended out from a private road to his right, about 100 feet into Cold Spring Harbor.
(album courtesy Sony Music Entertainment; originally released in 1971 by Family Productions; re-released in 1983 on Columbia Records; cover photo by Jerry Abramowitz)
Billy, who lived nearby, used to use this dock to get to the rowboat that would take him to his larger boat moored in the harbor.
The dock, which was later destroyed by a hurricane in the 1980's, was located on Shore Road in the "hamlet" of Cold Spring Harbor, New York, which is on the northern side of Long Island.
This is a Photoshopped composite of what I think the dock looked like, based on other local docks. I have been unable to track down a photo of the original dock. The foreground would have been a little less rocky.
And here's the album superimposd over the site
The view of the land in the horizon behind Billy comes from this picture (below), taken from Google Street Views, about 1/10 a mile south of where the dock would have been.
In this photo we are looking west over Cold Spring Harbor at Laurel Hollow, a town just east of Oyster Bay that was referenced in Billy's song "Billy the Kid";
"From a town known as Oyster Bay, Long Island,
Here's a map showing the site of the cover shot and the angle at which it was taken.
How I found the album cover photo shoot location.
Of course the biggest clue as to where the photo was taken was the title: Cold Spring Harbor which I knew was somewhere out on Long Island.
The second thing was that I had no idea of what that structure was behind Billy.
Once I later saw it, I understood, but from most of the pictures I saw it just looked like a bunch of white lines pointing off into the distance over some dark boxes, a result of the texturizing of the black and white image.
So I called up the Whaling Museum in Cold Spring Harbor (below) and I asked them if anybody knew where the Billy Joel picture was taken and what was the odd structure he was standing in front of. Here's the museum:
They told me the photo was taken next to a dock off of a private beach in town called Eagle Rock Beach, but that the dock didn't exist anymore.
They also suggested I contact the historian for the Town of Huntington (which includes Cold Spring Harbor) who might know where I could get a photograph of it.
So I looked up Eagle Dock on Google Images and found this old photo from 1910.
That didn't exactly look like Billy's dock. So I called the town historian, Robert Hughes, who was extremely helpful.
Robert happened to be on the Board of the Eagle Dock Beach Association, and helped me visualize how the strange black-and-white shapes behind Billy were actually a dock extending into water. He was also able to set me straight as to the exact position of the former dock..
But first let me backtrack to show you where this all takes place.
Here's a map of the New York City area showing the location of Cold Spring Harbor. It's about 30 miles east of Manhattan. Billy grew up in Hicksville, about 11 miles south of Cold Spring Harbor.
Now, zooming in closer to he map, I'll point an arrow to where the cover shot was.
Now, here's the map we saw earlier, from an aerial photo by Bing Maps.
Now, Robert Hughes, the own town historical told me that that Eagle Dock has been on the same spit of land as the Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club which had a pool and a large central clubhouse. .
So I typed in "cold spring harbor beach club" and came up with this picture on a site called Marinas.com. The club and pool are near the center. (If you want to buy beautiful pictures of over 25,000 local marinas, check out that site.)
With another call to Robert, I now found that the three large water tanks in the back had been removed, but that the Eagle Dock used to be in the water to the right of them, just above the long white dock you see in the picture that is to the right of the tanks. (I'll show you where in the next few pictures.)
Here's the overhead shot I got from Google. Robert Hughes had told me the dock in the Billy Joel picture had been at the end of a road through a parking lot just south of the club. He also said you could still see some of the pilings in the water.
So I found the road in this picture...
Then zoomed in closer until I could see the old wooden pilings from which the dock started....
Then zoomed in closer from another direction. Later, I added the outline of the dock in white and put in where Billy would have been standing.
So, for fun, I found later the exact spot where the dock went into the water using Google Earth, then "bent" the camera so I got Billy' view. Then I added the album...
...and it came out looking pretty much like the composite I made earlier in the entry.
Here's the track listing.
According to Wikipedia, there was an error in the mastering process which caused the album's speed to increase by a half a step, causing Billy's vocal to sound higher than usual. That 1971 pressing is now a collector's item.
Here's a picture of then 22-year old Billy Joel from the back of that album, maybe thinking about sailing later that day at Cold Spring Harbor.