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The Big Duck

The Big Duck is a famous attraction
located on eastern Long Island.

The building was built in Riverhead, NY, by Martin Maurer, a duck farmer. Long Island had a thriving duck industry in the 1930's. The structure, which was created to sell poultry and eggs, became a huge success for Martin Maurer. It has unusual architecture and attracted the attention of many motorists passing by.

Over the years the duck was moved several times.

Here is a short timeline:

  • It was originally built in 1931 and was situated on Main Street in Riverhead.
  • In 1937, the duck was moved to Flanders, NY, which was 4 miles away. Martin Maurer has built a new duck ranch in that area.
  • The building closed down in 1984. The duck had gained so much attention over the years has come to be a part of Long Island's heritage.
  • In 1988, Suffolk County bought the Big Duck. The duck was moved Rt 24 in the Sears Bellows Pond county Park, just off the Riverhead-Hampton Bays Road in Flanders, NY.

Now, 80 years later, you can find a gift shop and duck memorabilia inside it's belly. The hours of the gift shop is 10am to 5pm daily. It's a great opportunity for those visiting the east end of Long Island to stop at the Duck and take pictures.

The Big Duck Ranch is lit up during the holidays during the "The Annual Big Duck Lighting Ceremony", which includes a children's choir and free handouts like candy canes and hot chocolate. During Christmas the duck wears a necklace of bulbs and during Easter, it is surrounded by baby eggs.

This unique landmark is considered an example of literalism in advertising. It was originally built to look like the exact thing for sale - ducks. It became one of many architectural landscapes that got the attention of passing motorists.

What is it made of?

It is made of a wood frame, wire mesh, and concrete.

It is about 15 feet wide in the front, 20 feet tall to the top of the head, and 30' long from breast to tail. The eyes are made from Ford Model "T" tail lights.

The unusual architecture of the Big Duck led to criticism, however an architect named Robert Venturi stated that it was noteworthy and described the building in which "the architecture is subordinate to the overall symbolic form".

The landmark was added to the "National Register of Historic Places" on 4/28/1997. The National Register is part of a national program to support and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

Friends Of The Big Duck is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of Long Island's historical landmark.

The duck is sometimes used by teachers when giving lessons on historical landmarks in advertising. Some other landmarks the duck is compared to are the the Shell Service Station in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and the Benewah Milk Bottle in Spokane, Washington.

Shell Service Station
Milk Bottle


From the LIE:
Take LIE to exit 71.
Take Route 24 south through the Riverhead traffic circle.
Cross Route 105 and continue 1 mile on Route 24.
The Big Duck is on the Left.

From Sunrise Hwy:
Take exit 65 North (Riverhead).
Go 5 miles on Route 24.
The big duck is on the right.

The Duck is a perfect stop if you are taking a trip out to eastern Long Island to see the wineries.

You can read about the Long Island Ducks, our own minor league baseball team.

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