Fort Wadsworth

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Locations – Staten Island
Fort Wadsworth

Theme:
The Idea: One of the Oldest Military Sites in the U.S.
The Aspect: Ghosts, Immortals, and more!
The Face(s): Clayton M. Abernathy (Retired Army General, Civilian Liason to the Coast Guard, Director of Fort Wadsworth and Son of Athena)
Description:
Built along the high ground of the Narrows is Fort Wadsworth, a formidable structure that has guarded New York City for over 200 years. Fort Wadsworth harkens back to an era when New York Harbor was protected by seacoast fortifications.

An enemy entering the Narrows would be caught in the cross-fire between Fort Wadsworth and Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. During the War of 1812, Fort Wadsworth was crucial in protecting New York Harbor from the British. During the Civil War, Battery Weed protected the harbor and, along with Fort Tompkins, the granite fortification still stands today. When closed in 1994, Fort Wadsworth had been the longest active military site in the United States.

Today it is managed by the National Parks Service and is open to the public as part of the Gateway National Recreational Area. Visitors are welcome to explore the former military stronghold, and see New York Harbor from the perspective of the countless soldiers who helped to protect it. Informative tours led by park rangers are available year round and the Visitor Center features interactive exhibits.

The first use of the land for military purposes was as the site of a blockhouse in 1663. During the American Revolution it became known as Flagstaff Fort; captured by the British in 1776, it remained in British hands until the war’s end in 1783. It became the responsibility of New York State in 1806, and reverted to federal control during the War of 1812. Divided into several smaller units, including Fort Tompkins and Fort Richmond, its present name was adopted in 1864 to honor Brigadier General James Wadsworth, who had been killed in the Battle of the Wilderness during the Civil War.

In 1910, the fort fired a 21-gun salute to former President Theodore Roosevelt as his ship passed through the Narrows on his return from a nearly year-long trip to Africa and Europe. In 1913, ground was broken by President William Howard Taft for a proposed National American Indian Memorial that was to be built on the site of Fort Tompkins. The monument was to include a 165-foot-tall (50 m) statue of an American Indian on the bluff overlooking the Narrows, but difficulties in fundraising and the advent of World War I precluded fruition of the plan.

By 1924, Fort Wadsworth had become an infantry post, and from 1955 until 1974 it was the headquarters of the 52nd AAA Brigade. It then was the site of the United States Army Chaplain school before being turned over to the United States Navy in 1979[citation needed], which used it as the headquarters of its New York Naval Station. The property became part of Gateway National Recreation Area when the Navy left in 1995. Shortly after that, the United States Coast Guard became a tenant in some of the buildings and housing previously occupied by the Navy. As of 2007, they are occupied by the United States Coast Guard’s Sector New York and a Maritime Safety and Security Team.

Historic structures include Battery Weed, directly on the harbor, and Fort Tompkins on the bluff above. Both were built in the mid-19th Century and are open to the public on guided tours only. There are several smaller early 20th Century coastal artillery batteries and an overlook with panoramic views of the Upper Bay, Brooklyn and Manhattan. The National Park Service maintains a visitors’ center on site and offers ranger-led tours of the facilities Wednesdays through Sundays.

For several years, Fort Wadsworth functioned as the secret base of The Agency, which was hidden beneath the Motor Pool. This facility was vacated and is now closed off, after The Agency relocated into Manhattan. It is rumored that the move from Fort Wadsworth to Manhattan was done by necessity, due either to something that now runs loose beneath the Fort (assumingly contained within the former base somehow) or an experiment that went awry and is contained (hopefully).

Fort Wadsworth

Shadows Over New York Keryth987