Fort Wadsworth has been known by many names, having first been occupied by the Dutch, then the British, before finally being claimed as American soil in the War of Independence. This was far from its last conflict, however.
The Origins Of Fort Wadsworth
The first forts on this site were of European origin, the Dutch having built two blockhouses to overlook the strategically important bay in 1663.
During the American Revolution these were captured by the British and became known as Flagstaff Fort. The British expanded the defences until 1783, when the war ended and they passed into American hands.
US Fort Wadsworth I
In 1806, the NY State government started work on four more forts in the area. However, when 1812 arrived, bringing with it new war with the British, none of them had been completed.
The Federal government stepped in to rush them to completion. By 1815, two of the forts, Richmond and Tompkins, were finish, a reported 900 cannons amassed around.
The city was never attacked. Not one of them fired a shot. Much like Castle Clinton, the forts never saw action.
US Fort Wadsworth II
Twenty years later and the haste of the forts' construction was already showing. In 1835 they were declared unfit for use and, in 1847, they were torn down to make way for better, larger forts.
These new defences were colossal and form much of what makes up Fort Wadsworth today. Their size and strength would come in handy, Civil War lurking just around the corner.
Fort Wadsworth And The Civil War
During the war, the fort was garrissoned by 1,900 Unionist troops. Although New York was never attacked by the Confederate Army, the fort's role as a mobilization center was vital.
In 1865, when victory was declared, it was renamed in honour of Unionist Brigadier General James Wadsworth.
Over the years that followed it continued to see continual improvements, until, once again in 1916 it was poised ready for combat.
Forts Wadsworth In WW1
The fort's position, overlooking NYC's Upper Bay, made it a crucial part of America's defences. By then, New York was the richest state in the US, and Wall Street was the center of the financial world. Fort Wadsworth was in many ways the country's last line of defence.
Its batteries were stocked with guns from less important battlements and manned ready to fire around the clock. Of course, America was never invaded, but if it had been Fort Wadsworth was prepared.
Fort Wadsworth Today
Despite receiving a few upgrades in WW2 the fort has, since then, fallen largely out of use. It was continually manned up until 1994- making it the once longest continually occupied base in the US- but this has ceased since.
Nowadays it serves largely as a park and a host of historic tours. More than anything, it's the perfect place to go for a leftfield picnic overlooking the New York bay.
One More Thing...
The fort is also the starting point of the NYC marathon, and hosts a cycling festival, it being the finishing point of NYC's Five Boro Bike Tour.
Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our New York City Scavenger hunts - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of NYC.