Fort Wadsworth, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, Staten Island, New York.

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The view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from just inside Fort Tompkins.

Fort Wadsworth, a military base that was active for 200 hundred years (1783 – 1994) is now part of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area. Its 226 acres include the old remains of the Forts themselves as well as park areas, beach, wooded areas, wildlife, and modern housing. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which spans the Narrows, extends over the Fort and seems almost within touching distance.

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The roadway outside Fort Tompkins gives the view of the bridge as well as the stone exterior of the Fort.

Fort Wadsworth was first fortified by the British in 1779 and was its first line of defense until the end of the Revolutionary war in 1783.  The U.S. military has made active use of the Fort throughout history, its primary function was  to guard The Narrows against ships slipping into New York Harbor from the Atlantic Ocean. After World War I, the Fort became an infantry post. During World War II, Coast Artillery soldiers manned seacoast defenses.  It was decommissioned in 1994, and since then the United States Coast Guard has utilized its more modern buildings on site as housing.

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Inside Fort Tompkins, we can see the slitted windows where soldiers on guard poked out their guns.

 

The original Fort still stands, although Battery Weed and Fort Tompkins are the only buildings where interior tours of the concrete and stone artillery batteries can be arranged.  The old slitted gunnery windows overlooking the Narrows, and the labyrinth of tunnels, artillery, and powder rooms give a bleak, somber perspective of the lives of soldiers guarding New York Harbor.

 

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Battery Weed, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, sits just below the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on Staten Island, New York.

 

 

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