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.
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.
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.