Fort Tilden

Category Exploration Date Status Province / State Country
Military July 10, 2013 Public New York United States

Posted on: Tue, 08/06/2013 - 15:15 By: Mike


Fort Tilden was named for Samuel J. Tilden, governor of New York and Presidential candidate. It was established in 1917 as part of the emergency fortification for World War I and was intended to defend New York from attack by sea or air.

The fort began as a coastal artillery installation consisting of two batteries, each with two 6-inch guns, and a platform for a 12-inch mortar battery was also built nearby.

After WWI, Tilden was crewed only by a caretaker staff. Despite that, construction and improvement of defenses continued. In 1919, two 3-inch anti-aircraft guns were completed. In 1924, Battery Harris's two 16-inch guns were added. Finally, in 1938, anti-aircraft battery #5 was completed.

When World War II began, the base was fully manned and approximately 90 additional buildings were added, Battery Harris was modernized and three .50 calibre anti-aircraft guns were added.

After the war, in 1946, 46 barracks were converted into 350 apartments for returning veterans and their families. This ended with Tilden's "reactivation" in 1951 as a result of the war in Korea and the ever-growing Cold War.

By the mid 1950's, Nike Ajax missiles were deployed here which were subsequently replaced in 1959 by the Nike Hercules.

Fort Tilden was decommissioned in 1974 and handed over to the National Park Service.

Personal Commentary: 

Another brutally hot day in New York as I began to wander the grounds of this fort turned park. Speaking with the staff, I found out that sections were closed, and the beach completely off-limits because cleanup after Hurricane Sandy had still not been completed.

The storage sheds were interesting, and offered brief shelter from the shade. A raccoon skull also caught my camera and made me wonder where, exactly, the rest of him was.

The best break from the heat, however, was inside Battary Harris (both casements). While the structure was quite empty, it did offer a glimpse into the construction of military washrooms gone by.

The Nike launch site was fenced separately and would have been interesting to check out. There were other buildings of interest as well, but with smurfs helicopters overhead, I decided that perhaps this could wait for the next visit.


My grandfather, Thomas E Davies of Milnesville PA was stationed at Fort Tilden during WWI. He met my grandmother Amelia Asmus of NYC presumably while on liberty. Don't know anything about their courtship but they eventually married and settled in Far Rockaway and had three children the youngest, Harry was my Dad. Grandfather died in 1942 and is buried in Lawrence in a churchyard on Rockaway Turnpike. After WWII my dad and the whole family(grandmother aunts,uncles and cousins) moved to Worcester Massachusetts.

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