Fort Tilden

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Fort Tilden (1917-1974) - A World War I Coastal Fort originally established 19 Feb 1917 as Camp Rockaway Beach, later named Fort Tilden after Samuel J. Tilden, governor of New York State and Presidential candidate in 1876. Decommissioned in 1974 and transferred to the National Park Service Gateway National Recreation Area (GNRA).

Fort Tilden Aerial View circa 1940
Fort Tilden Aerial View circa 1940

World War I

Part of the Harbor Defense of Southern New York.

Camp Rockaway Beach was established on 19 Feb 1917 by a cadre of 4 Army officers and 130 enlisted men on Rockaway Beach, but the site was not actually purchased from New York State until 1 May 1917. Construction on the post began that year under the supervision of U.S. Army Engineers and concentrated on the building of the coastal gun batteries themselves. The post itself was built out rapidly but in the temporary style of most WWI facilities, few permanent structures were included.

Three coastal batteries were started in 1917, two 6" pedestal mounted batteries and one 12" mortar battery located at NAS Rockaway. The mortar battery proved to be too close to structures at NAS Rockaway and would have caused damage whenever fired. The mortars were relocated to railway carriages in 1919 so they could be moved further out on the peninsula for firing. Four separate rail sidings were constructed at the west end of the post to accommodate the railroad mortar carriages. The four sidings were apparently removed when the railroad tracks were rerouted for the construction of Battery Harris (2) in 1921.

Fort Tilden World War I Batteries (edit list)
Battery
Click on Battery links below
No. Caliber Type Mount Service Years Battery Cost Notes
Battery Harris (2) 2 16" Long Range Barbette 1921-1923-1924-1948 $ 136,035 Casemated during WWII
Battery Unnamed 4 12" Mortar 1917-1919 $ ? At NAS Rockaway
Battery Kessler 2 6" Pedestal 1917-1923-1923-1947 $ ? Buried, guns from Battery Burk,
Fort Hamilton (1)
Battery Fergusson 2 6" Pedestal 1917-1917-1917-1942 $ ? Guns from Battery Kinney,
Fort Slocum (2)
Source: CDSG


Post World War I

Construction on Battery Harris (2) began in March 1921 using Army M1919MII, 16" guns. The original configuration for Battery Harris (2) was two open 360 degree gun emplacements with three separate magazines located along a rail line. These two emplacement were casemated in 1939 to provide better protection and to restrict the firing angles to seaward targets. The casemates and an additional magazine were completed and turned over for service in 1942.

In 1937 the WPA did extensive construction and remodeling of many of the temporary World War I buildings. In 1940 additional construction built out the post in preparation for World War II.

Fort Tilden Plan


World War II


Fort Tilden World War II Batteries (edit list)
Battery
Click on Battery links below
No. Caliber Type Mount Service Years Battery Cost Notes
Battery 220 2 6" Pedestal 1941-1943-1944-1946 $ 229,507 Not Armed
Battery AMTB 18 - Norton Point 4 3" Fixed Pedestal 1943-1943-1943-1946 $ ? Norton Point
Guns & carriages from
Fort Wadsworth, Battery Catlin
Battery AMTB 19 - Norton Point 2
2
90mm
90mm
Fixed Pedestal
Mobile
1943-1943-1943-1946 $ ? Norton Point
Battery AMTB 20 - Rockaway Point 2 3" Fixed Pedestal 1943-1943-1943-1946 $ 5,950 Rockaway Point
Guns & carriages from
Fort Wadsworth, Battery Catlin
Battery AMTB 21 - Rockaway Point 2
2
90mm
90mm
Fixed Pedestal
Mobile
1943-1943-1943-1946 $ 12,891 Rockaway Point
Source: CDSG


Post World War II

From 1954 until it closed in 1974 Fort Tilden housed a NIKE missile site (NY-49).

Current Status

Now a part of the Gateway National Recreation Area (GNRA) administered by the National Park Service. No period guns or carriages in place.

Location: Fort Tilden, Rockaway Peninsula, Queens, New York City

Maps & Images

Lat: 40.563889 Long: -73.891111

Sources:

Visited: No

Fort Tilden Picture Gallery

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