Breezy Point and Ft. Tilden revisited part 2

Not much has changed on the Ft. Tilden grounds since my last visit, nor for that matter since it was decommissioned in 1974, but what has changed radically is the scene on the beach.

The unregulated beach used to be a sanctuary for folks who didn't care about the lack of amenities in exchange for a spot where you could fish, let your dog off the leash and, if so inclined, sunbathe au natural.
The dunes were the only areas that was restricted in order to protect the nests of the endangered piping plover.
Apparently the dunes are no longer protected, the shore birds were no match against the invasion of the new, non-native species.

The warning signs to stay off the dunes are gone along with the birds and their nests

The new species like to build nests too, not to protect their delicate hatchlings, but maybe to protect their delicate skin.

Surf fishers aren't endangered.....yet.

Ft. Tilden Grounds:

Battery Harris West; the gun batteries were camouflaged to avoid detection

Battery Harris East; NPS added an observation deck on top to enjoy the views

Atlantic Ocean to the south

Marine Parkway Bridge and Manhattan skyline to the north

Although many of the buildings have been left to decay, the community gardens, Rockaway Theater company and Rockaway Artist Alliance are injecting new life into the old fort

Ft.Tilden railroad munitions station

newly painted -- or fresh canvas-- barracks

RAA sculptures

Outdoor theater

RAA studio & exhibit space

Some of the history:
The fort began as a coastal defense station during the War of 1812, expanded into a full military base at the beginning of WWI, fortified for WWII and used as a Nike missile site during the Cold War.

aerial view from 1916

site of the first Transatlantic flight in 1919 (Lindbergh would beat this eight years later by making the first non-stop flight)

the big guns & battery

the Nike missiles from 1959

text and color photos copyright nycedges 2011


  1. great pix as always, edgy. just stopped by to say that i hope you had a spectacular 4th of july!

  2. N-- ooops, didn't see your comment....a belated happy 4th to you too!

  3. happy 4th and bastille day! I was recently recalling some hiking trips up in the palisades, on the west side of the river and some of the ruined houses that were still embedded in the cliffs...a great place to find native orchids (there are perhaps 8 easy to find native species in the early summer) and I always found a bounty of edible mushrooms, boletes, girolles and other delicious species when they were in season. trust me, I never poisoned anyone....

  4. Great Website ... Hadn't been to Fort Tilden in a couple of years. This brought it all back. (Thank heavens.) Used to love going there in late afternoon with my daughter or husband and our dog.
    Today - 9/1/12 - I drove out there with daughter and dog and was turned away at the gate by an NPS worker who told us there is no public parking there. She suggested we park in the lot at Riis Park and walk from there to Ft. Tilden....
    We did, and then headed down the beach. Perhaps there was a better way. We never did make it to Fort Tilden, and when we got home I read many discouraging reviews of what I used to think of as my family's "secret" beach. Apoparently it has been discovered by hipsters and others. Our secret is out.
    But the big questuon is this - how does one get to the beach at Fort Tilden these days? We used to drive in and then head down to the very end of the old parking lot, park along the fence (possibly forbidden) and walk down a lane full of beach roses and other lovely foliage until we got to the water. It was always virtually empty at that time of day, sometimes eerily so. Dog ran free, we looked at sunsets. Surf was sweet.
    Can this (driving onto the grounds and finding a parking spot) still be done? Hush...don't broadcast it.

  5. My Dad was a WW2 guy and told me that the hills were built for ammunition is that true . Or just a native daughter?

  6. I enjoyed your pictures. In 1959 I was a resident of neighboring Rockaway Point and a lifeguard at Ft. Tilden. Although they were simpler times but I do remember seeing the tips Nike missiles peeking out of the dunes. The swimming area was adjacent to Bay 1 at Riis Park and we were not allowed to walk west to the beach section that housed the missiles. THINGS CHANGE