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Fort Totten's Officer's club, now home of the Bayside Historical Society
Abandoned fortification
Fort Totten is a former U.S. Army installation located near the communities of Bayside in Queens County, New Yorkmarker.While the U.S. Army Reserve continues to maintain a presence at the fort, the property is now owned by the City of New York.

History

Construction began on Fort Totten in 1862 after the land was purchased by the U.S. Government in 1857 from the Willets family. The fort sits on a peninsula formerly known as Willets Point, near Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst and Whitestone, located in the northeast corner of Queens County, New York. The original purpose was to protect the East Rivermarker approach to New York Harbor, along with Fort Schuylermarker, which faces it from Throgs Neckmarker on the opposite side of the river entrance. The fort was named in 1898 after Joseph Gilbert Totten.

In 1954, the fort became a Project Nike air defense site. Although no missiles were located at Fort Totten, it was the regional headquarters for the New York area; administrative offices and personnel housing was located at the fort. Fort Totten was also the headquarters for the 66th Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion, Battery D, whose missiles were located at nearby Fort Slocum on Hart Islandmarker. This use of Fort Totten was discontinued in 1974.

Much of the fort has become a public park and is open for tours by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. It is accessible by the Cross Island Parkway and Brooklyn-Queens Greenway. The Fort Totten Visitor's Center has been refurbished and houses a museum with exhibits about the history of Fort Totten.

Parts are used by the New York Police Department and the New York Fire Department as a training center.

During the winter months, a large variety of migratory waterfowl can be observed in the surrounding waters: Little Bay to the west, Long Island Soundmarker to the north, and Little Neck Baymarker to the east. Most buildings are dilapidated and unused. Fort Totten is also a sports complex, with an outdoor pool, baseball fields and three soccer fields used for youth soccer.

The Officer's Club of Fort Totten, known as "the Castle," is home to the Bayside Historical Society, which hosts events, historic exhibitions and cultural programs.

The Officer's Club can be clearly seen in the closing scene of an April 2009 episode of the TV series "Fringe," filmed at the Fort, in which the FBI delivers to an undisclosed location a child found to have been sealed for years in a building vault.

The Fort is a New York City Historic District and the Club a Designated Landmark. The building was apparently designed by Gen. Robert E. Lee in his pre-Civil War capacity as a military engineer, although some historians believe that the actual design was done by a subordinate and merely approved by Lee. The building was designed in the neo-Gothic style popular at the time and was not created specifically for Fort Totten but rather was a generic design approved by the Army for use at military installations. Identical structures were built at other Army forts and the Castle design was adopted by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers as their insignia, although the reason for this action is murky. A local tradition is that the Corp of Engineers symbol derived from the Fort Totten building, but the reverse is more likely: the building design was based on a Castle in part because this symbol had long been identified with Army engineers. When Fort Totten's Castle was restored in the 1990's, the Corp of Engineers was contacted in the hope that they would participate, particularly since the Fort Totten Castle was occupied at one time by the Corp of Engineers, but the military failed to show any interest.

References

  1. History Comes Alive At Fort Totten Park


External links




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