The bunkers of Fort Tilden

Fort Tilden bunker

To the casual visitor, the decaying historic artifacts of Fort Tilden may seem like a throwback to a long-gone era of World Wars. However, thanks to the New York Adventure Club, we had access to some of the Fort’s hidden gems.

Established in 1917 as the U.S. entered WWI, Fort Tilden played a key role in defending New York Harbor from naval attacks. The site was home to six-inch gun installations (which were only uncovered after Superstorm Sandy) as well as sixteen-inch guns (which were encased by Battery Harris East and West to prevent enemies from turning the guns onto Manhattan).

Along Shore Road, there are also two World War II-era ammunition bunkers. Deliberately camouflaged by the scrubby terrain, the bunkers were designed to blend in with the shoreline, presumably unidentifiable by approaching enemy battleships. The eastern bunker, marked by a large American flag, is inaccessible due to the accumulation of sand and brush. The western bunker, located near the Fisherman’s Parking Lot, is open for public viewing.

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The walls of the bunker, like many of the older building in Fort Tilden, have become a canvas for graffiti artists. It is advisable to bring a flashlight to appreciate the graffiti, because the interior rooms are pitch dark, even in daytime.

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Park Ranger Lincoln Hallowell, who is considered the historian of the Jamaica Bay section of this national park, led the tour.

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