Fort Tilden

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This article is about the former military installation. For the 2014 film, see Fort Tilden (film).
Fort Tilden
Queens, New York
Type Army Reserves Post
Site information
Controlled by U.S. Army
Site history
In use 1917-1995
Garrison information
Garrison 5/5th Field Artillery, 187th Infantry Brigade
Fort Tilden Historic District
Ft Tilden casemate jeh.JPG
16" gun Casemate
Fort Tilden is located in New York City
Fort Tilden
Fort Tilden is located in New York
Fort Tilden
Fort Tilden is located in the US
Fort Tilden
Location Rockaway Beach Blvd., New York, New York
Coordinates 40°34′N 73°53′W / 40.567°N 73.883°W / 40.567; -73.883Coordinates: 40°34′N 73°53′W / 40.567°N 73.883°W / 40.567; -73.883
Built 1917
Architect U. S. Army
Architectural style No Style Listed
NRHP Reference # 84002917
Added to NRHP April 20, 1984[1]

Fort Tilden, also known as Fort Tilden Historic District, is a former United States Army installation on the coast in the New York City borough of Queens. Fort Tilden now forms part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, and is administered by the National Park Service.

Fort Tilden Historic District is located on the Rockaway Peninsula, between Jacob Riis Park to the east and Breezy Point Tip to the west. All three of these sites are operated by the National Park Service.[2]

Fort Tilden in 2014 has largely become a natural area of beach, dunes and maritime forest. Most of the old military installations are abandoned, and military structures which formerly housed artillery (batteries) and ammunition (magazines) are covered in graffiti. A few buildings have been renovated and are used by local arts groups, and some large open areas are used as sports grounds. Atop one of the old batteries, Battery Harris East, a viewing platform has 360-degree views, which include the city, New York Harbor, and the Atlantic Ocean. The wilder parts of Fort Tilden are popular with bird-watchers and other nature-lovers, and the beach areas are frequently used for fishing.[3]

A view of the beach at Fort Tilden

Threatened species[edit]

Fort Tilden is an important nesting area for the threatened Piping Plover, a species which NPS—as part of a large global effort—is working to protect.[4] The eggs and chicks are very small and highly camouflaged, so they are extremely difficult to see. It is very easy to step on the eggs and kill the unhatched chicks. "Under New York and Federal laws persons may be arrested and fined for killing, harassing, teasing, or in any way disturbing birds nesting in this area."[5] Keep out of areas delineated by string fences and signs.[6]

Common Terns[7] and Least Terns[8] also make their nests on the beach at Fort Tilden. These two species are threatened in New York State as well.

Do not: feed, come within 15 feet, disturb or harass wild animals. Take walks on the beach on the wet sand, and not the sand close to the vegetation. Do not enter bird nesting areas. Report violations to the U.S. Park Police: 718-338-3988.

Rules and regulations[edit]

Pets: No dogs allowed anywhere in the park from March 15 through September 15. Dogs are never allowed off-leash anywhere in Fort Tilden (especially the beach). Leashes must be 6 feet long or less. Unleashed dogs threaten wildlife and habitats that the park is legally bound to protect. (36 CFR 2.15 "Pets")[9]

Pets running at large may be impounded at the owner's expense.[10]

Stay on paths and do not walk on sand dunes, beach grass, or other vegetation. Sand dunes are easily damaged and destabilized when vegetation is trampled. The dune systems are closed to the public except at designated dune crossings (36 CFR 1.5 "Closures and Public Use Limits").[11]

All structures, buildings, houses, remnants, etc. are closed to the public unless specifically addressed as a public use facility. Do not enter any structures in the back woods or beach. Report violations to the U.S. Park Police: 718-338-3988.

Bathing, wading, and swimming in the ocean is not recommended at Fort Tilden (36 CFR 3.16 "Swimming and Wading"). Fort Tilden is not defined as a "swimming beach" in the 2015 Compendium. Fishermen with permits are allowed to surf fish from this beach during the day, so stay well clear of them and their fishing lines. Visitors are encouraged to use the designated swimming beach at Jacob Riis Park.[12]

Glass bottles/containers, alcohol, balloons (latex and mylar), fires, open flames, and barbecue grilling with charcoal, propane, or wood are prohibited (grilling is only in designated areas with a special use permit). The construction of wind screens, or sun shelters from driftwood is prohibited.

The park is closed from sunset to sunrise, except for those with fishing permits.[13]

Military history[edit]

Historic gun batteries and other military fortifications are closed to the public. Some of these historic structures are very hazardous.[6]

The fort first served as a coastal artillery installation and ended its service as a Nike Hercules and Nike Ajax missile site.

Following a number of temporary military installations on or near the location dating as far back as the War of 1812, the fort was established about the time of American involvement in World War I in 1917. It is named after Samuel J. Tilden, one-term Governor of New York State and Democratic Presidential candidate in 1876.

From the late 1960s until at least 1978, Fort Tilden was an Army Reserve Post, housing a signal corps unit, the 411th Engineers, and an Army Reserve self-propelled 8" Howitzer battalion, originally the 5/51st FA and renamed in the early 70's the 7/9th FA. From the late 1960s until the 1980s, Fort Tilden served as a United States Army Reserve post, with the 187th Infantry Brigade's 5/5th Field Artillery; a towed-105mm howitzer battalion stationed there until the 187th was deactivated in 1995. Fort Tilden was also the location of the 411th Engineer Brigade, which was headquartered there from 1968 to 1978.

Fort Tilden remained an Army installation until the late 1970s, when it was decommissioned and turned over to the National Park Service, and made part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. A number of structures are included in an historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the two concrete casemates for the 16"/50 caliber M1919 guns of Battery Harris.


  1. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ New York Harbor Map National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy. Accessed November 18, 2008
  3. ^ Kilgannon, Corey. To the Battlements, and Take Sunscreen: The Joys of Fort Tilden. July 21, 2006. New York Times. Accessed November 18, 2008.
  4. ^ "Why Piping Plovers Come to Gateway". 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ "Common Tern Fact Sheet". 
  8. ^ "Least Tern Fact Sheet". 
  9. ^ "Gateway Superintendent's Compendium" (PDF). 
  10. ^ "Pets". 
  11. ^ "Gateway Superintendent's Compendium" (PDF). 
  12. ^ "Gateway Superintendent's Compendium" (PDF). 
  13. ^ "Laws & Policies". 

External links[edit]