This post courtesy of Explore Brooklyn, an all-inclusive guide to the businesses, neighborhoods, and attractions that make Brooklyn great.
Many know of Fort Hamilton as a neighborhood in South Brooklyn, but the actual fort is both a historic monument and an active military installation providing support for the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. The site has been used for military purposes as far back as 1776 and today, it’s the last active military post in New York City.
Fort Hamilton Community Club photo by Wikipedia.
The area where Fort Hamilton stands was first used for military purposes during the Revolutionary War, when a small American battery fired from here on British troops. With the War of 1812, it became apparent that the U.S. needed more coastal protection, and the cornerstone for Fort Hamilton was set in place in 1825. The fort is named after Alexander Hamilton, the Revolutionary War officer and first Secretary of the Treasury.
At the time, the fort had two goals: “The first was to support actions against enemy warships. Its second, and equally important role, was to defend itself and the other Narrows’ forts against land-based infantry attacks. If an enemy force could not neutralize the Narrows’ forts by sea, it could attempt siege operations or a direct assault from the interior.”
Shore at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, ca. 1872-1887, photo by Wikipedia
During World Wars I and II, Fort Hamilton provided coastal defense for New York City, and the fort’s location was used as a staging area for thousands of troops deploying overseas. In the 1960s, Fort Hamilton served as the home for the United States Army Chaplain and Chaplain Assistant School. Hundreds of Army and National Guard Chaplains and their assistants were trained here for active duty.
Fort Hamilton prior to World War II, photo by hamilton.army.mil
Fort Hamilton has served as a staging ground for various local relief efforts, including 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy.
Harbor Defense Museum photo by harbordefensemuseum.com
Many of the historic buildings of Fort Hamilton have been demolished, especially since the construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the 1960s. The original fort building now houses the Community Club, a private club whose dues-paying members must be past or present miltary of federal employees.
Fort Hamilton is also home to the Robert E. Lee House, where Lee resided while commander of the garrison, as well as Colonels’ Row, six historic townhouses that housed senior officers. The former caponier — a miniature fort guarding the main fort’s gate — is now the Harbor Defense Museum. The public can visit the museum, which showcases United States Army weapons, uniforms, small arms, cannons, and historic Fort Hamilton items.