Fort Hancock is located on the north end of Sandy Hook, a narrow Monmouth County peninsula that extends into New York Harbor. Constructed as an installation to defend the harbor from attack, it recently became part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.
Sandy Hook has played a role in defense as far back as the American Revolution when it served as a base for the Royal Navy in the American Colonies. It became a fort during the Civil War, and in 1888, it was converted to a coastal defense installation. The fort was used to test some of the newest long-range guns in the American arsenal. As additional fortifications and gun emplacements were constructed, facilities for fort personnel were needed, and its first 38 buildings were completed in 1899.
In World War I, the fort continued to be used for coastal defense and featured nine mounted disappearing guns, as well as some of the first searchlights to locate ships in the harbor at night. The last defense system at the fort was a Nike missile battery, phased out in 1974.
Fort Hancock is now part of the Gateway National Recreation Area and is open to visitors year round. A fee for entry is collected during the summer months.
Narrative adapted from Thomas Hoffman, Images of America: Fort Hancock; Arcadia; 2007.
Photo courtesy of: National Park Service