Gateway National Recreation Area: Fort Hancock


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Fort Hancock was built to defend the entrance to New York Harbor in the late 1800s.  It was active through both World Wars and the Cold War, converting to a missile base when the old gun batteries became obsolete. It was deactivated in 1974.


The Fort Hancock Museum is in the Guardhouse which was built in 1899. This building served as the military jail for the base.


Restoration of the building began in 2010 but then suffered serious damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.


In September 2018, the museum was re-opened to the public. It showcases artifacts from all periods of the peninsula’s long history.


My other posts on Sandy Hook:


Location: 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732

Designation: National Recreation Area

Date designation declared: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: 9/30/2018

The fort, together with the proving ground, became a National Historic Landmark District in 1982
A revolutionary war era musket ball, discovered during a recent archaeological dig conducted by Monmouth University
The fort was named for General Hancock who was a war hero at Gettysburg and the Democratic nominee for president in 1880. He lost the election by a narrow margin to James Garfield.
New York’s skyline as seen from the top of the lighthouse with one of the 1800s gun batteries in the foreground. The peninsula is continually being extended by tidal sand deposits so the battery was closer to the water when it was built.

4 thoughts on “Gateway National Recreation Area: Fort Hancock

    1. As far as I know, you cannot purchase any of the buildings, but the park service is offering long term leases on the condition that the lessees restore the property. There is already an academy in one of the old barracks with plans to expand into an adjacent barracks that collapsed recently. Several other properties were under contract when I visited in September.

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