Gateway NRA: 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. The government deactivated the base in 1974.


The Fort Hancock Museum occupies the Guardhouse, built in 1899. This building served as the military jail for the base.


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


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


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Location: 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732
Designation: National Recreation Area
Date designated/established: October 27, 1972
Date of my visit: September 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. Tidal sand deposits continually extend the peninsula so the battery was closer to the water when it was built.