Time moves on. By 1967 the Fort Totten military installation was placed on inactive status, although it continued to provide housing for military personnel. It also serves as the headquarters of the Regional Support Command. Many buildings were taken over by ancillary organizations including the Coast Guard, US Department of Labor Job Corps Training, Army Reserve, NYC Fire Dept. NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and the Historic Trust of NYC Buildings. There’s over 100 buildings and structures that were built between 1830-1960.
In June 1999, the Fort Totten area, which includes over 100 buildings and structures built between 1830 – 1960’s was designated an official Historical District and given landmark status. While some of the buildings have sadly become derelict due to lack of funds for renovations, many have been repaired and much of Fort Totten now looks like a quaint upstate village rather than the home of a military operation.
A few years ago Fort Totten was opened year-round to the public, offering a number activities. In the summer, a large swimming pool was available and canoes could be rented on the Long Island Sound. Nature photographers like myself could avail themselves of Urban Park Rangers wildlife tours looking at the many migrating water birds and passerines. Tours also explored the fortress and the surrounding buildings. The Visitors Center provided maps and information for those wishing to explore on their own. While all of these services have been on hiatus due to the Covid-10 pandemic, hopefully they will return once the vaccinations reach the majority of the public. In the meantime the Fort is still an open park and I thoroughly have taken advatantage with almost daily hikes in all weather. Of course a camera was in hand so you can see what Fort Totten is now all about. Let’s start with the architecture.
At the top of my first post on Fort Totten I posted my picture of a most prominent building – here it is again:
The “Castle,” was built in 1887 and was originally used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the Officer’s Mess Hall and Club. It is a sample of Gothic-Revival style and is now a designated New York City Landmark. Now it houses the Bayside Historical Society but sadly it is not open now due to the pandemic. The historical society was founded in 1964 “to collect, preserve, and disseminate information concerning the history of Bayside and its adjacent communities; advocate for the preservation and protection of its most historic structures and distinctive neighborhoods. “ The society moved into the Castle in 1984.
I am looking forward to its reopening so I can immerse myself in its photos and other historical documents.
This next is another favorite structure of mine:
This stunning two-story with gabled roof example of Colonial Revival style was first built in 1905 by an architect of the Office of the Quartermaster General. Originally it was used as quarter for enlisted personnel, low ranking non-commissioned officers until the 1960’s. It is now is the site of the Center for the Women of New York, an organization which “ advocates for women’s rights & full equality for women. CWNY empowers women to reach their full potential by providing the skills, information, & support they need to address economic, emotional, & legal challenges.”
Next up is this beauty:
This is another Colonial revival style building that originally housed officers, built in. 1906 and modified in 1926 to create 4 units. Now it houses the Special Operations Command, part of the Department of Defense. This is the only unified combatant command of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.
I have a special fondness for Building 418, as the above was called, as there are always a number of the command who call out to Vee when we pass by and come down the stairs for a few minutes of play.
These building all have outstanding needs for renovations and repair, but the double hit of the pandemic and budget cuts have put the work on hold. However there are other buildings in Fort Totten which sadly never made the cut for even initial fixing up:
This is an aerial view of the battery from the internet:
Next week – my favorite subject – nature is alive and well in Fort Totten.