The ominous stretch of stone arches and decaying electronic instruments inside of the defunct military structures of Fort Totten Park make the site look more like a movie set then a public park in Queens. The former federal military base is so striking that it was chosen by HBO as one of the six epic sites around the world where a hidden iron throne was placed in anticipation of the last season of the hit series Game of Thrones. This Father’s Day weekend, visitors will have the chance to explore the park in a whole new way and gain access to areas that are usually off-limits as part of Fortified, a weekend long event featuring a brand new art installation, theatrical experience and behind-the-scenes tours. If you are an Untapped Cities Insider, you can be the first to experience it all with private access to the park before it opens to the public on June 15th.
Fortified is a multifaceted event which will highlight the most interesting and lesser-known facts of the park while inspiring visitors to engage with its long and storied history. Fort Totten dates all the way back to the Civil War. Along with Fort Schuyler on the opposite side of the East River, Fort Totten was to defend the East River approach to New York Harbor. Towards the end of the war however, stone forts became obsolete and the structure was never completed. Instead of as a defense structure, the fort was used as a casualty support and hospital care facility. The nearly 100-acre base has been used for a variety of federal services over the past two centuries. Today, most of the site has been turned over to the National Parks Service, but part of it is still used by the U.S. Army and Coast Guard.
To call attention to the history and architecture of the park’s impressive stone Water Battery, there will be a public art installation created by New York City artist Aaron Asis. The installation will consist of a series of cords criss-crossing the Battery over-head, similar to a piece Asis created inside Fort Tilden. The cords will weave through existing structural passages to encourage visitors to observe and appreciate the structural nuances of the Water Battery, part of the fort which was abandoned before construction was completed. Another element of the piece is a series of small wall markings that will note specific details, variations, or anomalies within the battery structure.
Inside the Main Magazine
Along with Asis’ art installation, visitors will also be able to take part in a unique theatrical experience created by playwright and Untapped Cities Chief Experience officer Justin Rivers. Rivers’ Dark Passages will bring visitors into the completely dark vaults of the Main Magazine, a cavernous space once used to store ammunition. As visitors are led through various chambers within the Main Magazine, actors inside will reveal different theatrical stories about Fort Totten’s past.
The creative experiences of the weekend will be supplemented by tours led by urban park rangers. These behind-the-scenes, guided walks will take visitors inside the usually off-limits ruins of the Endicott Battery. Each tour will begin at the fenced entry and proceed towards the electrical room where visitors will get to take pictures and learn about the history of the structure.
You can gain access to the park and installations before they are revealed to the public on June 15th on a special private tour with Untapped Cities Insiders. Aaron Asis and Justin Rivers will be on hand to answer any questions about their work, and Insiders explore the Endicott battery on a members-only tour. Learn more and sign up for tickets here! Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain access to free behind-the-scenes tours and special events all year long!
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You can join the public tours of Fort Totten and view the installation throughout the weekend by registering here.
Next, check out 18 of NYC’s Former Military Forts