6. Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument Burial Vault
Standing 149 feet tall in front of a grand 100-step granite staircase, the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park is rarely opened for visitors. But the over 100-year old structure stands on top of the remains of thousands of American prisoners of the Revolutionary War.
The impressive monument is dedicated to the 11,500 men and women who died as prisoners of war during the American Revolution. After winning the Battle of Long Island and control of Fort Putnam, later rebuilt and renamed Fort Greene during the War of 1812 at the site of Fort Greene Park, the British detained thousands of American men and women on prison ships anchored in Wallabout Bay. On the ships, the prisoners experienced overcrowding, contaminated water, starvation and disease. The bodies of those who died were haphazardly buried along the shore.
In 1808 the remains of those prisoners were relocated to a more proper burial site inside a tomb on Jackson Street near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In 1873 the remains were relocated once again and brought to Fort Greene Park, known at the time as Washington Park. Encased in twenty-two boxes, only a portion of the remains were brought over to the park and interred in a 25×11 foot brick vault. Washington Park was a newly designated public space designed by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the same men who designed Central Park and Prospect Park.