17. Fort Totten

Fort Totten

Fort Totten’s history stretches all the way back to before the formation of the United States. Originally inhabited by Matinecock Indians, the area was eventually settled by colonizers who dubbed the area Willet’s Point, during the American Revolution.

In 1864, the area was renamed for General Joseph Totten and fortifications began to make it a Civil War stronghold that would protect New York against the southern military. However, with the South’s increasing military ability, the fort soon became obsolete and was transformed into a makeshift military hospital. After the war, the military used the fort for a variety of different purposes until eventually abandoning it in 1974.

In 1987, the fort and the ten acres surrounding it were gifted to the New York Parks Department. Much of the area is used as a public space, featuring pools, sports complexes, and baseball fields, however, the NYPD and FDNY use the fort for training centers and it remains the base of operations for the Bayside Historical Society. Despite all the modern activity many of the old Civil War buildings still remain abandoned places and can only be accessed on guided tours with a Park Ranger, which our Untapped New York Insiders have gotten to experience multiple times!