Fort Jay

Fort Jay
Fort Columbus
Part of Governors Island
New York County, New York, United States
Site information
OwnerPublic - National Park Service
Controlled byUnited States of America
Open to
the public
Fort Jay
NYC Landmark
Fort Jay is located in New York City
Fort Jay
Fort Jay is located in New York
Fort Jay
Fort Jay is located in the United States
Fort Jay
Coordinates40°41′28.89″N 74°0′57.63″W / 40°41′28.89″N 74°0′57.63″W / 74001268
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMarch 27, 1974[1]
Designated NYCLSeptember 19, 1967
Site history
Built1794, 1806, 1833
Built byU.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jonathan Williams
In use1794-1997
MaterialsSandstone, Granite, Brick

Fort Jay is a coastal star fort and the name of a former United States Army post on Governors Island in New York Harbor, within New York City. Fort Jay is the oldest existing defensive structure on the island, and was named for John Jay, a member of the Federalist Party, New York governor, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Secretary of State, and one of the founding fathers of the United States. It was built in 1794 to defend Upper New York Bay, but has served other purposes. From 1806 to 1904 it was named Fort Columbus, presumably for explorer Christopher Columbus. Today, the National Park Service administers Fort Jay and Castle Williams as the Governors Island National Monument.

American Revolution

Fort Jay is situated on Governors Island (which was known as Nutten Island from 1664 to 1784, based on Dutch Noten Eylandt for "Nut Island"). Specifically, the fort is located on the site of earthworks originally built to defend New York City during the American Revolution. General Israel Putnam constructed the first earthen fortification on this site starting in April 1776, and armed it with eight cannons for the defense of New York Harbor. Additional guns were later emplaced, and on July 12, 1776 the Nutten Island batteries engaged HMS Phoenix and HMS Rose. The American cannons inflicted enough damage to make the British commanders cautious of entering the East River, which later contributed to the success of General George Washington's August 29–30 retreat from Brooklyn into Manhattan after the defeat in the Battle of Brooklyn. The Americans abandoned the earthworks that September, resulting in the eventual British occupation of New York City. The British Army improved the existing earthworks and used the island as a British Royal Navy hospital until they departed on November 25, 1783. At that time Governors Island was conveyed to the State of New York.

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