Fort Jay is a coastal bastion fort and the name of a former United States Army post on Governors Island in New York Harbor. 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.

Fort Columbus played an important role in the military life of New York City as the largest army post defending the city. The fortification, together with other forts, provided protection for the city and Upper New York Bay. This system of coastal fortifications is credited with discouraging the British from taking any naval action against the city during the War of 1812, who preferred easier targets in the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay (resulting in the burning of Washington, DC), and the Gulf of Mexico below New Orleans.

Today Fort Jay is open to the public on a summer seasonal basis as they undergo stabilization and the remainder of the island undergoes redevelopment by the City of New York through the Trust for Governors Island.



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Founded: 1794
Category: Castles and fortifications in United States

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David Simon (2 years ago)
Fort Jay, opened Saturdays and Sundays is an excellent example of an early fort (1794), and paired with Castle Williams and activities on Governor's Island makes for a great weekend outing.
Noah Langford (3 years ago)
Wonderful historical fort. Very scenic location.
Nachum Sarytchev (3 years ago)
Important part of history and fun for children !
Kurt Anderson (3 years ago)
I love touring around historic sites and this was a good one. Kind of cool to see something like this amidst the craziness of NYC. I came over on the free ferry from Brooklyn and walked around the island a little bit first before I made my way here. As I was leaving and heading back to the ferry it started to storm pretty badly. Kind of came out of nowhere. Thunder and lightning. Hail. The works. When I got to the ferry I was soaked. Absolutely drenched. The water in Buttermilk Channel was dangerously choppy. Waves maybe 6 ft with aggressive whitecaps that raged toward the sky and then back down again. We were just about to launch to get back to Brooklyn when they called it off, saying it was too dangerous to cross. I stared out the window as the boat tossed. Out of nowhere, we were suddenly come upon by a huge wave. Water came into the cabin and rushed over my feet before I had time to curl up into my seat. My head had been thrown into the window and I was a little disoriented. I looked out at the water to try and get my bearings and saw that we had been pushed out into the channel and we were spinning slowly in the water as though we were circling a drain. It was then that I saw that the water level in the cabin was rising and rising rapidly. I instinctively grabbed my bag and scrambled through the rushing deluge to get out onto the deck. Things had happened so fast and I could barely believe that I was thinking about dying when I was enjoying a historical tour 15 minutes before. Out on the deck there were a dozen other people holding fast to the railings. Some wailing. Some frozen in fear. The crew was rushing around the boat trying to exert some power of control over the storm. Then, in a heartbeat, we were sinking. The railing I was holding on to was completely submerged now. Then the water was up to my chest. I should have let go but I was in shock, frozen. I had the sense to take a deep breath as I felt the water reach my chin. And then I was under. I let go of the railing and tried to push off to the surface but the gravity of the sinking ship piled water and debris on top of me and kept me under. The boat was pulling me down with it. I had about ten more seconds before I knew I would start inhaling water. Ten. My new baby boy, kicking in his crib in the mornings, excited to see me. Nine. My wife. Her red hair in the sun. Eight. Running down the halls of my elementary school. Into the arms of my mother. Seven. A gravestone, the engraving blurred. Six. A bright light. Was it in my head? Five. A figure, a silhouette swimming gracefully toward me. Four. A warm hand on my shoulder. Three. Lips on my lips and fresh air in my lungs. Two. A powerful pull toward the surface. One. Breaching, breathing, gasping, wading. I looked around. No one. Whoever had saved me had not made it up. I had to help. I took a few breaths and then dove, eyes open. In the murky distance, lighted by the beams of the penetrating sun, I could just make out the figure. Swimming downward. And I know what I saw. A woman. Beautiful green locks of hair, graceful and capable shoulders and arms. Breasts. Hips. And where one would expect legs, scales and a long beautiful caudal fin that swayed with her downward movements. As she disappeared into the dark underworld of the East River, she looked back and smiled at me. Oh! Also, Governors Island is free. So totally worth the trip, FYI!
Bruce Dyer (4 years ago)
Remember the old saying "SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE *****". I have such fond memories living in bldg.111 from 1957-62. Fort Jay was the view from our living room window. As a kid of 10 - 15 years old it was the most wonderful place to play around. Football and golf in the moat in the summer and sledding on the surrounding golf course in the winter. Always enjoyed digging in the sand at the pistol range (in the moat) for bullets. Great times when it snowed - jumping off the bridge into the deep snow. Always loved hearing TAPS over the speaker system in the evening. What great times!
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