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Governors Island in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Castle Williams

Changing with the Times

 
 
Castle Williams Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 10, 2011
1. Castle Williams Marker
Inscription.
[ Side 1 ]
A Place Worth Protecting
The same waterways that connected New York City to the world made it vulnerable to naval attack.

During the Revolutionary War, a British maritime force captured New York. In the early days of independence that followed the war, the federal government constructed a series of forts in the harbor. Their job was to safeguard the port against future attacks. Castle Williams, built from 1807 to 1811, was one of them.

New York was never attacked. But the stone fort would serve the nation in changing ways.

[ Side 2 ]
A Show of Force
When it was completed in 1811, Castle Williams was the most visible example of force in New York Harbor. Together with two other fortifications on Governors Island – Fort Jay and South Battery – it helped to defend New York City against naval attack.

Over time, as the forts played less of a role in protecting the harbor and the city, an army post evolved around them. By the 1870s, Governors Island became a major U.S. Army headquarters and by 1930, it was home to over 3,000 soldiers, officers, and their families.

Even Governors Island, once a smiling garden . . . was now covered with fortifications – so that this once-peaceful island resembled a fierce
Castle Williams Marker (Side 2) image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 10, 2011
2. Castle Williams Marker (Side 2)
little warrior in a big cocked hat, breathing gunpowder and defiance to the world
!”
- Author Washington Irving, Knickerbockerís History of New York, 1809

 
Erected by National Park Service.
 
Location. 40° 41.582′ N, 74° 1.141′ W. Marker is in Governors Island, New York, in New York County. Marker is at the intersection of Carder Road and Hay Road, on the left when traveling west on Carder Road. Click for map. Marker is located at the northwest corner of Governors Island. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10004, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Across the Harbor: Remembering September 11th (here, next to this marker); Group Effort (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Castle Williams (within shouting distance of this marker); Early North American Colonist Remains (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Castle Williams (within shouting distance of this marker); Andes Road (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Governors Island History in Brief (about 600 feet away); McKim, Meade & White, Architects of Governors Island (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Governors Island.
 
More about this marker.
Castle Williams Marker (Side 1) image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 10, 2011
3. Castle Williams Marker (Side 1)
The background of side 1 of the marker contains a map of Lower Manhattan and New York Harbor showing the locations of all the harbor fortifications. It includes a caption of “During the War of 1812, these were the major fortifications of the Upper Bay and their original names.” Below this is a map of the North Atlantic Ocean indicating the major trade routes between America, England and Africa. This has a caption of “The Rise of New York City – New York City had an ideal harbor: large, sheltered, deep, and protected from wind and ice. By the late 1700s, it was a thriving port for Atlantic and the West Indies trade. Fortified against foreign attack, the port expanded, New York City prospered. It became the nationís financial capital – and a place well worth protecting.” Four pictures appear at the bottom of the marker. The first has a caption of “Early colonists were drawn by the harborís geographic advantages and rich natural resources. The city began to expand.” The caption of the second picture is “In the late 1700s, ship captains met at the Tontine Coffee House (left, with flag) at Wall and Water Streets to buy, sell, and trade goods.” The third picture is an aerial map of the Harbor and has a caption of “By the mid-1800s, New York City was an important world port and financial center. The fortifications
Castle Williams Marker (Side 2) image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 10, 2011
4. Castle Williams Marker (Side 2)
and army post on Governors Island were well positioned to protect it.” The final picture is a modern photograph of the New York skyline and includes a caption of “New York City today: a world capital for business, finance, and the global exchange of ideas and information.”

Side 2 of the marker features four photographs. The top of the marker shows a large photo of Castle Williams with a caption of “Castle Williams between 1861 and 1865, photographed by Civil War-era photographer Mathew Brady. National Archives.” Three pictures appear along the bottom of the marker. The first is an interior photo of Castle Williams and has a caption of “Armed with dozens of cannon, Castle Williams was an intimidating sight.” Next to this is an aerial view of Fort Jay with a caption of “Until 1942, when they were removed for scrap for the war effort in World War II, Fort Jay had more than 50 Civil War-era 10- and 15-inch Rodman cannons protecting it and the harbor. In the 1930s, its barracks became housing for Army and Coast Guard families. Today, it is part of the National Monument.” The last photo is of the South Battery and has a caption of “South Battery protected the east side of the island along Buttermilk Channel. From the 1830s to the 1870s, it served as an army music school. When Governors Island became a major army headquarters,
Marker on Governors Island image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 10, 2011
5. Marker on Governors Island
the South Battery became an officersí club, as seen in this 1940s photo.”
 
Also see . . .
1. Detailed information about Castle Williams on Governors Island. National Park Service website. (Submitted on September 11, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

2. History of Governors Island. The Trust for Governors Island website. (Submitted on September 10, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

3. Governors Island. New York Harbor Parks website. (Submitted on September 10, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

4. Governors Island National Monument. National Park Service website. (Submitted on September 10, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
 
Categories. Forts, Castles
 
Entrance to Castle Williams image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 10, 2011
6. Entrance to Castle Williams
Fort Jay image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 10, 2011
7. Fort Jay
This is one of the two other fortifications on Governors Island mentioned on the marker that helped protect the Harbor against naval attack.
South Battery image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 10, 2011
8. South Battery
This is the third fortification on Governors Island that is mentioned on the marker.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 398 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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