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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Fort Clinton: On Top of Manhattan

 
 
Fort Clinton: On Top of Manhattan Marker image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 10, 2016
1. Fort Clinton: On Top of Manhattan Marker
Inscription.  With its high ground and expansive views to the north and east, it is clear why this spot was regarded as an important strategic position in two wars. In 1776, the British built a fortification here, following its invasion of Manhattan, as part of a defensive line extending west to the Hudson River. During the War of 1812, the American military rebuilt a fort in this location and named it Fort Clinton, in honor of Mayor DeWitt Clinton, then mayor of New York. In the 1860s, the designers of Central Park recognized the scenic and historic value of this location, and retained the remains of the fortification. They developed the site as a scenic overlook incorporating rustic fencing, benches, and a flagpole. The Central Park Conservancy rebuilt the overlook in 2014, recreating some of these historic details and restoring the surrounding landscape.

The recent project by the Conservancy also involved reinstalling two cannons that had been in storage since the 1970s. The cannons have a rather curious history: they were never actually fired from this location. Recent research has confirmed that they originated on the Hussar, a British Royal Navy

At Fort Clinton: The two cannon image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 10, 2016
2. At Fort Clinton: The two cannon
Also visible are the rustic fencing and benches referred to in the text.
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ship that ran aground on Hell Gate in the East River in 1780 while delivering supplies for the Revolutionary War. The cannons were donated to the park in 1865 and put in display in a museum in the former convent of Mount Saint Vincent, just south of this location. After the building was destroyed by fire in 1881, the cannons were unaccounted for until 1905, when Edward Hagaman Hall, a historian and preservationist, discovered them lying on the ground near Fort Clinton. Given the military history of the area, he assumed they were period artifacts and advocated to have them installed in this location. In 1906 the Parks Department installed the cannons at Fort Clinton on a granite base. In 2014 the Conservancy conserved the cannons and the base and returned them to this location.
 
Erected by Central Park Conservancy.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and CastlesWar of 1812War, US Revolutionary. A significant historical year for this entry is 1776.
 
Location. 40° 47.718′ N, 73° 57.128′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker can be reached from Fifth Avenue. Marker is in Central Park off East Drive. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10029, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Mount Saint Vincent (within shouting distance of this marker); A View From the Road
At Fort Clinton: a carronade from HMS Hussar image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 10, 2016
3. At Fort Clinton: a carronade from HMS Hussar
The short-barreled carronades were "ship smashers", firing a very heavy round over a short distance.
(within shouting distance of this marker); Before There Was a Park (within shouting distance of this marker); Andrew Haswell Green Memorial (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Odetta (about 600 feet away); The Vanderbilt Gate (about 700 feet away); Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (approx. 0.2 miles away); The New York Academy of Medicine (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
 
At Fort Clinton: a long gun image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 10, 2016
4. At Fort Clinton: a long gun
The long gun fired a smaller round over a longer distance.
At Fort Clinton: an earlier marker from the 1906 installation image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 10, 2016
5. At Fort Clinton: an earlier marker from the 1906 installation
The Fort Clinton site image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 10, 2016
6. The Fort Clinton site
It's always best to have the high ground.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 11, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 29, 2016, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 280 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 29, 2016, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 23, 2021