A Brief History of Fort Washington Park

Fort Washington Park New York (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fortwashingtonpark) is rich in history and beauty. A valued part of the neighborhood of Washington Heights, it is easily accessible by public transportation and will be well worth the trip. Whether you’re interested in the history of Fort Washington Park, would like to check out the famous Little Red Lighthouse (the only lighthouse in all of Manhattan), or would like to spend your time gazing at the breath taking view of the Hudson River, Fort Washington Park has something for everyone.

The history of Fort Washington Park has roots that reach all the way back to the American Revolution. Being the highest point on Manhattan Island, it was originally a fortified position during George Washington’s defense of New York in 1776. This was the beginning of Fort Washington Park history. Fort Washington and it’s sister fort across the river, Fort Lee, were built to create a safe escape route for American soldiers as well as to prevent British forces from being able to go up river. While the fort was a valiant effort on the parts of General Washington and the Continental army, New York ultimately fell to the British and stayed that way until 1783.

In 1894, Fort Washington Park New York was mapped as stretching from Dyckman (179th) Street to 155th Street and from Riverside Drive to the Hudson River and was officially named Fort Washington Park. In the beginning of the 20th century, there were several different plans proposed for building on Fort Washington Park including a sister hotel to the West End Hotel and an open air stage, but each time plans were announced to build something in the park, the people in Washington Heights rallied together to protect their little slice of peaceful respite.

Currently, the most famous landmark of Fort Washington Park history is The Little Red Lighthouse, officially named Jeffrey’s Hook and star of the children’s book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.” The lighthouse was built in 1880 and moved to it’s current position in 1921. When the George Washington Bridge was built so close to it in 1931, it negated Jeffrey’s Hook and, though plans were announced to auction off the little lighthouse, the public demanded that The Little Red Lighthouse be saved and left in it’s current location.

Fort Washington Park is a pretty little park with some fantastic views of both the George Washington Bridge and of the Hudson River. Between the views and the fascinating history, it’s definitely a piece of Manhattan that shouldn’t be missed.

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