New York Beach Ferry provides summer service Fri-Sun from Pier 11 at Wall St. in Manhattan to Rockaway.
Get map & directions to Fort Tilden via other transportation. If taking bus, ask driver to let you off at Fort Tilden. Summer parking at Fort Tilden requires permit, but is available at adjacent Jacob Riis Park for fee.
Open daily, dawn-dusk.
The Rockaway Artist Alliance's and Rockaway Theatre Company's buildings (Studio 6, Studio 7, and the Post Theater) are all accessible. Back Fort trails are wheelchair accessible, as are the restrooms at Fort Tilden. Handicapped parking is available. Get more information.
Pristine beaches and trails make this former military base in the Rockaways a hotspot for nature, history, and art enthusiasts
Positioned on Rockaway Peninsula, Fort Tilden—part of Gateway National Recreation Area—offers a mixture of decommissioned military structures and reclaimed natural areas, including some of the most beautiful beaches (un-lifeguarded) in New York that are perfect for walking or fishing.
Tours and other ranger-led programs highlight many great spots to see wildlife in the maritime forest, along the Atlantic shore, and near the fort's freshwater pond. The observatory deck on top of Battery Harris East, a historic gun site, offers dramatic 360-degree panoramic views of Jamaica Bay and New York Harbor, and is a great vantage point from which to spot migrating birds.
Listen to stories about hawking in Fort Tilden and other national park sites around Jamaica Bay from national park ranger and naturalist Dave Taft.
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The former fort is now home to two local non-profit organizations which have transformed abandoned military buildings into a haven for the arts. The Rockaway Artist Alliance offers classes and exhibitions in their gallery spaces located in buildings T-6 and T-7, and the Rockaway Theatre Company offers live theatre productions at the historic Post Theater.
Established in 1917, Fort Tilden is named for Samuel Tilden, who served as Governor of New York from 1875 to 1876. It was the most modern addition to the fortifications of New York Harbor intended to defend the city from attack by sea and air. Through four decades the fort's defenses were upgraded with the technologically advanced weaponry of succeeding generations, including smooth-bore cannons, sixteen inch naval rifles, and Nike Ajax and Hercules air defense missiles.
Eventually its weaponry became obsolete, and the fort was decommissioned as a military installation in 1974. It was then transferred to the control of the National Park Service.
Things to Do
Special Events in January
New Year's Day Walk
1/1, 11am-1pm, Building 1
Take a brisk hike along the beach and visit the hawk watch platform for great views of the beach and bay. Then warm up with refreshments at the Rockaway Artist Alliance Building. Call 718-474-0896 or email email@example.com for more information.
Explore the Back Woods
1/18, 10am-12pm, Building 1
Walk the woods with American Littoral Society naturalist Mickey Maxwell Cohen to search for signs of winter wildlife and little-known historic fortifications of World War II.
Snow Birds of Jamaica Bay
Observe rare winter birds such as snow buntings, horned hawks, grebes and loons on an expedition to Floyd Bennett Field, Fort Tilden and Breezy Point with an NYC Audubon guide. Call 212-691-7483 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations. Fee program. Space is limited.
See calendar for ranger-led nature and history tours and talks.
Hiking, fishing, bird-watching and scenic walks. Swimming is NOT recommended.