Fort William Henry in New York City


This fort was originally built as Fort Amsterdam by the Dutch in 1626.  It was located in lower Manhattan near Battery Park, where the Custom House is presently located. The site is now surrounded by Bridge, Water and State Streets and Bowling Green.   This fort should not be confused with the better-known Fort William Henry at Lake George.

The following drawing shows the fort as it existed in 1695, when it was known as Fort George at the Battery, to distinguish it from other Fort Georges in the New York area.  Generally, forts were named after the rulers of England, or other high officials, and the names were changed as the officeholders changed.  Note that North is at the bottom of the illustration.

During the American Revolution, it was determined that the fort (and indeed, the entire city) could not feasibly be defended against a determined British attack.  Accordingly, a portion of the fort's walls was pulled down so that the British could not use it as a stronghold.  The fort later fell into disrepair.  It was demolished in 1790, replaced by Castle Clinton (also called Castle Garden), which still stands. The Governor's residence also was inside the fort.  After Governor Bellmont died, he was buried in the fort.  His body was found and reinterred nearby during later construction.

The dramatic event described in the main documentprobably occurred to the west of the fort, between the fort and the Hudson River.  This was at what is now the inland edge of Battery Park.  At the time, the current location of Castle Garden in the Park was well into the river.  The foundation of Castle Garden was built in 35 feet of water.  That fort is now used as the ticket booth for the boats to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.