Fort Totten – Part 1

December 23, 2009

If you’ve never visited Fort Totten, make plans. This is a quiet corner of New York rich with history that began with a purchase of the land from the Willets Family some 150 years ago [Wikipedia].  The Willets Farmhouse, as you’ll see in one of my photos, stands dilapidated today scheduled for renovation.

Now most Mets fans have heard of the name Willets Point. This is where the 7 train stops to go to the Shea Stadium. However, no one really knows why that part of Corona, Queens, is called Willets Point. The question was asked. Most people may not know that the Willet family name has a deeper history related to New York itself. According to this, Capt. Thomas Willet (1610) was the first English mayor of New York, after the British had re-named New Amsterdam to New York; he’d led the army that invaded New Amsterdam.

Whatever the case maybe, the land area of the current Fort Totten was bought from a certain Charles Willet. I have to guess all the Willets spread out over Northeast are related somehow. There is a theory that Fort Totten connects to Fort Schuyler of the Bronx via a tunnel, but no one has been able to prove that. This man says tunnel exists. But this man, a historian, years before, denied (2nd question).

I feel the series of photos at Fort Totten is incomplete without an accompanying one of Fort Schuyler. I’ll be visiting that soon.

This is a 3-parter series. In this part you’ll see the tunnel, then the battery, ending with us about to enter the pitch dark gun powder storage (Nat Geo did a piece about this), and you’ll also see a video clip I shot inside. In Part 3, you’ll see pictures from other parts of Fort Totten.

Part 2 + Part 3

Have you seen my series on Ellis Island, Sandy Hook, and Governor’s Island?

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