New Yorkers built a fort at this strategic spot during the War of 1812, fearing a British attack that never came. Now part of Central Park, the remains of Fort Clinton serve as a scenic outlook with rustic features, benches, and an historic cannon and mortar.
Named Fort Clinton in honor of DeWitt Clinton, mayor of New York during the War of 1812, this site fit into a larger fortification system that included two other forts: Nutter’s Battery to the west and Fort Fish to the southwest. The forts were connected by low earthen walls and linked to a gatehouse at McGowan’s Pass that controlled access to a local road. The defensive line was completed with a series of blockhouses. Head west into the heart of the North Woods to see the Blockhouse, the only remaining fort from the War of 1812.
In the 1860s, the designers of Central Park decided to preserve the military sites for both their historical and picturesque value. They used the remains of the fort as a scenic outlook over the northeast section of the Park.
The Conservancy rebuilt Fort Clinton in 2014, recreating some of the historic details and installing new paving, plantings, and rustic furnishings, with the aim to better showcase the panoramic views of Harlem Meer and beyond. The cannon and mortar were also conserved and reinstalled after being in storage. Though they didn’t originate at Fort Clinton, they came from the H.M.S. Hussar, a British warship that sunk in the nearby East River in 1780 during the Revolutionary War. They were donated anonymously to Central Park in 1865.