Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook lighthouse2

It’s a beautiful day and we got up early so decided to take a drive to our next lighthouse… Sandy Hook

In 1895, the U.S. Army renamed the “Fortifications at Sandy Hook” as Fort Hancock. The installation would protect New York Harbor from invasion by sea. Its yellow brick buildings were constructed largely between 1898-1910, with the fort reaching its peak population in World War II. Fort Hancock’s defenses waxed and waned with the needs of the nation from the end of the Spanish-American War through the end of World War II. The core of the fort was referred to as the Main Post (now Fort Hancock Historic Post).

The fort’s population peaked during World War II to more than 7,000 soldiers. These included members of the Women’s Army Corps, who were housed in Barracks 25. Male soldiers, who called it the “WAC Palace,” were denied entry. African-American soldiers also worked and lived here in a move that predated the overall desegregation of the Army, which occurred in 1947 by an executive order from President Harry S Truman.

Aircraft changed the style of warfare forever, and by the end of World War II anti-aircraft guns had taken over the key defensive role at Fort Hancock. The Cold War era brought a change from anti-aircraft guns to Nike Missiles that could intercept jet warplanes. These surface-to-air nuclear missiles were housed here between 1954 and 1974.

The fort was decommissioned on December 31, 1974. Since then, most of Fort Hancock has served the public as the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. The remainder of the peninsula serves as U.S. Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook.

The Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook Proving Ground National Historic Landmark covers the entire peninsula, including what is now under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard. Visitors may tour gun batteries and the historic post as well as enjoy Sandy Hook’s trails and beaches.

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