One gets a sense of Ft. Hamilton's remoteness in this turn of the century photograph. Note the water background.

One gets a sense of Ft. Hamilton’s remoteness in this turn of the century photograph. Note the harbor in the background.

The piece is not too extensive but there are so few references to Brooklyn’s Ft. Hamilton that I thought I would pass along this New York Times piece about the Army base. If you have never been, I can attest that this is a great excursion. It’s something to think about especially with fall coming up. Ft Hamilton is in an interesting part of the city; the Verrazano Bridge changed the dynamic when it was completed in 1964, but the neighborhood still has its unique feel. I mention Ft. Hamilton every Sunday in my tours at Governors Island. One can’t understand New York Harbor’s coastal defenses without seeing how each fortification fits into a larger picture. Ft. Hamilton has a very long history. To the best of my knowledge it is the last of the system defenses to remain an active military base. Robert E. Lee was stationed there for five years in the early 1840s, just before the Mexican-American War.

In an episode that presages Prohibition, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle noted in its September 12, 1918 edition that the War Department closed fourteen saloons adjacent to the base that day. The article adds that saloons throughout Bay Ridge had been shut down for months prior to that. It is not a coincidence that Prohibition came when it did. The Temperance Movement had been making headway for decades and saw the First World War as their golden opportunity. Many states and localities went dry between 1914-18. The Volstead Act came on May 27, 1919 while President Wilson and his Administration were finalizing Versailles.

(image/Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, The New York Public Library. “Cropsey house, Ft. Hamilton , Bay Ridge, Brooklyn” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1885 – 1914.