History Comes Alive At Fort Totten Park
During the Civil War, Fort Totten served as a United States Army base and its historic building was used to store weapons for Union forces. For more than a century, the fort guarded the Long Island Sound until it was decommissioned and converted into a public park three years ago. Two weeks ago we opened the new Fort Totten Visitors Center. The interior was reconfigured to accommodate educational displays highlighting the park's role in American history.
On March 14, Commissioner Benepe joined Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, City Council Member Tony Avella, State Senator Frank Padavan and State Senator Toby Stavisky along with fourth-grade students from P.S. 209 to cut the ribbon on $1.3 million in renovations to the Fort Totten Visitors Center in Bayside, Queens.
“From military weapon storage site to shoe repair facility to Visitors Center for a public park, this building’s historic legacy lives on,” said Commissioner Benepe. “Thanks to funding from Mayor Bloomberg and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Parks was able to reconstruct the Fort Totten Visitors Center and make it ADA-accessible and more user-friendly. We look forward to hosting educational displays about the park’s history and environmental significance for Queens residents and visitors to enjoy.”
With $450,000 allocated by Mayor Bloomberg and $850,000 in funding allocated by Borough President Helen Marshall, the Parks Department renovated the historic building, which was once used for military storage in the early 1900s and as a shoe repair facility in the 1940s. The center features a new ADA accessible entrance way, ADA compliant comfort station, roof, exterior paving, and interior configuration with room for museum displays.
“I am happy to support this project, which is a centerpiece of the historic Fort Totten rebirth that will benefit and provide enjoyment for generations of visitors,” said Queens Borough President Marshall.
The renovation of the Visitors Center at Fort Totten Park is another major element in the conversion of the park, a former civil war fortress and Army base, into a beautiful 50-acre park. Fort Totten was acquired as part of the Federal Lands to Parks Program and was opened to the public as a park by Mayor Bloomberg on June 13, 2005, making it Queens’ first major new park to open in decades. The historic battery was renovated and opened to the public in June of 2005. In the summer of 2007, Fort Totten Pool, formerly operated by the YMCA, was opened to the public.
The Fort Totten Visitors Center will serve as an important museum for park visitors to learn about Fort Totten’s historical as well as environmental significance. The museum display, which will be expanded in the future, currently includes two civil war replica uniforms, replica artillery, and maps of the fort. The Parks Department’s Urban Park Rangers, the City’s outdoor specialists, will run their Fort Totten education programs from the Visitors Center building.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.”
(1879 – 1955)