Fort Stirling Park
Fort Stirling Park
In March 1776, American forces built Fort Stirling on this site to protect ships on the East River. They originally named it Fort Half-Moon, because its shape resembled a crescent. The Americans were ousted from Brooklyn after the Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn) in August 1776, and the British occupied the fort until 1783. According to tradition, residents of Kings County demolished the fort not long after the British evacuation.
Prior to destroying the fort, however, the American colonists renamed it for Major General William Alexander (17261783), also known as Lord Stirling. An American Revolutionary general, Alexander was considered a nobleman in America despite the fact that his claim to succeed the sixth Earl of Stirling was rejected by the British House of Lords (the upper house of the British Parliament). Stirling served in the French and Indian War (1754-1763), and was noted for his leadership of the Fourth Brigade in the Battle of Long Island in 1776. In a maneuver that permitted 300 American men to escape, Stirling surrendered himself to the British forces. He was later freed in a prisoner exchange and fought at Trenton, New Jersey (December 1776), Brandywine, Pennsylvania (September 1777), Germantown, Pennsylvania (October 1777), and Monmouth, New Jersey (June 1778). Stirling was also renowned for his support of General George Washington (1732-1799) in the Conway Cabal, the supposed plot of October 1778 to replace Washington as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army with General Horatio Gates (1782?-1806).
In 1867, the City of Brooklyn designated this parkland Brooklyn Heights Park. Twenty-one years later, the park became the property of the newly consolidated City of New York. In 1925, the Board of Aldermen voted to rename the site Fort Stirling Park in recognition of its historical significance. At that time, the Fort Greene Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution presented the park with a granite tablet to mark the site of Fort Stirling.
Though the park has been in existence since 1867, it was not opened to the public until 1935. That year, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981) developed six “pocket parks” bordering Columbia Heights and Clark, Pierrepont, Pineapple, Orange, Cranberry, and Middagh streets. A 0.074-acre plot containing the commemorative tablet had been separated from the park proper when the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit) Clark Street Tunnel was built in 1904. In 1966, the Brooklyn Heights Association urged Parks to add this parcel back to Fort Stirling Park in order to preserve the park’s river views. The plot appeared on the City's surplus auction list in 1971 and was subsequently added to the park, bringing it to its current acreage. A black iron fence surrounds the park, a plaque commemorates Fort Stirling, and visitors can view the Brooklyn Bridge, the East River, and the Manhattan skyline.