Gateway National Recreation Area overlaps two states and includes areas in three New York City boroughs: Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The history of the park's three units---Jamaica Bay, Sandy Hook and Staten Island---has been shaped by their access to New York Harbor. State Island also includes places such as a former airfield, former Army fortifications and a public park created from a landfill. At Fort Wadsworth, Battery Weed is one of the places where stone forts protected New York Harbor. Fort Wadsworth is one of the oldest military installations in the nation. The site occupies 226 acres on the northeastern shore of Staten Island, on the Narrows of New York Harbor. In the 1860s, Battery Weed was built here to defend New York Harbor. Fort Wadsworth, as it was named after the Civil War, still watches over the Narrows, its ships and the wildlife that still finds its way here. A lighthouse was added to Battery Weed in 1903, which was made obsolete by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Researching the history of segregation and integration of the military at Gateway’s sites and how the 1948 executive order to integrate the military impacted these sites will provide a snapshot of the integration of the military facilities in the Gateway areas as well as a larger understanding of the struggle for Civil Rights among minorities in federal service. This project will contribute to the Park’s future interpretation of the sites as well as assist us with future rehabilitation and prioritization of our structures. The information gained will also be incorporated into the “Park for Every Classroom Program” and will focus on the Civil Rights movement in the New York area in the World War II era, through the lens of integrated military facilities.