Fort Totten is located in an area of Bayside first settled by colonists during the American Revolution. Before colonists moved into the area, Matinecock Indians lived on the lands. During the Civil War, the North needed a way to protect the East River, so builders completed plans for the fort, which were actually designed in 1857 by Robert E. Lee while he served as a captain. Across the East River, Fort Schuyler sat in defense of the River as well. Fort Totten never saw any action during the Civil War, and after the war ended, the Fort became obsolete because technology had developed beyond the Fort's capabilities.
In 1987, New York City was given Fort Totten as a gift along with ten acres of land, which the City turned into a park. The actual Fort has been used for a range of purposes from a fire department to a theater. In 2001, the City received another 93 acres of land, which extended the park and allowed the city to add sport's fields, areas to eat, and other accommodations for the public to enjoy.