Now a public park, this is the site of a fortification that dates back to the mid-18th century and was an active military post as late as 1865. The New Haven Harbor fort was manned in the Civil War but last saw action in the American Revolution and is named in honor of Connecticut Revolutionary military leader Nathan Hale. Each of the forts from the wooden ones constructed in the colonial era to the fort meant to protect ships and the city from Confederate raiders was dismantled, and in 1921 the city began to maintain the area as a park. The park is the site of many events related to the history of the area throughout the year and includes a reconstructed Revolutionary-era fort as well as a partially restored Civil War fort.


  • Creating a reconstructed fort and restoring the remains of a Civil War fort was part of New Haven's commemoration of the nation's bicentennial in 1776.
    Creating a reconstructed fort and restoring the remains of a Civil War fort was part of New Haven's commemoration of the nation's bicentennial in 1776.

In 1776 the colony of Connecticut commissioned the construction of a fort on the point of a rock that stretched out into the harbor. The fort protected the port and area ships from the British navy and militia members fired cannons at British ships during the 1779 invasion of New Haven. Unfortunately for the colonists, the small garrison was insufficient to stop the invasion and British General William Tryon captured Black Rock Fort along with its nineteen defenders. The British burned the small barracks as they marched into and occupied New Haven. 

When diplomacy between America and the British deteriorated in the early 1800s, the site of the former fort was reconstructed with funding from Congress. The new fort included masonry walls, six guns and a magazine, and barracks for fifty men. The structure was named Fort Nathan Hale and served to defend the port from the British in the War of 1812. The British did not attack succeed in occupying the area in the short war and the fort was abandoned. 

In 1863, a new fort also named Fort Nathan Hale was built alongside the 
original fort as a reaction to concerns that Southern raiders might strike area vessels and even raid the port city during the Civil War. The new fort included earthen ramparts, five bombproof bunkers, a moat with a drawbridge, and eighteen guns. The fort saw no action and parts of it were demolished while the rest was left to deteriorate after the war.

After 1921 the site was turned over to the city to maintain and became a recreational area. Maintenance was often insufficient as the area became more polluted and the area was largely abandoned following destruction from the hurricane of 1938
. In 1967, the Fort Nathan Hale Restoration Project was established leading to renewed interest and resources to return the area to use as a recreational area. With increased interest in the area leading up to the Bicentennial, a replica of the Revolutionary-era fort was built and the park was rededicated on  July 5, 1976. 

"Welcome to Fort Nathan Hale." Welcome to Fort Nathan Hale. Accessed October 10, 2018. http://www.fort-nathan-hale.org/. 

"Fort Nathan Hale." Wikipedia. November 14, 2017. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Nathan_Hale. 

Pelland, Dave. "Fort Nathan Hale, New Haven." CT Monumentsnet. Accessed October10, 2018. http://ctmonuments.net/2010/08/fort-nathan-hale-new-haven/.