The mission of the Harbor Defense Museum of New York City is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret historically significant material related to the history of Fort Hamilton and the seacoast defense in New York. The museum is located in part of the garrison’s original masonry fort that is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As the only Army Museum in New York City, the Harbor Defense Museum has a fine collection of military artifacts from the American Revolution to World War II. The museum is free, open to the general public and welcomes tour groups of all kinds.
Built between 1825 and 1831, Fort Hamilton became part of a system of fortifications built throughout New York City. The fort is named in honor of Alexander Hamilton. Fort Hamilton had two missions. The first was to support actions against enemy warships seeking to pass through the Narrows, the primary entrance into New York City’s harbor. Its second was to defend itself and the other Narrows forts against land based infantry attacks. Its dry ditch was a carefully conceived kill zone. The capioner was a flank battery designed to protect the rear of Fort Hamilton from an infantry led attack. Today the museum is located in the capioner, a rare structure in military architecture.
Take a trip and discover an important treasure of New York City's military past. Come explore exhibits on the Battle of Brooklyn, Fort Hamilton, World War I, World War II, and see firsthand the remains of old Fort Hamilton. A visit to the Harbor Defense Museum also provides students an opportunity to learn more about the role of the U.S. Army in New York City.
- Battle of Brooklyn - On August 27, 1776, a month after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, American Soldiers and British forces fought in the Battle of Brooklyn. In essence it was America’s first battle. This exhibit area includes an array of artifacts from the American Revolution. A walk to the bluff and a visitor can overlook the bay the British invasion fleet crossed during August of 1776.
- USAG Fort Hamilton - Fort Hamilton is one of the oldest continuously serving U.S. Army installations in the country. Today only half of the original fortification survived the changes over the last 185 years. Some of the items on display in this area are a model of the fortifications protecting the Narrows, a model of the original layout of Fort Hamilton, and a pictorial history of Alexander Hamilton.
- A Soldier’s Journey during WWI - This exhibit follows the journey of First Class Gunner Angelo A. Rizzo and his unit the 59th Coastal Artillery Corps (C.A.C.) during World War I. The 59th C.A.C. formed at Fort Hamilton during December of 1917. By the end of March of 1918, the 59th C.A.C. was ordered to France and fought at the St. Mihiel and Meuse Argonne Offensives. Using Rizzo’s diary our staff created a map outlining the movements of the 59th C.A.C. Along with the map in this area are Rizzo’s identification disc, bunk and mess assignment card aboard the Olympic, diary, and M1917 tunic he wore in France.
Staff Rides and School Tours
Many schools from the New York City area visit the Harbor Defense Museum to learn more about Fort Hamilton and the system of seacoast fortifications built to protect New York City. Our experienced team offers a tour of the museum along with a structured classroom program which can be tailored for various grade levels. Our classroom programs primarily focus on the development of harbor defenses in the New York City area and/or an engaging presentation on the Battle of Brooklyn. The tour concludes on the bluff, which provides a spectacular view of the Lower New York Bay and the Narrows. The material is appropriate for 4th grade and older students. Group tours are limited to no more than 60 individuals and require reservations. We are committed to providing training and educational opportunities to all Soldiers of the U.S. Army, current service members, veterans and civilians.
Visiting the Museum
Closed on Federal Holidays.
Brooklyn, NY 11252
230 Sheridan Loop
Brooklyn, NY 11252
Phone: (718) 630-4349