Description: Fort Jay is a historical United States Army fort on Governors Island in New York City. The oldest structure on the island, it was originally built to defend Upper New York Bay, but has served other purposes.
The walls and gate of the existing fort were rebuilt in 1806 to replace a series of earthen forts built in 1776 and 1794. Barracks on the inside of the fort date back to 1834, first as officers housing, then family housing from the 1930s to 1996. The three 10" and 1 15" Rodman cannons that are still in place date to the American Civil War period, around 1861, and had an accurate range of one mile.
The buildings inside the square shaped walls of the fort are surrounded by a five-pointed star shaped dry moat. The moat is in turn surrounded by a sloped grassy area or glacis, cleared of trees, that would provide no cover for any advancing enemy forces. In the twentieth century, this grass surrounding the fort was used as a golf course by the Army and U.S. Coast Guard until 1996.
The entrance gate is crowned by a sandstone carving of the United States Department of War insignia.
Fort Jay was originally named for John Jay, but was renamed Fort Columbus at the completion of its reconstruction in 1808. The original name, Fort Jay, was restored in 1904.