Fort Gibson: The Other Ellis Island Story
The stones you see here reveal yet another layer of the story of Ellis Island. This is the story of Fort Gibson, one of the earliest forts built after the American Revolution to protect New York Harbor. Discovered during the excavations for the American Immigrant Wall of Honor, these remains of the walls of Fort Gibson bear witness to the nearly 100 years when Ellis Island was used to ward off enemies rather than to welcome immigrants. Two forts stood on the site. The first was a crescent-shaped structure of wood and sod built in 1794 on the edge of what was then the island’s shoreline. The stone and brick walls unearthed here were constructed between 1807 and 1811, when the fort was rebuilt just before the War of 1812 broke out between the United States and Great Britain. The fort was armed with approximately thirteen cannons and garrisoned 182 soldiers. It was also used fifty years later by Union forces during the Civil War.