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Scar Tissue

The work at Castle Clinton moves along, with the occasional surprise. The picture above shows a short piece of a large steel beam embedded on the fort’s wall. Given that the fort was constructed shortly after 1800 and steel beams this size weren’t rolled until after 1900, we either have evidence of a time machine or of past alteration. The next obvious question is: what alteration?

There are two tunnels under Battery Park. One is the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel, but that’s maybe 50 feet from the fort. The other is an underpass connecting West Street to South Street, allowing drivers to loop around the southern tip of the island. That tunnel passes very near the front side of the fort, which is where that piece of steel is.

The obvious conclusion is that the front of the fort was supported by needle beams during the tunnel construction circa 1950, and the beams were cut short rather than being removed. The fort was restored by the National Park Service (for the first time) in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the beam was buried behind new masonry.

Amazing what you can find…