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Fort Columbus or Fort Jay

Even Governor’s Island, once a smiling garden, appertaining to the sovereigns of the province, was now covered with fortifications, inclosing a tremendous blockhouse, – so that this once peaceful island resembled a fierce little warrior in a big cocked hat, breathing gunpowder and defiance to the world! – Washington Irving, “Knickerbocker’s New York.” The graceful little island of Washington Irving is described in a recent publication of the government printing office at Washington after the following eloquent fashion: ” Irregular in form but approaches nearly the segment of an oblate spheroid, its longest diameter being from north to south, and about 800 yards in length. The transverse diameter is about 500 yards. It has an elevation above high water mark of 20 feet, and its face is smooth and green, with a rich carpet of grass.” On the top of the highest feature of this smooth, green face with its rich carpet of grass is Fort Columbus, more properly known by its ancient name of Fort Jay. No doubt you will find it hard to visualize the importance of Fort Jay. It is the headquarters of the Department of the East of the army of the United States, you may be told. Yes, you will answer indifferently, it is a quiet little place, not nearly so noisy as the roaring forties of Broadway; it keeps to itself and is a sort of annex to the foot of the city to prevent the seaward view from the Battery being without variety! Yet once on a time, not much more than a hundred years ago, Fort Jay was of so great...

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