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Friday, July 31, 2009

Remnants of a City's Defense

Joseph Berger writes:

Those who savor lobster in the seafood restaurants on City Island would be surprised to know that a small windswept island they can glimpse just across the water — Hart Island — once concealed missiles intended to stop a nuclear attack.

Hart Island has served many purposes, as a prison camp, a drug-rehabilitation center and, most famously, as the city’s potter’s field — the burial ground for the unclaimed and the penniless. But from 1955 to 1960, its northern end was one of the nation’s 200 Nike missile sites.

Twenty Ajax missiles, a type of Nike, were hidden there in underground concrete bunkers; the radar systems that guided them were two miles away on Davids Island, just off New Rochelle. Today the base is a relic, although its rusted and brush-covered concrete and steel can still be picked out by a trained eye.

There were 21 missile sites in the region that protected New York City in the Cold War, but the only other one in the city was in Fort Tilden, on the Rockaway peninsula.

link: Hart Island Once Housed a Battery of Missiles to Defend New York City -


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