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Exploring Ft. Wadsworth

7 Blocks
September 22, 2012 5:43:29 AM PDT
Since 1978, New York City Marathon runners have started their 26.2 mile journey on the Staten Island side of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and this is where all 47,000 plus runners will gather this year: in a parking lot and field inside Fort Wadsworth.

As the start of the NYC Marathon gets closer, 7 Blocks focuses on the neighborhoods surrounding the route. We begin with the start of the race and what there is to see within seven blocks of Fort Wadsworth.

Fort Wadsworth is one of the oldest military sites in the United States. Variations of the fort have been defending the New York Harbor for almost 200 years. Today, Fort Wadsworth is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area and maintained by the National Park Service.

"This is a great place for people to come to walk, to explore the history of the United States," Gateway NRA Superintendent Linda Canzanelli said.

One of the first points of interest inside Fort Wadsworth is the much smaller Fort Tompkins, one of a series of fortifications in the 1800s that helped give the site the title "The Guardian of the Narrows." A lighthouse helps to light the way.

"That lighthouse was put up in 1903," Park Ranger Steve Salgo said. "When they shut the light down to the statue, this became the navigational pull for all the ships coming in."

Just down the hill from Fort Tompkins sits Battery Weed. Built along the shoreline, the unique granite structure could have fired over 116 cannonballs in the narrows at an approaching enemy warship. Today, it's just ghosts of its history.

A torpedo shed that used to store underwater mines is next door, a structure worn down by time. However, what is timeless is the view from the popular overlook.

A campsite is the newest addition to Fort Wadsworth. Seven overnight stations are nestled among the trees and historic fortifications, offering incredible views and secluded beach.

"It's a hidden treasure," resident Mark Digregio said. "Not too many people know about it, but it's getting popular now." And another new addition? The goats used to trim the lawn and pull the weeds.

History, incredible views, and family fun can all be found within seven blocks of the start of the NYC Marathon, in Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island.

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