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|Allison Park: Open daylight hours.|
|Alpine Boat Basin: Closed for winter.|
|Alpine Picnic Area: Open daylight hours, pavilion restrooms closed for winter.|
|Englewood Boat Basin: Please call 201 568-1328.|
|Englewood Picnic Area: Open daylight hours, restrooms closed for winter.|
|Fort Lee Historic Park: Grounds open daylight hours. Visitor Center open Wed. to Sun., 10 AM – 4:45 PM.|
|Greenbrook Sanctuary: Open daylight hours, membership required.|
|Hazard’s Dock: Closed for winter.|
|Henry Hudson Drive: Drive 1 closed for winter. Drive 2, Dyckman Hill Road, and Alpine Approach Road open daylight hours, conditions permitting.|
|The Kearney House: Closed for winter.|
|Palisades Interstate Parkway in New Jersey: Open 24 hrs., ongoing pothole repair work (see Parkway Condition Statement).|
|Park Headquarters: Administrative offices open Mon. to Fri., 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM except on New Jersey State holidays (these days are marked on our calendar). Parkway Police desk staffed at all times: 201 768-6001. Click here for Court information.
|Ross Dock Picnic Area: Open daylight hours, restrooms closed for winter.|
|State Line Lookout: Grounds open daylight hours. Lookout Inn open 9:30 AM – 5 PM.|
|Trails: Open daylight hours.|
Sidebar last updated: March 8, 2014
Fort Lee Historic Park is a 33-acre cliff-top park area with scenic overlooks, a reconstructed Revolutionary War encampment, and a Visitor Center. The entrance to Fort Lee Historic Park is on Hudson Terrace immediately south of the George Washington Bridge (directions). Admission to the Historic Park is free; a parking fee of $5 is charged in season and for special events (cash only).
A unique “living history” school program is offered by reservation at Fort Lee Historic Park, and a wide range of special events is held throughout the year. Both the Long Path and the Shore Trail have their southern trailheads just outside the Visitor Center.
For current hours and conditions at Fort Lee Historic Park, please check the chart in the sidebar >
Historic Park grounds are open daily during daylight hours. Pets are not permitted. Bicycles are not permitted beyond the parking area. At the north end of the Historic Park, two overlooks command spectacular views of the George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River, and the skyline of upper Manhattan. (Restrooms and a drinking fountain are available in season.) In the southern portion of the Historic Park, winding pathways lead past a reconstructed blockhouse to gun batteries and firing steps. Opposite the barbette battery, authentically recreated eighteenth-century soldiers’ and officers’ huts, with a well, woodshed, and baking oven, serve as the focal point for interpretive programs (check our calendar page for details).
The Visitor Center is open Weds.–Sun., 10 AM–4:45 PM, with exhibits, gift shop, 150-seat auditorium, restrooms, beverage vending machine, and a water fountain. It is closed on holidays except Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
Fort Lee Historic Park office: 201 461-1776 • firstname.lastname@example.org
From the Fort Lee Historic Park brochure:
Fort Lee found its place in American history during the 1776 British campaign to control New York City and the Hudson River.
Having resisted the British siege of Boston, George Washington turned his attention to the defense of New York City and the Hudson River Valley. Besides constructing fortifications at New York and Long Island, Washington felt it imperative for the army to build and strengthen its defenses along the Hudson River.
The British plan, meanwhile, was to control the length of the Hudson with the overwhelming dominance of its Royal Navy. This plan, if successful, would split the Colonies in half — bringing an early end to the American rebellion.
In July 1776, the Americans began fortifying this site, which they first named “Fort Constitution.” (They later changed the name to “Fort Lee,” to honor General Charles Lee, whose army had achieved a major victory at Charleston, South Carolina, that summer.) On the high ground of northern Manhattan opposite Fort Lee, work had already begun on Fort Washington. On July 12, Admiral Richard Howe sent two British ships, the Rose and the Phoenix, up the Hudson. Cannon fire from Fort Washington alone had little effect on their passage; Washington ordered work on Fort Lee to advance as quickly as possible.
At General Israel Putnam’s suggestion, obstructions were sunk in the river channel between the forts. With these in place, and artillery fire from the twin forts, the Americans believed that no British ships would be able to sail past without sustaining severe losses.
As the summer of 1776 went on, the largest force of British ships ever to have left English shores was amassing in New York Harbor, and by mid-August, Sir William Howe, British Commander-in-Chief (and brother to Admiral Howe), had assembled an army of over 31,000 British and Hessian troops on Staten Island.
On August 22, the British attacked Long Island and five days later forced the Americans to retreat to New York City (at the time, the city comprised only the southern tip of Manhattan Island). In September, the British took New York City and the rest of Manhattan — except for Fort Washington.
On November 16, Fort Washington fell to an overwhelming assault by Crown forces, which captured more than 3,000 American troops.
Washington realized that with the loss of Fort Washington, Fort Lee was of little military value. He ordered General Nathanael Greene, the commander at Fort Lee, to begin preparations to evacuate the fort. An orderly withdrawal, however, was not in store for the Americans…
On November 20, just four days after taking Fort Washington, General Howe ordered General Charles Cornwallis to convey 5,000 men across the Hudson several miles north of Fort Lee. When word of the advancing army reached Washington, he ordered an immediate retreat, before the Fort Lee troops could be cut off and captured by the British force. Most of the American supplies and artillery had to be left behind. These were indeed among the darkest days for the cause of American independence, leading Thomas Paine to pen his famous words,
“These are the times that try men’s souls…”
- Learn about the fight to preserve Fort Lee Historic Park in “Fighting for the Fort.”
- Learn about our unique school program in “The Meaning of a Hut” and “The Making of a Hut.”
- Learn about a forgotten battle that occurred at Fort Lee in “American v. American: the 1781 Battle of Fort Lee” by Todd Braisted.