Fort Tildens military history started in 1912 at the entry of the US into the First World War. The base had been a coastal battery and housed Nike missiles for Cold War defense until 1974 when it was given to the National Park Service. Since then the forgotten military base has become a playground for the young and adventurous. The park has undergone a transformation from a defensive military base built on the fear of invasion to a place of leisure and exploration. Opposite the beach lies a labyrinth of paths through the thicket of the dunes. Left alone, nature has flourished and dismantled the buildings and infrastructure of Ft Tilden. From the crumbling ruins, the new visitors resourcefully cultivate debris into sun shelters and artistic totems. Along the waters edge, sand castles metaphorically wash into the sea, foreshadowing the fate of the derelict defenses inland.

© Aaron Wojack 2024

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