Fort Totten is the official headquarters of the U.S. Army Reserve’s U.S. 77th Division, the “Statue of Liberty Division”.
Construction began on Fort Totten in 1862 after the land was purchased by the U.S. Government in 1857 from the Willets family. The fort sits on Willets Point, near Bayside in Queens County, New York. The original purpose was to protect the East River approach to New York Harbor, along with Fort Schuyler, which faces it from Throgs Neck on the opposite side of the river entrance. The fort was named in 1898 after Joseph Gilbert Totten.
In 1954, the fort became a Project Nike air defense site. Although no missiles were located at Fort Totten, it was the regional headquarters for the New York area; administrative offices and personnel housing was located at the fort. Fort Totten was also the headquarters for the 66th Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion, Battery D, whose missiles where located at nearby Fort Slocum on Hart Island. This use of Fort Totten was discontinued in 1974.
Much of the fort has become a public park and is open to the people of NYC for tours by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. During the winter months, a large variety of migratory waterfowl can be observed in the surrounding Long Island Sound and Little Neck Bay. Most of the buildings are now run-down and not used. Fort Totten is also a sports complex, as it holds baseball fields and three soccer fields used for youth soccer.