My understanding of open city is that it is a military designation that creates a hallow of protection over an urban setting. All of its defenses have been abandoned, and a kind of diplomatic trust ensues. Having lived through the initial shock and the harrowing aftereffects of September 11, 2001, I was wondering how it would feel to visit a perfectly preserved Civil War fort situated at the mouth of the East River to “protect and defend” the people of New York City. Fort Schuyler is a remarkably picturesque and serene enclave that is perched on the tip of a finger of land that juts into the water. Surrounded by the White Stone and the Throgs Neck Bridges, the fort would seem to have a more prominent place in the city’s consciousness. Instead, we felt as if our drive across this narrow piece of land was taking us to a remote island way off the coast and into the Atlantic Ocean.
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