Fort Tilden Adventure

I got to give my new bicycle a workout over the weekend as bobhowe and I rode out to Fort Tilden, in the Rockaways. I’d never been there before, and I’m rediscovering one of the joys of bicycling — access to areas of the city you’d never walk to and couldn’t drive to. Fort Tilden opened in 1917 and closed in 1974; despite the annoying Geocities promotional crap, this is a good page with history and more photos.

Early 70s Police Car Early 70s Police Car
As we rode down Flatbush Avenue we saw some old police cars in a parking lot. It was apparently part of some police memorial motorcycle ride. This car, the police car I remember as a child, caught my eye, so we rode in to check them out and take pictures.
Late 70s Police Car Late 70s Police Car
Cops being cops, we had an “Oops, we walked into the wrong bar” moment. I had to take one more picture, this one of what I think was the first blue-and-white NYC police car.
Fort Tilden Fort Tilden
We escaped the police, and rode over the bridge to the Rockaways, and made a right turn to Fort Tilden. It’s mostly abandoned now, and quite photogenic.
Fort Tilden Fort Tilden
Much of the area looks like the setting for J.G. Ballard novel. Some portions of it seem to be used for reserve training, but mostly it’s just a demonstration of nature’s ability to recapture anything you try to take from it.
Fort Tilden Fort Tilden
As with these vines, tearing an old building down in slow motion.
Battery Harris East Battery Harris East
This emplacement used to hold a 16-inch gun that would fire a shell 30 miles.
Atop the emplacement Atop the emplacement
Looking out towards Sandy Hook.
Fuji Blimp Fuji Blimp
Heading to Sheepshead Bay.
Floyd Bennett Field Floyd Bennett Field
Speaking of J.G. Ballard! Abandoned, weedy runways, the occasional buzz of a radio-controlled plane, but mostly just silence and enormous spaces.
Fuji Blimp At Home Fuji Blimp At Home
And then, you turn a corner, and there’s the Fuji Blimp! Apparently, this is where it lands. The blimp balances on its one landing wheel as the handlers get it ready to take off.
Gondola Gondola
Closeup as the blimp takes off. Believe it or not, blimps are very loud. Big engines driving big propellers.

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