The Military History Behind New York City’s Liberty Island

Ryan Socash of It’s History explores the fascinating history of Liberty Island, noting how, in the 19th century, it was known as Bedloe’s Island and housed a military structure known as Fort Wood. The island was a strategic point of British invasion by sea, and was staffed accordingly, particularly during the War of 1812.

Originally known as Bedloe’s Island, it was fortified in the early 19th century to safeguard the harbor from potential enemy incursions.The island’s strategic location made it an ideal site for military installations, and it housed various defensive structures over the years, including Fort Wood, which was completed in 1811.

When the war was finally over, the newly constructed Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, was able to finally sit on her iconic pedestal after a year’s wait due to construction. With her presence, the island was renamed Liberty Island, where Lady Liberty stands proudly today. The recently restored Fort Wood still stands beneath her.

As the years ran on Fort Wood also remained unchanged beneath her. Believe it or not,the most recent event of note happened in 2023 when 35,000 square feet of granite on the walls of Fort Wood were restored ensuring that it stands strong for decades to come.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.