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    Fort WadsworthFort Wadsworth Staten Island, New York
    Fort Wadsworth was a former US military installation on Staten Island in New York City, that sat on the Narrows, that divide New York Bay into Upper and Lower halves, with this fort being a natural point of defense for the Upper Bay and Manhattan areas. Just before it closed in 1994, it was the longest continually-manned military installation in the nation and is now maintained by the National Park Service. The first use of the land here for military reasons was a site with a blockhouse constructed on it in 1663, and during the Revolutionary War would become known as Flagstaff Fort, which was captured by the British in 1776, and remain in their hands until the end in 1783. In 1806, it would become the responsibility of the state, and in the War of 1812, revert back to the Federal government. It would be divided into smaller units that would then be called, Fort Tompkins and Fort Richmond, with the current name adopted in 1864 to honor Brigadier General James Wadsworth, who was killed in the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War. The fort would fire a 21 gun salute in 1910 to former President Theodore Roosevelt as his ship passed into the Narrows after being gone on a year's trip to Africa and Europe, and in 1913, ground would be broken by President William Howard Taft for a proposed National American Indian Memorial that would be constructed on the site of Fort Tompkins; with a 165 foot tall statue of an American Indian on the bluff that looks out over the Narrows, but the start of WWI and other problems in fundraising would shelf the project. The fort had become an infantry post by 1924, and from 1955 to 1974, it would be the headquarters of the 52nd AAA Brigade. Historic buildings include the Battery Weed, that sits right on the harbor, with Fort Tompkins on the bluff above, and open to the public for guided tours only.

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    The Conference HouseThe Conference House Staten Island, New York
    The Conference House is also called Bentley Manor, and was constructed before 1680, near the southernmost tip of New York state on Staten Island, that became known as "Billop's Point" during the 18th century, when the Staten Island Peace Conference was held in 1776 that unsuccessfully tired to end the Revolutionary War. The house, that is now a city and national landmark, is the only pre-Revolutionary manor house still in existence in the city, located at Conference Hill Park looking out over Raritan Bay. The house is also situated in the Ward's Point Conservation Area, that was separately added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. In 1674, Captain Christopher Billopp, would come to the region after serving many years of distinguished service in the Royal Navy, and obtain a land grant of 932 acres on the southernmost end of Staten Island. Archaeological evidence, that includes shell middens and digs have been conducted by the American Museum of Natural History in 1895 that would show the Raritan band of the Lenape Indians camped in the area and used it as a burial ground. It is known as Burial Ridge, and is the biggest pre-European burial ground in the city. According to legend, Capt. Billopp's seamanship would secure the island for New York, rather than New Jersey, if he could circumnavigate the island in one day, which he did. In 1677, the colonial service would take Billopp to New Castle on the Delaware River, where he would command the local garrison, and after Thomas Dongan was made the governor of the colony of New York, Billopp returned to the city and become active in local government. He would be rewarded with another patent and extend his holdings to 1600 acres. Exactly when he constructed his house isn't known, except for the fact that it was there before 1680, passing down to his great grandson, Christopher Billopp, who had been commissioned a colonel and led loyalist forces against the patriots in the revolution. Once the war was over, the house would be confiscated by the state, without any compensation to the family. In September, 1776, Lord Howe, the commander-in-chief of the British forces in the New World, would broker a meeting with representatives of the Continental Congress in a peace conference that was aimed at stopping the American Revolution. John Adams, Edward Rutledge and Benjamin Franklin would row over from the patriot-held Perth Amboy, New Jersey, to meet for three hours and end with the Americans politely declining Howe's offer, that meant another seven years of war.

April 25, 2011