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Fort Tilden Adventure - Riffs and Licks
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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12 comments or Leave a comment
iguffy From: iguffy Date: September 20th, 2005 12:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I love those old police cars! I have to take photos of them sometime, wherever I can find them.
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: September 20th, 2005 01:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me too. I watched The French Connection a while back and was just transported to my childhood. (Not that we sold heroin, just the old police cars and subways and the smudge pots around construction sites, etc.)
mkvl3 From: mkvl3 Date: September 20th, 2005 01:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Are the fort and airport gated? Or are they more or less very easy to get go and available for the public to enter?
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mkvl3 From: mkvl3 Date: September 20th, 2005 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: airport

More specifically, the abandoned warehouses and hangars on the property. Are they easily accessible?
bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: September 20th, 2005 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: airport

Oh, not so dismal, I think. Technically the hangars themselves are off-limits. Also off-limits at Floyd Bennett are the NYPD aviation field, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Center, the New York City Department of Sanitation Training Center, and the U.S. Park Police training area behind its administration building. The Admin building and air traffic control tower is now ca museum. Otherwise there's lots of empty space to roam around.

Almost nothing in Fort Tilden, in Rockaway, is off limits except a locked maintenance yard and a small section of what used to be a U.S. Army Reserve Center. You do have to have a parking permit to park on Fort Tilden; those are given almost exclusively to fishermen. You can inquire at the Administration building, just south of the Marine Parkway Bridge, opposite the Firehouse (Engine 329, I think).
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bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: September 20th, 2005 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: dismal

Yeah, I understand. I kind of like the ruined, post-apocalyptic look, but that's because I never served at CGAS Brooklyn. I would probably feel differently about Governor's Island, for example.
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bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: September 20th, 2005 11:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: gasssssp

If that parking lot full of nostalgia was on the southbound side of Flatbush on the north side of the Belt...

Negatrons, BH: the pictures of police cars were taken in the Toys-Backwards "R"-Us parking lot on the east side of Flatbush, just across from the Highway Patrol precinct.

Great history about Floyd Bennett Field, thanks!
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bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: September 20th, 2005 05:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: gasssssp

...had NAS NY not been closed the events of 9/11 would've been dramatically different.

I've heard people say that. In the pre-9/11 mindset, I'm not sure whether the Navy would have given pilots the go-ahead in time to shoot down a civilian jumbo jet, Dick Cheney's unconstitutional authorization notwithstanding. I read an account of a (I think) a Massachusetts ANG pilot who was given weapons-free, but who arrived on the scene too late. In retrospect he wasn't sure he could have pulled the trigger, either.

Here's the chain of events as I see it. In the 18 minutes between the time American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower:

An NAS NY (NAS Brooklyn?) flight of Tomcats or Hornets would have to be already airborne or on very short alert, and be armed with live weapons.

The NCA would have to authorize the downing of a civilian airliner.

The Navy would have to pass that order down the chain of command to the pilots.

The pilots would have to acquire and identify United Airlines Flight 175 on radar, and possibly visually, and be sure (enough) that it was heading for the WTC (or at least under the control of hijackers).

The pilots (or at least one of them) would have to pull the trigger.

The missiles would have to hit the target (this is likely: a 767 is big and relatively slow as air combat targets go).

The missiles would have to damage United 175 sufficiently, and sufficiently far from the WTC, to prevent the crash (this is probable, but not a given because of the aircraft's size, and because it could still fly with one engine destroyed).

There's a lot of room for error in that scenario, especially given the 18-minute window (practically speaking, more like a 5- or 10- minute window by the time everyone up and down the chain of command has their head in the game.

Even if everything worked out perfectly, of course, everyone on United 175 would still have died, along with an unknowable number of people on the ground, depending upon where the flight was intercepted.
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: September 20th, 2005 01:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: gasssssp

GREAT story -- thank you!
bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: September 20th, 2005 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Dude, nice pictures.
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: September 20th, 2005 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
yo thanks posted more cya
crazyzim From: crazyzim Date: September 20th, 2005 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
i love fort tilden & floyd bennett field. a good friend of mine used to work for the nat'l. park service @ gateway and we hung out there a lot -- good times. he even got to ride in the blimp once and took AMAZING photos up there of the bay and the marine park bridge.
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