Queens, NY

317 acres


00.0 Whitestone Bridge toll

4.0 Van Wyck Expressway

7.5 big curve

11.0 exit 18 Belt Parkway

13.4 17S Cross Bay Blvd Howard Beach

15.6 exit 14 Penn Avenue

16.6 13 Rockaway Parkway

19.6 11S

21.6 $11.50 to 11

23.0 Jacob Riis Park



A former U.S. Army base, Fort Tilden was part of the harbor defense system of New York until its closure in 1974.

The U.S. government took over the area in 1812. Shortly afterwards, the Rockaway Point Life Saving Station was established. Between 1911 and 1930 landfill operations contineud to cover up the salt marsh in the area. The area was commissioned as a fort in 1917. Its name was Fort Funston, named in honor of a hero of the Mexican border wars of that era. The name was changed to honor Samuel J. Tilden, later governor of New York and at one time a Democratic presidential nominee. Originally equipped with mortars, these were replace with 6- and 12-inch guns; later these were replaced by 16-inch giants. These guns were capable of throwing a projectile weight as much as an automobile over 30 miles. The final gun emplacements had guns with a bore diameter of 90mm.

In 1954 the Nike-Hercules missil system was placed at the fort. The fort was decommissioned in 1974. (Source: Scheller 1986)

Inner dunes were built to hide the gun emplacements and command bunkers, and to provide vantage spots for those checking on approaching danger. The army planted some quarter million trees, especially pitch pine and poplar, at Fort Tilden.

Visitors can hike through the back-fort area to explore nature trails and remnants of the military era, participate in organized athletics or attend special events.

The beaches along Fort Tilden contain one of the last natural dune systems in New York City. Although swimming is not permitted in this area, it remains a popular spot for fishing.


Robert Cook/Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Amelanchier canadensis (shadbush)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Pinus thunbergii (Japanese black pine)
Populus alba white poplar)
Populus grandidentata big-tooth aspen)
Prunus maritima (beach plum)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Rhus copallina (winged sumac)
Salix caprea (goat willow)

Baccharis halimifolia (groundsel tree) *
Corylus americana (American hazel)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Hudsonia sp. (heather)
Iva frutescens (marsh elder) *
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rosa rugosa (beach rose) *
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)

Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed) *
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Cuscuta sp. (dodder)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Polygonum scandens (climbing false buckwheat)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet nightshade) *
Strophostyles helvula (trailing wild bean) *
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)

Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Agalinis maritima (seaside gerardia) *
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort) *
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Asparagus officinalis (asparagus)
Aster ericoides (heath aster) *
Aster subulatus (small salt marsh aster) *
Atriplex arenaria (seabeach orache)
Atriplex patula (marsh orache) *
Cakile edentula (sea rocket)
Centaurea maculata (spotted knapweed)
Chenopodium album (pigweed)
Chenopodium ambrosioides (Mexican tea) *
Cichorium intybus (chicory) *
Conyza canadensis (horseweed)
Cycloloma atriplicifolium (winged pigweed)
Daucus carota (queen Anne's lace) *
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pilewort) *
Eupatorium pilosum (rough boneset) *
Euphorbia polygonifolia (seaside spurge) - red-stemmed sprawler
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod) *
Glaux maritima (sea milkwort)
Gnaphalium obtusifolium (sweet everlasting) *
Heterotheca subaxillaris (camphorweed)*
Hibiscus moscheutos (swamp rose mallow) *
Lechea maritima (beach pinweed)
Lemna sp. (duckweed)
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper)
Limonium carolinianum (sea-lavender) *
Lycopus americanus (water horehound) *
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover) *
Mollugo verticillata (carpetweed)
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose) *
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Plantago aristata (bracted plantain)
Pluchea purpurascens (annual salt marsh fleabane) *
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese smartweed)
Polygonum glaucum (sea knotweed)
Polygonum pensylvanicum (Pennsylvania smartweed) *
Polygonum robustius (smartweed) *
Ptilimnium capillaceum (mock bishopweed)
Rumex acetosella (field sorrel)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Salsola kali (saltwort) *
Saponaria officinalis (bouncing bet) *
Solidago sempervirens (seaside goldenrod)
Spiranthes cernua (nodding lady's tresses) *
Trifolium arvense (rabbit's foot clover)
Typha angustifolia (narrow-leaved cattail)
Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cattail)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Xanthium strumarium (clotbur)
Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle)

Rushes and Sedges:
Eleocharis sp. (spike rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush) *
Scirpus americanus (Olney three-square)

Ammophila breviligulata (American beach grass) *
Cenchrus sp. (sand bur)
Distichlis spicata (spike grass)
Eleusine indica (goose grass)
Eragrostis spectabilis (purple love grass)
Panicum spp. (panic grass)
Panicum virgatum (switch grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)
Spartina patens (salt meadow grass)
Spartina pectinata (prairie cordgrass)
Triplasis purpurea (purple sand grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Equisetum sp. (horsetail)
Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern)