Life as we knew it!
Fort Slocum, also known as Davids Island, is an island located in Long Island Sound, just off the coast of New Rochelle, NY. The island is comprised of about 120 acres, some of which is under water during high tide. Nearby and adjacent islands include Glen Island and Hart Island which is considered a sister island for the dismantled Nike Missile site, which served as protectionto New York City from foreign invasion and attack.
During the American Civil War the island was a prisoner of war camp for Confederate soldiers. From 1867 to 1948 Fort Slocum was used again as a prisoner of war camp during World war II , as a General Recruiting Depot, Recruit Training Post, Staging Area and Rehabilitation Center, Artillery Corps Post, Artillery Mortar Post and many other uses. It was transferred to the Air Force then back to the Army in 1951. Fort Slocum was home to the U.S. Army Chaplain School, from 1951 to 1962, as well as the assigned military personnel and their dependents and also provided housing and logistical support to the Defense Information School from 1962 to 1965, when the base was closed.
In 1965, the base was determined obsolete and declared excess property of the Department of Defense by the Federal Government and the base was closed and slated for eventual disposal. After that, the property was abandoned and ceded to the City of New Rochelle in 1967. In 1968, the City of New Rochelle sold the property to Con Edison, who was considering building a nuclear power plant of the island. Subsequently, Con Edison desisted from the plan and sold the property back to the City of New Rochelle in 1976. Discussion was developed into converting the island into a park,
Between the periods from 1965 to 2008 the island was subjected to abandonment, neglect, vandalism, and arson. The structures on the island deteriorated through lack of maintenance, decay and proliferation and random overgrowth of jungle like vegetation that virtually took over whatever structure or debris left on the island. In 1980 business mogul and property developer Donald Trump originated plans for an exclusive residential and resort complex on the island, but trashed the plans for lack of investors. Eventually Trump developed a project in the City of New Rochelle and constructed a “Trump Towers” in a rundown area of the city.
The island, for those who had a chance lived, grew up there or had the opportunity experience this jewel of an island and what it brought with it, the thrills, the chills, the happy moments and even sad ones. The beautifully hot summers with a place to cool off, the trips to the 1964 New York Worlds Fair, The Beatles and the pope in Shea stadium, Jones Beach, the teen clubs in Ft Slocum, Fort Jay, Fort Tilden and Ft. Hamilton, the escapes to New York and to neighboring rock islands, and I could go on. And just when we were grown up and ready to go back…and relive past memories…
Since the advent of the internet, persona websites, ICQ, Facebook and the formation of other social media groups, a group of ex-residents and visitors of Fort Slocum AKA Davids Island banded together to try to save what was left of Fort Slocum, unfortunately, without much success. The island and the debris was declared environmentally unsafe and the $32M dollars that were allocated to save the island and convert it into a form of historic park fell apart and the money was used by the US Army Corps of Engineers to bulldoze the remaining structures and remove supposedly contaminated soil. The island is now an inhospitable jungle maze full of poison ivy, briar and haphazardly growing trees, vines and bushes. Nonetheless, Slocumates still love and hold the island and its inerasable memories embedded deep in their hearts.
Ft Slocum Today – Aerial
Ft Slocum 1968 -Aerial