• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

Island Facts: Georges Island

Explore the Civil War-era Fort Warren, enjoy a picnic lunch, or relax under a shady tree.

 
Dominated by Fort Warren, a National Historic Landmark, this 39-acre island is the center of transportation to the islands. The island is 53 acres at low tide.
 
Short History
At the time of Euro-American colonization, Georges Island was comprised of two drumlins, rising out of the bay like other nearby islands. The island sustained agricultural use for two hundred years until 1825 when the US Government acquired the island for coastal defense. Over the next twenty years the island was dramatically altered and one of the country’s finest forts was built. Dedicated in 1847, the fort’s defensive design was virtually obsolete upon completion. However the fort served as a training ground, patrol point, and Civil War prison that gained a favorable reputation for the humane treatment of its Confederate prisoners. After one hundred years of military use the fort was decommissioned in 1947 and acquired by the MDC for historic preservation and recreation in 1958.

Fort Warren is a National Historic Landmark, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

General Information
This island of Boston Harbor Islands national park area is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

Agency Designation: Harbor Islands Reservation
Current Use: Park purposes
Harbor Location: Quincy Bay
Acreage: 53 (upland acres: 39.14; intertidal acres: 13.76)
Highest elevation: 50 feet
Longitude: 42° 19' 0.52" North
Latitude:
70° 55' 43.2" West
Miles from Long Wharf: 7.33

 
Visitor Facilities & Services
Hours:
9:00 am to Sunset
Piers/Docks:
Yes
Visitor season:
0
Boat slips:
10
Visitor staff:
Yes
Moorings:
0
Guided tours:
Yes
Park boats:
Park shuttle boat
Lifeguards:
No
Car access:
No
Flush toilets:
Yes
Campsites:
0 (capacity ea: 0
Composting toilets:
Yes
Group campsites:
0 (capacity ea: 0)
Picnic areas:
Yes
Camping capacity:
0
Refreshments:
Yes
Cooking grills:
Yes
Drinking water:
Yes
Walking trails:
Yes

Visitor Cautions: The fort contains many steep drop-offs, most of which are protected with safety rails and fencing, and some dark corridors. Children should be supervised when visitng the fort.

 

Natural History Overview
Vegetation
The island has an intensive grounds maintenance program. Most of the island is mowed as turf. Steep slopes not mowed are colonized by tall grasses, wildflowers and sumac. Horsechestnut, elm and maple trees inside the fort are approximately 100 years old. Additional horsechestnut trees were planted by the MDC and are easily discernable. The island contains many apple trees, some planted and some self-sown. Pine and maple trees planted by the MDC in picnic areas offer wind and sun protection. Planters filled with annuals and perennials, installed by the MDC, are raised so not to disturb archeological resources.

Wildlife
Survey in progress.

Geology
Prior to 1833 the island consisted of two drumlins with elevations of 48 and 64 feet, similar to the topography of the east head of Peddocks Island. The fort was tucked in between the two drumlins and the island substantially regraded. The current highpoint of 50 feet exists at the top of the fort’s ramparts.

Water Features
Historically the island relied on cisterns for fresh water. The cistern is still visible on the parade ground near Bastion A. Fresh water is now supplied by a pipe from the mainland.

Views and Vistas
Located in the center of the harbor, the island offers excellent views to the surrounding islands and Boston Light, particularly from the ramparts and the siting towers: downtown Boston, Hull, Islands: The Brewsters, Deer, Gallops, Long, Lovells, Peddocks, and Rainsford Islands.

 
Structures
Buildings
  • Fort Warren
  • Granite powder magazine
  • Ravelin
  • Searchlight station
  • Generator building
  • Small brick electrical communications building
  • Mine storage building (now park offices, maintenance, staff dormitory, public restrooms & concessions)
  • Mine cable building foundation (next to mine storage building)
  • Fuel storage shed near pier
Fortifications
  • Fort Warren: Fronts I-V, Bastions A-E
  • Battery Jack Adams (one 10" gun)
  • Battery Barlett (four 10" guns)
  • Battery Stevenson (two 12" guns)
  • Two range towers on Front II
  • Ravelin and searchlight station
  • Demilune
  • Guardhouse
Other Structures
  • Cistern
  • Tunnel to Sallyport
  • Walkways and steps to former hospital building
  • Pier
  • Seawall

Did You Know?

Vintage Aerial View of Boston Light

Boston Light Station, part of Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, is visited every year by the Flying Santa, a long-time New England tradition started by William Wincapaw in 1929. The Flying Santa delivers food, toys, and other necessities to lighthouses across New England. More...