Two Nike Hercules Missiles at Fort Tilden, 1969.
After the end of World War II, the Coast Artillery Corps was abolished and the fate of coastal forts throughout the country was unclear. Fort Tilden was no exception. While the military nature of the facility remained in question, the state of New York saw an immediate need to provide housing for veterans and their families. In 1946, the Army allowed forty-six of Fort Tilden's barracks to be converted by the state into 350 apartments. With the Cold War heating up in Korea, the Army needed Fort Tilden for troops again and 281 families vacated the housing in 1951.
Fort Tilden's barracks were converted back to troop housing and other military uses. The garrison became home to the 69th Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA) Battalion. This brought 1,000 men to the peninsula to staff four batteries of 90mm guns. Each battery had 4 guns for a total of 16 guns.
Anti-aircraft guns were soon no longer sufficient defenses against jet airplanes. A new weapon system, the Nike Missile, a surface-to-air missile (SAM) was developed to defend the skies. By the mid-1950s Nike Ajax Missiles were at Fort Tilden. The Nike Ajax was replaced in 1959, by the Nike Hercules which defended New York until 1974. The Army transfered Fort Tilden to the National Park Service's Gateway National Recreation Area.
Click here to learn more about Cold War Defenses and Nike Missiles.