Place

Georges Island

Black sign welcoming visitors to Georges Island. Fort seen in the background.
Georges Island, home to Fort Warren.

BHN/B. Knotts

Quick Facts

Georges Island is owned and operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Located seven miles from downtown Boston, this 39-acre island is home to Fort Warren, a National Historic Landmark.

Georges Island provided a strategic location for defending the port of Boston. The French first fortified the island in support of the American Revolution with cannons placed upon the hill overlooking the harbor entrance. The U.S. Government began constructing Fort Warren in 1834 as part of an improved system of U.S. Coastal fortifications after the War of 1812. The fort was named for Dr. Joseph Warren, Major General of the Massachusetts Militia and a casualty at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Used as a training camp in 1861, in 1862 it became a prison for Confederate soldiers, sailors, and political leaders during the American Civil War. Further modifications were made to the fort in the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. After the military decommissioned the fort in 1950, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts purchased the island and opened it to the public in 1961.

Construction of the fort reshaped the island’s original drumlin landform. Shade and fruit trees were planted over the years, and staghorn sumac and wildflowers spread naturally. Today, red-winged blackbirds and swallows inhabit the island year-round, while owls, hawks, and shore birds occasionally visit during their annual migrations.

Overlooking Boston’s two historic shipping channels, Nantasket Roads and The Narrows, Georges Island is strategically located in Boston Harbor. Due to the shallow depths and narrow channels of the harbor, all ships entering Boston were guided by Boston Light and forced to pass by Georges Island. Not only is the island situated in a strategic location, but its size and shape allowed for the construction of the large star-shaped Fort Warren, which was built in the 19th century to protect Boston from attack by enemy ships.

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

Last updated: July 1, 2021