It has 500 years of history — going back to the 1520s when Giovanni da Verrazzano became the first European to explore our “Jersey Shore.” In November 1790, the New Jersey Legislature gave jurisdiction of the lighthouse at Sandy Hook (and most of the surrounding area) to the federal government.
To me it will always be Sandy Hook, but others know it as Fort Hancock (the US Army and historians) or the Gateway National Recreation Area (the National Park Service and 2 million summer visitors).
I have found that its natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere can cure almost any case of the blues. Have a look at these Sandy Hook images and then go see for yourself. I’m always searching for more Sandy Hook-related photos. If you have anything interesting to share please contact me HERE.
Fort Hancocok “No Trespassing — A great deal of the activities at the US Army base were top secret and highly classified.
Sandy Hook entrance, 2020 (Thomas Minton Photo). Our national park at the beach — is officially Gateway National Recreation Area.
Fort Hancock Trestle Guardhouse, 1911 (Thomas Smedley Photo).
Sandy Hook Proving Grounds entrance, 1911. Ordinance operations were ultimately moved to Aberdeen, Maryland.
Fort Hancock front gate entrance, 1940s. The fort was decommissioned in 1974.
Old Fort Hancock entrance gate, 1950s. Started as the “Fort at Sandy Hook” in 1857, it was never completed. Unofficially it was called “Fort Lincoln” and “Fort Hudson” by the locals — before officially becoming Fort Hancock in 1895.
On a clear day … NYC skyline seen from Sandy Hook, June 2022 (Randall Tomes Photo).
Sandy Hook aerial image, 2022.
Fort Hancock Guard House on Sandy Hook, April 1913. Built in 1899.
Fort Hancock Officer’s Club (or “Brick House”) on Sandy Hook, 1913. Built in 1879.
Fort Hancock PX (Post Exchange) on Sandy Hook, 1940. Built in 1905.
Sandy Hook State Park postcard, 1970s.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse painting, 1980s.
Atlantic horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) on Sandy Hook, June 2022. These odd marine arthropods have been around for 450 million years.
Morning on Sandy Hook, June 2022.
US Army troops drill at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, 1940s.
Post Hospital at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, 1940s. Built in 1898; burned in 1985.
Dawn from Sandy Hook, May 2022.
Sandy to City …, May 2022 (Russ Meseroll Photo).
The Line-Up — Officer’s Row along Sandy Hook Bay, May 2002 (Miguel Lasteros Photo).
View from the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, 1953. The US Army official decommissioned Fort Hancock in December 1974.
A spring morning on Sandy Hook, April 2022 (Geri Gray Photo).
Sandy Hook aerial image, 2018 (Gary Slawsky Photo).
Sandy Hook postcard, 1987.
Sandy Hook, NJ postcard, 1966. When Richard Hartshorne first acquired Sandy Hook in 1692 it was just 200 acres; it’s grown to over 2,000 acres now.
Movie star Lana Turner (l) during a good-will tour of Fort Hancock with the post CO Brigadier General Phillip Gage (r), November 1941 (Bernard Duze Photo).
Sandy Hook Lighthouse at dusk, Spring 2022.
Sandy Hook, 2000s. Henry Hudson, a British explorer working for the Dutch, first anchored his ship the Half-Moon in Sandy Hook Bay In September 1609.
Sandy Hook seen from Twin Lights, 1908.
Sea Gulls’ Nest on Sandy Hook. The popular restaurant and bar was closed after Superstorm Sandy damage in October 2012 and torn down in 2019.
The Sea Gulls’ Nest was opened in 1996. It was run by Newark-native and WW II vet Ed Segall, who had been operating a Sandy Hook concession business since 1962.
Sea Gulls’ Nest under demolition, May 2019 (R.C. Moore Photo).
St. Patrick Day dance celebration in the Fort Hancock gym, March 1944.
Fort Hancock Baseball Team, 1941.
Fort Hancock, NJ., 1930s. Amidst “Officer’s Row” you’ll see two lighthouses in the image. At left is the granddaddy of them all, the “Sandy Hook Lighthouse” (still operating and America’s oldest). In the center is “Little Red Lighthouse.” Built in 1880, it reached 40-feet-high; it was removed in 1917.
Old US Coast Guard Station on Sandy Hook, 2022 (Geri Gray Photo).
Sandy Hook State Park, NJ postcard, 1962.
“Hook Look,” March 2022 (Sharon Welsh Folk Photo).
Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Spring 2022. Opened in June 1764, it’s the oldest in the USA.
Fort Hancock Officer’s Row house, March 2022. One of 18 buff-brick US Army officer’s quarters built along Hartshorne Drive from 1898-1899. After first scouting the area in 1896, Captain Arthur Murray was later credited for the overall layout and architectural design.
“Main Lighthouse, Sandy Hook: Southwest View” by Franklin Patterson, 1879. The artist’s brother Charles was the lighthouse keeper. MCHA eMuseum.
The Total Picture — Sandy Hook, 2000s.
On a clear day … the view from Sandy Hook to NYC, March 2020.
SS Sandy Hook, 1930s. The steamship was built in 1889 by the Central RR of New Jersey for passenger service between New York City and the Jersey Shore. After a fire in 1931, it was rebuilt and returned to service. It was sold for $35,000 in scrap in September 1951.
SS Sandy Hook, 1920s. According to a June 1946 Long Branch Daily Record story about its end of service, the vessel transported over 15 million passengers (and at least two US Presidents) from 1889 to 1941. With a capacity of 2,000, it was considered New York Harbor’s fastest and finest steamer — “a glamour girl.” The 270-foot-long boat — with ballroom and dining salon — cost $235,000 to build.
A grand view of Sandy Hook Bay, 2021 (John Schneider Photo). Below is the bayshore Borough of Highlands — incorporated in 1900, it has about 5,000 residents.
Sandy Hook sunrise, March 2022. The long pier is from US Naval Weapons Station Earle. Construction began in August 1943 and it’s still active. Basically, it’s a safe-distance munitions loading depot for any US Navy ship. Considered one of the world’s longest “finger piers” — it reaches out into Sandy Hook Bay for 2.2 miles.
Sandy Hook aerial image, 2022.
Battery + Park — An old gun battery on Sandy Hook now used for summer beach parking, 2021.
“Confidential” aerial photo of Fort Hancock as it readied for a world war, September 1940 (John Schneider Photo).
President Franklin Roosevelt arrives at Fort Hancock having disembarked from the USS Lang, August 1939. From Sandy Hook a motorcade took FDR to the Red Bank train station and on to Washington, DC. He’d been on a fishing trip in Canada. Despite the happy greeting, legend is the president was shaken upon arrival after learning of the infamous Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact — sometimes called “the kick-off to World War II.” (Beth Anne Duze Woolley Photo).
The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge seen from Sandy Hook, 2022. When the span opened in 1964 the toll was 50 cents; today it’s $17.
Old Fort Hancock School, 2022. It had been the old fort chem lab (Geri Gray Photo).
Remains of the original five-sided granite “Fort at Sandy Hook,” begun in the 1857. Robert E. Lee — when a captain with the US Army Corps of Engineers — did the fort’s initial design in 1850.
Thomas Gordon map of New Jersey, 1828.
Sandy Hook and Lower New York Bay. The Gateway National Recreation Area — spanning 27,000 acres including parts of New Jersey and New York City – is the gateway from the ocean into New York Harbor. Besides the Sandy Hook Unit is the Staten Island Unit (with Fort Wadsworth, Miller Field, and Great Kills Park) and the Jamaica Bay Unit (with Floyd Bennett Field, Shirley Chisholm State Park, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Canarsie Pier, Breezy Point, Fort Tilden and Jacob Riis Park). Created in October 1972, more than 9 million visitors come to this urban oasis annually.
Sandy Hook State Park Authority sketch proposal for a new main bathhouse and restaurant, Long Branch Daily Record, July 1951.
Old Fort Hancock Officer’s Club, 2020.
A glorious winter sunset over Sandy Hook Bay, 2020 (Maureen Barrett Fecci Photo).
Sandy Hook Lighthouse in fall splendor, 2009. The keeper’s house (l) was added in 1883.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse, 1937. Over 250 years old, the octagonal tower “outlasted all its contemporaries to become the oldest standing and operating lighthouse in the United States,” according to the National Park Service. In 1995, the US Coast Guard gave ownership of the lighthouse to the NPS.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse, 2006. It stands 103-feet high, is made of stone, and is visible from 19 miles at sea. According to the NPS, the wealthy NYC merchants who financed the lighthouse construction, paid brothers Robert and Esek Hartshorne 750 pounds for the land in May 1762.
US Army Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, for whom the post was named in October 1895. Gen. Hancock served heroically during the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg and was the 1880 Democratic candidate for US President. He lost to James Garfield by just 10,000 votes out more than 9.2 million cast; but he did carry New Jersey.
The dashing General Winfield Scott Hancock, June 1864. He died in February 1886.
Fort Hancock Post on Sandy Hook, NJ, 1930s.
Battery Potter decaying iron entry gate at old Fort Hancock, March 2022. (Wayne Londregan Photo). The nation’s first disappearing gun battery on Sandy Hook was powered by a steam hydraulic-lift system. Construction began in 1890 and the gun was considered obsolete upon its finish in 1894. It was named in honor of Brigadier General Joseph H. Potter in March 1903.
Sandy Hook postcard, 1970s.
Fort Hancock US Army barracks built for World War II mobilization, 1940s.
Sandy Hook peninsula and the Monmouth bayshore, 1972.
Nike Hercules missiles at Fort Hancock in firing position, 1960s. Fort Hancock’s battery of guided-missiles could reach speeds of 1,700 mph in under 4 seconds while carrying a 20-kiloton Nuclear warhead. “Nike” was the Greek Goddess of victory. Douglas Aircraft designed the rockets: the Ajax and Hercules.
NIKE Missile historic display on Sandy Hook, 2021. When Installation was complete in July 1955, the fort had an operational anti-aircraft missile system. All top-secret, guarded 24/7 by dogs. Project Nike had been developed at Bell Labs in 1945. A 700-troop anti-aircraft battalion was included.
Sandy Hook area — a lot to protect in a 1950s world. The Army thought a Sandy Hook rocket base the ideal spot to guard the New York metro area. When installed in 1957, the Nike Hercules missile could hit a hostile aircraft from up to 75 miles. The supersonic weapon destroyed targets through use of an “electronic brain” and “radar eye.”
Nike Launch Area at Fort Hancock, 1959 (NPS Photo). The development of the Soviet ICBM doomed Project NIKE — by the late 1960s, deep cuts were underway for the air defense system. It was all deactivated in 1974. At Cold War heights, in 1962 more than 200 Nike sites surrounded America’s most important strategic cities defending against Communist aggression. These “Rings of Supersonic Steel” — a 2010 book calls them — were part of the US Army Air Defense Command. The Fort Hancock Nike Association hopes to rebuild these memories — HERE
Sandy Hook. French map, 1778.
Sandy Hook. USGS map, 1908.
Old US Life-Saving Service Station on Sandy Hook, 2021. First opened in 1894, it later served as the National Park Service visitor’s center before 2012 Superstorm Sandy damage.
Old US Life-Saving Service station at Sandy Hook, 1910.
Post Hospital at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, 1950s. Designed by Stanford White in 1899, the building later became the Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory building. It burned in 1985.
Rough surf off Sandy Hook, November 2021.
“Battery Gunison” at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook postcard. In the background is the NYC skyline.
Coastal defense gun battery at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, early 1900s.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse keeps watch on Officer’s Row, 2021. For 75 years, Fort Hancock served as the primary defense for New York City — then America’s largest metro area and top port.
Long Line — Fort Hancock Officer’s Row, 2021. Beginning in 1896, a total of 18 buff brick officer’s quarters were built along Sandy Hook Bay. Many still stand today although largely neglected.
Post Hospital at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, 1940s.
US Army troops at their Fort Hancock barracks, 1940. First garrisoned in March 1898, the fort was decommissioned in 1974.
Officer’s Row houses on Sandy Hook, 2021.
Officer’s Row in winter, 2010s. The last official solider to leave Sandy Hook was in May 1953.
Officer’s Row houses in decline, 2021.
Old Sandy Hook lifeguard’s barracks, 2020.
Past & Present — Fort Hancock Radio Station building.
Post Chapel at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, 1941. Opened in December 1941. Brig. Gen. Philip S. Gage (he roomed with George Patton at West Point) opened the new army house of worship. According to his 1982 New York Times obit, emphasizing the fort’s strategic importance, Gen. Gage said: ”We are the gatekeepers of America’s front door.”
Fort Hancock Chapel on Sandy Hook, 2021 (Matthew Aberle Photo).
Reflections — at Sandy Hook Chapel, April 2022 (Kimberly Johnson Photo).
Sandy Hook Chapel (r) near the Rodman Gun (l), 1960s.
One more — Sandy Hook Chapel, May 2022 (Dorene Pen Knee).
Old US Coast Guard Station on Sandy Hook, from 1936.
US Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook, 1930s.
Fort Hancock Chapel, 1940s.
Fort Hancock Chapel on Sandy Hook, 1950s. The steeple was removed in 1975.
The old chapel is now just an all-purpose auditorium, 2022.
Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, 1930s. In 1937, the fort became a test spot for the Signal Corps — leading the way to radar development.
Fort Hancock filling station, built in 1936.
An Osprey sits atop an old Sandy Hook building, 2021.
A breezy Fall afternoon on Sandy Hook, November 2021.
Gateway National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook Unit, 1980s.
Blacksmith’s Shop at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, 1909.
Sandy Hook State Park postcard, 1960s.
Movie star Lana Turner visits Fort Hancock soldiers on Sandy Hook, November 1941. A popular model and film actress, she died in 1995.
Fort Hancock coastal defense gun — “largest in the world,” 1909. Its target range was 20 miles.
Post Hospital at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, early 1900s.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse, 1960s. The Eastpointe high-rise condo in Highlands is in the background.
Mortar Battery at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, 1909.
YMCA building at Fort Hancock, 1907.
Guard House at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, 1909.
Western Union and Postal Telegraph Towers on Sandy Hook, 1919.
Battalion formation at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, 1907.
Fort Hancock Ordnance Barracks, 1915.
US Weather Bureau and US Coast Guard Station on Sandy Hook, 1931.
Surfing with a view on Sandy Hook, August 2021.
Sandy Hook looking south to Highlands and Sea Bright, 1910s (John Schneider Photo).
“New fort near Sandy Hook, at the entrance to the Bay of New York.” 1865 (N.Y. Public Library Photo).
“After the Equinotial, off Sandy Hook.” Painting by Francis A. Silva, 1879.
Rodman Gun at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook, 1970s. The post chapel is in the background. The gun was developed by General Thomas Rodman for use in the Civil War. It was 115,00 pounds with a 20-inch muzzle.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse (r) in operation at night, August 2021 (Eric Thacke Photo). It’s the nation’s oldest operating lighthouse.
Another great “Hook Look,” July 2021 (Dustin Mathews Photo).
View from Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook, Summer 2021. Sandy Hook is in foreground; NYC in background. At 266-feet above sea level, Mt. Mitchill is the highest natural point on North America’s eastern seaboard.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse and the One World Trade Center in NYC, 2021 (Buddy Smith Photo).
McFly’s on the Hook, July 2021. Sandy Hook’s new convenience spot — offering an unusual array of food, snacks, beverages, and ice cream. Located in Building #53 near the historic lighthouse. MORE INFO.
Sandy Hook Lady, built in 1991. The 65-foot, paddle-wheel boat held 125 passengers and offered cruises on the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers. The boat owners were charged with dumping raw sewage into the bay in 1996.
The NYC skyline seen from Sandy Hook, 2021.
Sandy Hook State Park, NJ. The spot became a state park in 1962.
Sandy Hook looking south to Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge, 1960.
Battery Potter entrance at Fort Hancock, 1912. When completed in 1890, it was the first disappearing gun battery in the nation. By 1907, it was obsolete.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse, 1913. It was the fifth lighthouse ever built in the American colonies in 1764. Then it was known as the New York Lighthouse.
Twin Lights watches over Sandy Hook and Highlands.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse painted in camouflage for World War II, 1942.
Moon glow over the Hook, July 2021 (Ron Iacobucci Photo).
Video History of Sandy Hook, NJ by John Schneider — HERE
Seastreak Ferry passengers disembark at Sandy Hook docks, 2021.
Old US Life-Saving Station on Sandy Hook, opened in 1894. The building later was used as the National Park visitor’s center before Superstorm Sandy damage closed it in 2012.
Old Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory, 1961. The building was taken by arson in September 1985 and later replaced by the James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory.
Old Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory building, 1969. Dr. Lionel A. Walford was the the lab’s first director. Designed by Stanford White in 1899, the building had been the post hospital.
Old Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory building in ruins after fire, September 1985. The lab and years of scientific research were destroyed by arson.
Sandy Hook: Let It Be — HERE
New James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory nearing completion, 1992. The 35,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art marine research facility opened in October 1993 at a cost of $19 million. Congressman Howard served the area in the US House of Representatives for nearly 25 years; he died in 1988.
Fort Hancock post hospital. Built in 1898, it had 50 beds. It burned in 1985.
The tip of Sandy Hook, 2021 (John Schneider Photo).
The tip of Sandy Hook, 1916 (John Schneider Photo).
Fort Hancock Officer’s Club, 1900. First opened in June 1879.
Fort Hancock Officer’s Club, 1922.
Fort Hancock Officer’s Club left to decay, June 2021.
Fort Hancock Post Headquarters, built in the late 1890s.
Fort Hancock Commanding Officer’s House, built in 1899. The US Army reached max at Sandy Hook during early World War II times when about 8,000 personnel military and civilian were stationed there.
Deer grazing at dusk on the Hook, June 2021 (Dennis T. O’Leary Jr.).
Fort Hancock housing, early 1900s.
Sandy Hook aerial image, 2020. The land is in Middletown Twp.
Sandy Hook area map, 1886.
Fort Hancock Post Exchange (PX). Opened in 1941, it was the military base shopping center.
US Army soldiers outside their barracks at Fort Hancock, 1920s.
Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge seen from Sandy Hook, 2020. It’s 8 miles from the end of the hook to the bridge. The double-decked, 13-lane bridge opened in November 1964. Othmar Ammann was the designer. The 4,260-foot-long span connects the NYC boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn.
Sandy Hook Bay, 2020 (Stansphotos.com).
MAST’s new naval science buildings under construction/repair on Sandy Hook, June 2021. The Marine Academy of Science and Technology is part of the excellent Monmouth County Vocational School District. Opened in 1981 — it’s high school education at its finest. And too many county families are unaware of their free high caliber offerings. For more info.
Old US Life-Saving Station at Sandy Hook, 2006. The nation’s first life-saving station was built on Sandy Hook in 1848.
US Life-Saving Station at Sandy Hook under repair, June 2021. The 1894 building also served at the park’s Visitor’s Center until damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse, 2021. The nation’s oldest working lighthouse was first lit in June 1764 — with oil lamp and glass reflectors.
Fort Hancock, 1930s. Military construction on Sandy Hook dates to 1857.
Fort Hancock Parade Grounds, early 1900s.
Hook Look — grand view of the NYC skyline, 2021 (MJ Connelly Photo).
Fort Hancock coastal defense gun — “biggest in the world,” 1903. Weight: 284,000 pounds. The M1895, 16-inch weapon had a firing range of 12 miles.
Fort Hancock Stable, built in 1899. It was called the “Mule Barn.”
“Sergent’s Row” at Fort Hancock. Housing for non-commissioned officers with families stationed on Sandy Hook.
Fort Hancock Post Guardhouse and Jail, built in 1899. Today, it houses the Fort Hancock Museum.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse, 1790. NYC stonemason Isaac Conro designed the structure.
National Park Service headquarters at Sandy Hook.
“On Sandy Hook” sketch, 1880.
Fire House No. 1 at Fort Hancock, 1940. The first of two firehouses built on the post opened in 1905.
Sunset on Sandy Hook, 2021.
Sandy Hook, 2020. Its geographic landform is known as a “barrier spit.”
Sandy Hook, 1962.
Sandy Hook steamer, 1932. “The swift way across the bay.”
“Sandy Hook Steamer Trips” schedule, 1937.
Sandy Hook “Flyer,” 1930s.
Train going to Sandy Hook, 1950s.
Fort Hancock Bachelors Officer’s Quarters, built in 1898.
Old Fort Hancock Dental Clinic.
US Army/Navy YMCA at Fort Hancock, 1915. William Forbes was the longtime YMCA director.
Sandy Hook coast and Officer’s Row, 2020.
Remains of the original five-sided granite fort at Sandy Hook, begun in the 1859. Robert E. Lee — when a captain with the US Army Corps of Engineers — did the fort’s initial design in 1850.
Sandy Hook and Highlands-SB Bridge, 2020. Millions of people come to the national park to sun, swim, surf, boat, exercise, fish, and just relax.
Sandy Hook, 2020. The peninsula is about 2,045 acres.
Sandy Hook satellite image, 1970s. The land is owned by the federal government and managed by the National Park Service as the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Sandy Hook’s first vacation rental is a historic home along Officer’s Row at Fort Hancock — MORE INFO
Sandy Hook, 2017. The area was given National Historic Landmark status in December 1982.
Sandy Hook, 2000s. It opened as a state park in July 1962.
Sandy Hook map, 1777.
Battery Mortar entrance on Sandy Hook, 2021.
Battery Fremont Peck on Sandy Hook, 2021.
Fort Hancock gun battery. The area was an ordinance proving ground from 1874 to 1919.
Battery Proof at the Sandy Hook Proving Ground, 1902. The range was 3,000 yards.
Gun Park at the Sandy Hook Proving Ground, early 1900s.
Battery Granger and gun crew, 1910. Built in 1897, its 10-inch gun could hit targets 8 miles out to sea.
Battery Potter entrance, 2010. Named in honor of General Joseph Potter, who served gallantly in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Sandy Hook aerial image, 2000s.
• Historic Resource Study (1990): Gateway: Fort Hancock/1895-1948 — HERE
• Fort Hancock Walking Tour — HERE
• Sandy Hook Foundation — HERE