Fort Lee Historic Park, NJ
Historic Site Information
Fort Lee Historic Park is set on 33 landscaped acres atop the Palisades just south of the George Washington Bridge, with spectacular overlooks of the Hudson, Manhattan, and the George Washington Bridge. There are a Visitor Center and Museum, reconstructed 18th Century soldier hut and campsite, and reconstructed gun batteries.

Fort Lee Historic Park's significance came about during the 1776 British campaign to control New York City and the Hudson River. In July of 1776, work was begun on this site, which was eventually named for General Charles Lee, who aided in the defense of New York City. On the opposite New York shore, work had already begun on Fort Washington.

On July 12, Admiral Richard Howe sent two British naval vessels up the Hudson River. Cannon fire from Fort Washington had little effect on their passage. Washington then ordered that work on Fort Lee continue as quickly possible. On August 22, the British landed on Long Island and five days later forced the Americans to retreat to New York City. Through September and October, the British and American forces were involved in battles at New York City, Harlem Heights, and White Plains. The British then turned their forces against Fort Washington. On November 16, Fort Washington fell to an overwhelming assault by the British forces, who captured over 2,000 American troops.

General Washington, realizing that with the loss of Fort Washington, that Fort Lee was of little military value, made preparations to evacuate his remaining army through New Jersey. On November 20, General Cornwallis ferried about 5,000 men across the Hudson north of Fort Lee. When word reached Washington, he ordered an immediate retreat before his army was cut off and captured by the British. Most of the American supplies and artillery had to be left behind. These were indeed the darkest days for the Revolution and led to Thomas Paine's famous words, "These are the times that try men's souls…"

Fort Lee has been named as a significant stop on the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Revolutionary War trail.

Park grounds are open 8 am to dusk. The Visitor Center is open Wednesday–Sunday, 10 am–4:45 pm. For more information, please telephone (201) 461-1776.
Things To Do & See
Visitor's Center
Officer Huts
Retreat to Victory Weekend
"Living History" for Schools
The Visitor Center is open Weds.–Sun., 10 AM–4:45 PM, with exhibits, gift shop, multi-media auditorium, restrooms, beverage vending machine, and a water fountain. It is closed on holidays except Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
In the southern portion of the Historic Park, winding pathways lead past a reconstructed blockhouse to gun batteries and firing steps. Opposite the barbette battery, authentically recreated eighteenth-century soldiers’ and officers’ huts, with a well, woodshed, and baking oven, serve as the focal point for interpretive programs.
This commemoration of the 1776 British invasion of New Jersey and the beginning of the Continental Army’s strategic “Retreat to Victory” is held each year at Fort Lee Historic Park on the weekend closest to the historic date of November 20. It includes reenactments of eighteenth-century life and weapon and battle demonstrations. Admission is free (parking fee is in effect).
From September through December and March through June, school classes in grades five and up who are studying the American Revolution can experience what life was like for eighteenth-century soldier–recruits in George Washington’s Continental Army. Classes come to Fort Lee Historic Park for a 5-½-hour “living history” program that combines discussion, demonstration, and hands-on participation to give students a complete learning experience. Call for details: 201 461-1776
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