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Davids' Island (New York)

Davids' Island (New York)

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Davids' Island is a 78 acres (315,655.1 m²) island off the coast of New Rochelle, New York
New Rochelle, New York
New Rochelle is a city in Westchester County, New York, United States, in the southeastern portion of the state.The town was settled by refugee Huguenots in 1688 who were fleeing persecution in France...

, in Long Island Sound
Long Island Sound
Long Island Sound is an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, located in the United States between Connecticut to the north and Long Island, New York to the south. The mouth of the Connecticut River at Old Saybrook, Connecticut, empties into the sound. On its western end the sound is bounded by the Bronx...

. Currently uninhabited, in the past it was the site of Fort Slocum
Fort Slocum (New York)
Fort Slocum, New York was a US military base occupying Davids' Island and Hart Island at the western end of Long Island Sound. The fort was named for Major General Henry W...

. Plans are to preserve the island as public parkland under the Westchester County Parks system. The island is home to the endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle
Turtle
Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines , characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield...

, and rare birds such as osprey
Osprey
The Osprey , sometimes known as the sea hawk or fish eagle, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than in length and across the wings...

 and least terns. Davids' Island also supports valuable wetlands, rare rocky intertidal areas, and sandy beaches. The waters surrounding the Island are home to winter flounder, Atlantic herring
Atlantic herring
Atlantic herring is a fish in the family Clupeidae. It is one of the most abundant fish species on earth. Herring can be found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, congregating in large schools. They can grow up to in length and weigh more than...

, and Atlantic silverside
Atlantic silverside
The Atlantic silverside, Menidia menidia, is one of the most common fish in the Chesapeake Bay and in the Barnegat Bay. It is a common subject of scientific research because has a sensitivity to environmental changes....

.

History of the name


The name is often given as David Hawk's or David Hawk, but neither is correct. The island is named after its next-to-last civilian owner before the Army acquired it; New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 ink manufacturer and Westchester County resident Thaddeus Davids. It was first leased (1861-1867), then owned (1867-1965), by the U.S. Government, and was known as Davids' Island Military Reservation until it was named Fort Slocum on July 1st, 1896. Previously it had been named after other owners, and was called successively: Bouteillier's, Rodman's, Myer's, Treadwell's, Hewlett's, Allen's, and Morse's Island.

Uses of the island


The island was rented by the U.S. Government in April, 1862, and was used for hospital purposes. Wooden structures were erected to house thousands of wounded prisoners from the battlefields of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. A ferry connection was established from Neptune Island
Neptune Island (Long Island Sound)
Neptune Island was an island in Long Island Sound and part of the City of New Rochelle, New York. It is now connected to the mainland. In the early 19th century it was called "Moses Island," with the name changed to Neptune later that century. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the US...

, under the control of Simeon Leland. At the end of the war, Congress authorized the island's purchase for military purposes and it was conveyed to the United States in 1867. From this date, the Federal government had operated its own ferry
Ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

 to and from Neptune Island. It was used until 1878 as a sub-depot for the recruiting service, and, in that year, it became the general recruiting depot. It was later converted to a coastal artillery defense post and was given the name Fort Slocum after Major General Henry W. Slocum, U.S. Volunteers. In 1921, the battery included 4 12 inches (304.8 mm) mortars, 4 3 inches (76.2 mm) pedestal guns, and 2 3 inches (76.2 mm) anti-aircraft guns. During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 the island became one of the busiest recruiting stations in the country, processing 100,000 soldiers per year. The famous "Sound off, one, two" military cadence
Military cadence
In the armed services, a military cadence or cadence call is a traditional call-and-response work song sung by military personnel while running or marching...

 was invented at Fort Slocum in 1944. From 1946 to 1949, Fort Slocum housed Headquarters First Air Force. It was renamed "Slocum Air Force Base" in June 1949; this only lasted for a year before being turned back into an Army post in June 1950. From 1951 to 1962, Fort Slocum (Davids' Island) was the home of the U.S. Army Chaplain
Chaplain
Traditionally, a chaplain is a minister in a specialized setting such as a priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam or lay representative of a religion attached to a secular institution such as a hospital, prison, military unit, police department, university, or private chapel...

 School and the US Army Information School.

From 1955 to 1960, Fort Slocum housed Nike Ajax air-defense battery NY-15. The missiles were stored in underground silos on Hart Island with the radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 and control base on Davids' Island. In July 1960, after only five years of operation, Nike Battery NY-15 was closed. From 1956 to 1965, Fort Slocum was the site of the U.S. Army Information School, where Army soldiers and Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 airmen were trained in journalism, public affairs, and photography. In 1965, the information school was moved to Fort Benjamin Harrison
Fort Benjamin Harrison
Fort Benjamin Harrison was a U.S. Army post located in suburban Lawrence, Indiana, northeast of Indianapolis. It is named for the 23rd United States President, Benjamin Harrison. Land was purchased in 1903, with the post being officially named for President Harrison in honor of Indianapolis being...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 and Fort Slocum was deactivated.

At one point the island was owned by Con Edison, which had plans to build a nuclear power plant on it. After those plans fell through in the late 1960s, it was used as a children's summer camp, named "July O Rama," for inner-city children during summers. The island was sold to the city of New Rochelle in 1967.

During the summer of 2008, the city of New Rochelle demolished all remaining structures on the island, including the iconic water tower on the northern end of the island, with plans to turn the island into a park.

Gallery



See also

  • Hart Island, New York
    Hart Island, New York
    Hart Island, sometimes referred to as Hart's Island, is a small island in New York City at the western end of Long Island Sound. It is approximately a mile long and one quarter of a mile wide and is located to the northeast of City Island in the Pelham Islands group...

  • List of Civil War POW Prisons and Camps

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