Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Northern Early America
The island got its name from the fact that every fort located here was always informally known as "The Castle."
Quickly appreciated for its strategic location for the protection of Boston from sea attack, the first fortification on Castle Island was an earthwork and three cannon ordered in 1634 by Governor Dudley of Massachusetts Bay Colony.
After the evacuating British destroyed the island's fortifications 1776, the fort was repaired by troops under the command of Lt. Paul Revere.
The present five pointed granite structure is the eighth fort to occupy this site and contains over 172,687 linear feet of hammered stone and was constructed under the direction of Colonel Sylvanus Thayer between 1834 and 1851.
Many people erroneously believe Fort Independence to be constructed with granite from nearby Quincy; however, with local stone being more costly, the project was instead carried out at considerable savings to taxpayers with granite hauled by boat from quarries on distant Cape Ann.
Using the name Perry, the nineteenth century American author Edgar Allan Poe served on Castle Island for five months in 1827 and is said to have based the story "The Cask of Amontillado" on an early Castle Island legend.
In 1818 Boston residents were thrown into a considerable panic by the reported sightings off Castle Island of large sea serpents.
After it was no longer needed for coastal defense, Castle Island was purchased by the MDC from the federal government in 1962 .
On October 15, 1970, Castle Island and Fort Independence were placed on the Register of National Historic Places.
Guided & Self-Guided Tour Information
We're delighted to share that Castle Island and Fort Independence are free of charge to access. The fantastic Castle Island Association provides sponsorship for free tours guided by knowledgeable volunteers. Typically these run throughout the high season (beginning Memorial Day weekend).
By car, from Interstate 93/Southeast Expressway, take the Columbia Road/UMass/JFK Library exit to the rotary adjacent to the Bayside Expo. Follow signs for Day Boulevard. Follow roadway east along the shore all the way to the end.
By public transportation, ride the following MBTA buses to the end of the line: City Point-Downtown via Northern Ave.; City Point-Downtown-Bayview; City Point-Copley Sq. via Broadway; and City Poin t-Copley Sq. via Andrew.
For more information, call MBTA Travel Information at 617-222-3200.
One of Boston's most popular public promenades, the twenty-two acres surrounding Fort Independence at Castle Island offer an amazing variety of magnificent views of the city. Along several miles of safe and beautifully maintained walkways, visitors enjoy an up-close experience with the excitement typical of Boston's marine culture, past and present.
The fort will be open for guided tours every weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day, from noon to 3:30 p.m. Thursday evenings throughout the season, come visit for Twilight Skyline Viewing from 7:00 p.m. until dusk.
The Thursday evening tour series presents exceptional photo opportunities for the Boston city skyline and harbor throughout the summer months. All openings weather permitting.
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