About This Lesson
This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration file "Fort Hancock and the Sandy Hook Proving Ground Historic District" (with photographs) and other military and historical sources. It was written by George West, former Park Ranger and Interpreter at the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. The lesson was edited by Fay Metcalf, education consultant, and the Teaching with Historic Places staff. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in U.S. history, social studies, and geography courses in units on American foreign policy around the turn of the 20th century or in courses on military history and technology.
Time period: Late 19th and early 20th centuries
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To trace the development of the U.S. coastal defense system and its connection to the country's foreign policy.
2) To understand the arguments favoring and opposing a large program building up coastal defenses.
3) To learn how the evolution of military technology affected this system of defense.
4) To recognize how military expenditures have affected their own community.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger, high-quality version.
1) one map of New York Harbor and surrounding region;
2) three readings on the history of the U.S. coastal defense system and the arguments over its maintenance;
3) one drawing of a battery at Fort Hancock;
4) four photos of some of the weapons emplaced at Fort Hancock.
Visiting the site
Located on the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey, Fort Hancock can be reached by taking the Garden State Parkway to Exit 117 (or US Route 9 and NJ Route 35 south). Follow Route 36 east for 12 miles to Sandy Hook. The Spermaceti Cove Visitor Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, contact the Superintendent, Gateway National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook Unit, P.O. Box 530, Fort Hancock, NJ 07732, or visit the park's Web site.