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Constitution Island

Constitution Island
Constitution Island, NY as seen looking east from Merritt Road, on West Point
Constitution Island is located in New York
Constitution Island
Location within New York
Nearest city Cold Spring, New York
Historical marker across the river at West Point

Constitution Island is located in the Hudson River, just south of Cold Spring (Putnam County) New York. The island was given to the United States of America in 1909, and since then has been administered by the United States Military Academy.


  • Chain 1
  • Warner House 2
  • See Also 3
  • Reference 4
  • External links 5


Known as Martelaer's Rock in colonial times, it was renamed Constitution Island in 1775. Continental forces fortified the island with artillery batteries and redoubts during the War of American Independence. The island is perhaps best known as the eastern anchor-point for the Great Chain, a massive iron structure that stretched across the narrow bend in the Hudson between the island and the mainland at West Point. The chain was intended to prevent British naval vessels from navigating freely along the Hudson. It remained in place (except during months when ice blocked the river) from 1778 to 1782. After the war, Constitution Island returned to civilian use.

Tadeusz Kościuszko along with Thomas Machin designed a capstan for reeling in the chain. Kosciuszko also added the Lanthorn Battery at Gee's Point and the Knox Battery to cover the South Dock. The original iron chain, with one and a half inches thick links, was replaced in 1778 with links two and a quarter inches thick, which were two feet long and weighed 140 pounds, Made by Peter Townsend of Sterling Ironworks, Warwick, the 1500 foot long chain weighed 186 tons. Kept afloat on huge logs, forty men removed the chain in winter.[1]:55,58

Warner House

The Warner House is a National Historic Landmark located on Constitution Island, administered by the United States Military Academy. The Warner family owned the island and lived in the house from 1838 to 1915. Sisters Susan Bogert Warner and Anna Bartlett Warner were popular, prolific novelists whose works sold millions of copies in the United States, England and elsewhere. The Warner sisters are recognized as among the most significant American women writers of the nineteenth century.

The Warner House and surrounding gardens are normally open to the public during the operational season. The Constitution Island Association, a not-for-profit organization, traditionally provided historic and cultural tours for visitors to the island and maintained the extensive gardens surrounding the Warner House. The Warner House is currently closed to visitors because the structure has become unstable, although the garden and grounds are open for visiting. The Military Academy has made improvements to the site including upgrades to the roadways, drainage, support facilities and trails. The West Point Association of Graduates has begun a capital campaign to raise funds to restore the historic structure and allow visitors inside the historic structure. Donations to this endeavor may be directed to:

For further West Point History visit:

See Also


  1. ^ Storozynski, A., 2009, The Peasant Prince, New York: St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9780312388027

External links

  • [1] West Point museum
  • Warner House information at the West Point web site
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