At one time, this was one of the most highly classified, top secret locations in the United States, a Nike missile base called Fort Hancock. It operated from 1954 up until Fort Hancock closed in 1974, at which time the missiles were moved to a site out west. In 1954 Fort Hancock became home to Nike Site NY-56, one of a series of Nike missile sites that formed a circle around New York City. Nike Site NY-56 included the missile Launcher Area (LA) and the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) radar site where the Nike missiles were controlled and guided from.
By the 1970s however, the Nikes were rendered obsolete. The advent of the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile gave way to a new form of terror; a Soviet nuclear attack that didn’t require aircraft. With the ongoing war in Vietnam consuming the bulk of defense expenditure, the Nike program was shelved in 1974s Strategic Arms Limitation Talks agreement. The remnants of the base are on 20 acres of land in the Sandy Hook Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The base, a carefully guarded part of Fort Hancock until the mid-1970s, had since been stripped, used for storage and Park vehicle maintenance, and overgrown with dune-friendly poison ivy.