Sketch of Proposed Fortifications, 1814

A watercolor from the summer of 1814, right after the British shelled Stonington, Connecticut, and the New Yorkers suddenly realized an invasion might come via Long Island Sound. This rough watercolor drawing shows how fortifications might be set up along the old Post Road.

We are looking north-northeast. On the right is an approximation of what would become Fort Clinton (to the east of present East Drive in Central Park, though really it should be slightly farther to the east and north). Down in the distance we see a preliminary idea of the southernmost fortification at Nutter’s Battery.

McGowan's Pass, looking north, with proposed fortifications, 1814.

This was probably drawn by James Renwick, Sr., father of the architect of the gothic battlements of the Smithsonian Institution as well as Grace Episcopal Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and many other notable public buildings.

Renwick was conceiving it at sunset, no doubt, with a lot of red light, and late-summer shadows pointing away from the west. They should probably be pointing to the two- or three-o’clock, rather than the four-o’clock, position. But this is a plan and an “artist’s conception,” not an observation.

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