Pentagonal Fortress ID
June 4, 2005 8:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to identify the pentagonal fortress in this image. All I know is that the picture was taken in 1930 (and published on postcards), and there's a baseball diamond in the center of the fort. I believe it to be in the US. My Google-fu is totally failing me! Can anyone place it?
posted by symbebekos to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
I think it's Fort Pitt, but I'm having trouble finding a photo to back that up.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:17 PM on June 4, 2005

PinkStainlessTail: I'm pretty sure you're right, but I'm going to wait until I have confirmation until I mark yours as the best answer. A million thanks!
posted by symbebekos at 9:51 PM on June 4, 2005

These are called star forts, because they're shaped like five-pointed stars. Pitt is just one of them. The fort in the original poster's picture is not a true star fort: the main shape is not a true pentagon, nor are the points symmetrical. It's also quite a lot larger than most forts, and it's seemingly surrounded by a moat. I believe it's Fort Monroe, Virginia, America's largest fort. (Googling for fort moat baseball field did the trick.)
posted by gentle at 10:22 PM on June 4, 2005

Umm..PST I wonder about that. It certainly looks similar to the plans that are around but the recently opened Fort Pitt museum seems to indicate that the 18 acres behind the museum building which made up the fort became part of Pittsburgh -- I didn't read right through the site (very slow loading on the exhibit page, btw) but I would have thought it unlikely to have been in existence for a maybe 1920's aerial shot?? The fort layout presumably would be quite widely followed/replicated. Sorry, I have no real suggestions by way of answer here - just got to looking around. caught in jrun terminus....I see gentle has done better.
posted by peacay at 10:24 PM on June 4, 2005

No, I don't think so, PST.

This fort has some unique characteristics. First, its size is very large compared to most earthwork forts. Second, it has a distinctive bastion (projection) along the near side in the photograph, which juts out like a bay window. Third, it seems to have been expanded or altered at the far right side, so it isn't strictly pentagonal. Fourth, it is in excellent -- maintained and possibly active -- condition for the period. Most of the colonial-era forts in the US were small, earthenwork jobs built for a single campaign that have not survived except in a rudimentary sense. The buildings outside the fort include a formal European-style park (or perhaps a parade ground) and numerous 19th-century structures which look American, including a swathe of obvious barracks in the upper right. There are also some very large administrative-type buildings inside the fort. Off on the left there are some larger structures including a towered building with some appearance of Federal Revival architecture. I believe this points to an American (or perhaps Canadian) fort.

(There are literally thousands of small forts built by the British and other colonial powers throughout the world which could have superficial similarity.)

Two of the more notable pentagonal harbor forts in the US, Fort Independence (Boston) and Fort Sumter (NC) are not comparable.

Dang, I was locked out making this comment, too -- good eyes, gentle. I offer the Google satellite image, and a fan site. Fort Monroe was built to protect Hampton Roads. The structures within are, today, the Training and Doctrine Command; Fort Monroe has been listed on the 2005 base closure list.
posted by dhartung at 10:37 PM on June 4, 2005

Wow, looks like they've built a freeway through Fort Pitt.
posted by teg at 10:41 PM on June 4, 2005

GoogleMap, looks like fort monroe.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:08 PM on June 4, 2005

In case you're wondering, the star-shaped design was pioneered by Vauban.
posted by jb at 9:04 AM on June 5, 2005

Fort Pitt was demolished in 1797 (here are some interesting newspaper articles from when remains were dug up in 1854). It boggles my mind that Pittsburgh has allowed the area to become a freeway instead of preserving and restoring it. No wonder the city's going to hell in a handbasket.
posted by languagehat at 9:44 AM on June 5, 2005

Wow, very nice b1tr0t!
posted by odinsdream at 9:57 AM on June 5, 2005

Embarrassingly enough, I grew up just outside of Pittsburgh and should've known at least some of this.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:26 AM on June 5, 2005

Gentle and b1trot nailed it. Definitely Fort Monroe. I used to ride-share home from college with someone who lived in one of the houses inside the star. Those houses inside the star (and outside) are going to fetch a pretty price when this base closes.
posted by Dick Paris at 11:51 AM on June 5, 2005

It's amazing how the beach has eroded into nothingness since the original photo.
posted by smackfu at 1:21 PM on June 7, 2005

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