At the present time, Fort Independence Park represents the only public green space that is directly adjacent to the Jerome Park Reservoir in Van Cortlandt Village in the Bronx, running along Sedgwick Avenue between Gouverneur Avenue and West 238th Street. There’s an original gatehouse here and sticking your nose through one of the holes in the iron door produced a chlorine smell — one of the few evidences of water at the reservoir in 2009.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, General George Washington ordered the construction of outer defenses throughout the Kingsbridge area. Fort Independence was built under the direction of Colonel Rufus Putnam in 1776 to protect the American army and to safeguard the line of the Harlem River. An entrenchment ten feet wide and three and a half feet deep surrounded the austere fort. From its elevated position, the site commanded an extensive prospect of the surrounding countryside. In the fall of 1779, the fort was destroyed by British forces led by Sir Henry Clinton.
NYC acquired the land by condemnation in 1895 and this became a NYC park in 1915, the same year cannonballs from the old fort were unearthed. The park acquired its name with this circumstance.