A Look at Fort Lee Gateway to New York and New Jersey

Though it's famously said that all roads lead to Rome, the members of the Fort Lee, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce beg to differ. According to them, "There is an undisputed fact known throughout New Jersey: All roads lead to Fort Lee—The Gateway to New York and New Jersey."

The Borough of Fort Lee is located in Bergen County in northeastern New Jersey. Position yourself between Leonia and Palisades Park, and you'll find yourself on the banks of the Hudson River, one bridge (the George Washington, to be exact) away from New York City—and home to Fort Lee.

Fort Lee History 101

The first known residents of the area that eventually became known as Fort Lee were the Lenni Lenape Indians, who occupied the area's woodlands until 1609, when the British gained control of the area now known as New York and New Jersey.

The story of Fort Lee's origin as a township and later a borough is steeped in the drama and heroism of the Revolutionary War. In July of 1776, amidst the American Revolution and the penning of the Constitution, Fort Lee found its place in American history during the British campaign to capture New York City and the Hudson River. After the siege of Boston, General George Washington predicted that the British troops would soon turn their attention to New York City and the Hudson Valley. Along with the reinforcement of barricades at New York and Long Island, Washington suggested fortification along the Hudson. Washington visited the soon-to-be site of Fort Lee, and selected it as the spot from which the Hudson could best be protected. Barricades were built, and sunken ships were used as reinforcement.

The site, however, proved not to be the stronghold against the British that Washington had hoped; the fort was subsequently taken by British troops and evacuated by Washington and his Continental Army soldiers. The post itself, however, was patriotically renamed Fort Constitution for its historical importance, and months later renamed Fort Lee in honor of the Major General Charles Lee, the second in command of the Continental Army.

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