From Fort George to the fields: The public space and military geography of revolutionary New York City

Document Type


Publication Date



History and Philosophy

Publication Title

Journal of Urban History


Drawing on the literature of public space and military geography, this article explores the martial and civilian places of New York City on the eve of the American Revolution. Whereas martial and civilian places were largely undistinguished in New York before 1750, the arrival of British troops and the repositioning of New York as the center of British military power in North America initiated a process whereby New Yorkers debated if these two should be separated. While military commanders and local officials attempted to protect private spaces like the home through a joint martial-civilian occupation of public spaces with the construction of barracks, the Sons of Liberty contested this use of space and sought to evict the British soldiers. Ultimately, the Battle of Golden Hill and other clashes between soldiers and civilians forced leaders to segregate the city’s places, thereby removing all military geography from the city.

Link to Published Version