The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is located in Brooklyn’s historic Fort Greene Park. It honours the memory of more than 11,500 prisoners of war who perished on prison ships during the Revolutionary War. A small fraction of their remains are interned in a crypt beneath the base of the monument.
These men and women were held captive by the British on eleven ships that were anchored in the East River during the Battle of Long Island. The horrific conditions aboard the ships led to their deaths and their bodies were buried in haste along the shore.
In 1808 the remains of the prison ship martyrs were moved to a tomb near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In 1873, they were re-interred in a small monument until a campaign began in the late 19th century for a larger and permanent monument. Designed by the legendary New York architect firm McKim, Meade & White, the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument was dedicated in 1908 by President William Howard Taft.
It is an impressive sight soaring high at the center of Fort Greene Park. A majestic 100-foot-wide granite staircase leads up to the monument, which features a central Doric column that rises 149 feet in height- just a couple of feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty.