In the 1950s, the site now known as Riker Hill Art Park was used as a United States Army Nike Missile Tracking Base. Its location, the highest elevation in the county, offered the perfect clear line defense against anyone attempting to target the New York Metro area.
By the 1970s, due to advancements in weapons systems, these measures became obsolete, and in 1974, the base, known as Riker Hill Nike Battery Control Area NY-80, was sold to the county for $1. For a short time, the site was used to showcase dinosaur fossils that had been found nearby, in a quarry. But there was little interest from the public, and this was also closed down.
Shortly after, the former army barracks were transformed into 38 artist studios, with the spaces now being used for various disciplines, such as sculpture, painting, photography, glass blowing, pottery, printmaking, ceramics, and more.
Each of the buildings is painted a different color. Whilst taking a stroll around the 42-acre complex you can enjoy the scenic overlooks, check out the large metal sculptures, and also see if you can spot any military remnants.
Know Before You Go
Parking is plentiful. There is broken glass in some of the wooded areas, so be sensible and alert.