The Boston Harbor islands have a rich and interesting history. Various islands were used for coastal defense, as a correctional facility, to house prisoners of war, as a hospital, and as a landing point for refugees. Now an urban recreation area, you can fish, swim, explore old forts, and camp under the stars. — Thea Breite and Lisa Tuite
Boston Globe Archive
May 17, 1931: Prisoners from the Deer Island Prison were out in the recreation yard. In 1992, the prison was razed to prepare for the construction of the Deer Island Waste Water Treatment Plant. The truck in the foreground was taking the road gang out to work.
Boston Globe Archive
Aug. 23, 1936: Local families had summer homes on Great Brewster Island. Charles Henry, left, and John DeGaust, right, were assisted by children as they brought supplies to the island.
Paul J. Maguire/Globe Staff
Sept. 26, 1941: Battery E of the Ninth Coast Artillery at Fort Dawes on Deer Island practiced target shooting. The projectile was shown in the air in the upper right corner. Target practice took place from July through October of 1941. United States Army safety officers and patrol craft were posted during the actual firing, and mariners were requested to keep clear of the danger areas.
Arthur Griffin/ Globe Staff
Aug. 29, 1941: The Globe caption read: "A kiss for Hitler from the boys' best gals. The Fuhrer's name was scribbled on the shell." The shell was being fired in a training exercise at Fort Warren by Battery A of the National Guard Coast Artillery Regiment in New England. They were firing at targets 10 miles away. These were the men on whom Boston depended to protect from an ocean attack.
Arthur Griffin/Globe Staff
Aug. 29, 1941: The Big 12 cannon spoke with an authoritative voice in a flame-lit cloud of smoke during a training exercise at Fort Warren on Georges Island.
Edward F. Carr/Globe Staff
July 24, 1956: Castle Island's Revolutionary War fortress provided an excellent venue for Boston's play center for exceptional children.
Joseph Runci/Globe Staff
Sept. 8, 1969: Students disembarked from the ferry at Kelley's Landing on Thompson's Island. They were students at Thompson Academy on the 157-acre island. The island school provided an academic program of business and college courses as well as an arts program. It was initially established as the Boston Farm School in 1833.
William Ryerson/Globe Staff
Aug. 15, 1970: At a clean-up on Long Island these girls carried a large box full of debris from the water's edge. From left were Jennie Brennan, 7, of Lincoln, Edith Alexander, 9, of Boston, her sister Janelle Alexander, 7, and Laura Prien, 8, also of Boston. Before the volunteers left, they planted a Canadian hemlock tree on a knoll overlooking the beach as a memorial to the 225 tons of heavy jetsam removed from the island.
Bonnell Robinson for The Boston Globe
July 19, 1976: Audubon Society tour guides waited for a group on Gallops Island.