History of the Battery
The Battery’s strategic primacy at the prow of Manhattan enabled it to serve many dynamic roles in the city’s history. Located at the confluence of the Hudson and East Rivers, the Dutch settled here in 1624, and the first “battery” of cannons was erected to defend the young city of New Amsterdam.
Over the years, both the land and the fortifications were enlarged. Fort Clinton was built in anticipation of the War of 1812. A decade later it was renamed Castle Garden and was transformed into the city’s premier concert hall.
By 1855, successive landfills had enlarged the park to encompass Castle Garden. The State of New York established America’s first immigrant receiving center in the structure, welcoming 8.5 million people before the United States government assumed responsibility for immigration and ultimately moved processing to Ellis Island. (Visit our free online immigration database, CastleGarden.org, to search these immigration records.) In 1896, the Castle was transformed into the beloved New York Aquarium, one of the nation’s first public aquariums.
Following its near–total demolition by Robert Moses in 1941 as part of the battle to build a vehicular connection between The Battery and Brooklyn, the original fort walls were declared a National Monument by an Act of Congress in 1946. Restored to its fortification appearance by the National Park Service in 1975, Castle Clinton National Monument currently houses a small interpretive display and the ticket office for ferry service to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Nearly four million visitors pass through its walls annually.
Today, The Battery is one of New York City’s oldest public parks. Located at the southern tip of Manhattan overlooking New York Harbor, The Battery is truly the cradle of New York history, the front lawn of Lower Manhattan, and the hub of harbor access and cultural tourism. Seven million people, including residents, workers, students, and tourists from around the world annually visit the park and its major landmark, Castle Clinton National Monument.