History of Castle Clinton

Castle 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 cultural center. By 1855, successive landfills had enlarged the Park to encompass Castle Garden and the structure became America’s first immigrant receiving center, welcoming 8.5 million people before it was succeeded by Ellis Island. 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 in 1941 and a major preservation battle, 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, the Castle currently houses a small interpretive display and the ticket office for the Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island ferry.

The historical records used by Castlegarden.org are held by and available for research at the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, New York City.

Click below to see a slideshow of Castle Clinton’s history