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 1623, 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. 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 concert hall.

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 the establishment of 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, resulting in 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. Over three million visitors pass through its walls annually.

Today The Battery Conservancy is committed to reversing years of neglect by redesigning and rebuilding the park’s landscape and completing an innovative adaptive reuse of the Castle.

Click through the ‘before and after’ images to see the stunning transformation of The Battery.