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Castle Clinton

Castle Clinton (6)

An old fort in the middle of the park? This is Castle Clinton, Battery Park's top spot. 

The truth is that what is really interesting is not the building itself, but its history and how it's use has changed over the years.

We invite you to take a small trip back in time while enjoying a leisurely stroll around this iconic building. 

We'll start by going back to the early 19th century. More specifically, to the War of 1812, when more than a dozen forts were built to defend the port of New York. One of these forts is the one standing before you. Known as West Battery, it was erected by John McComb between 1808 and 1811, on what was then an artificial island 90 metres from the shore. 

The fort was renamed Castle Clinton in honour of the mayor DeWitt Clinton and became the reception site for foreign dignitaries visiting the city. 

Later, it was renamed Castle Garden and was transformed into a room where 6000 spectators could enjoy a good opera or a play.

In 1855, the fort became the Main Emigrant Landing Depot, receiving immigrants arriving to the United States. Up to 1890, when this was transferred to Ellis Island, more than eight million people passed through the centre. 

In 1896 it was given a new use and became the New York Aquarium, which closed in 1941.

Finally, in 1946, the building was saved from demolition, restored and declared a national monument. The monument is now a museum and also houses the ticket offices where you can buy ferry tickets to Liberty Island and Ellis Island.

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