Constructed at the beginning of the 19th century to protect the New York harbor from the British forces, Castle Clinton is a structure which holds great historical significance. It was formerly located off-shore, but now, history buffs can visit it at the scenic Battery Park.
Clinton Castle is the sole standing fortress found in Manhattan. It was constructed from 1808 to 1811 on a man-made island and was previously called West Battery. The brownstone fortress which is circular in form was created by Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Williams and John McComb, Jr.
Clinton Castle was meant to protect the city during the height of the War of 1812 from Great-Britain and was reinforcement to Castle Williams on Governor?s Island. Neither Clinton Castle nor Castle Williams was used in battle.
Clinton Castle was once found in 11-meter deep water and was adjoined to mainland New York by a 90-meter long wooden ramp with a drawbridge. The fortress featured 28 artilleries on a single tier. Bullets were stored inside the rounded edges of the backmost wall. Officer lodgings were found at both sides of the entryway leading to the causeway. However, there were no quarters for the others who manned the fort during the war.
The fort was officially named Castle Clinton in 1915 in honor of DeWitt Clinton who served as New York City?s Mayor for 12 years from 1803 to 1815.
Landfilling expanded the borders of Battery Park and eventually, Castle Clinton became part of the mainland. The Army relinquished the fort to the city in 1821. It was transformed into an entertainment facility in 1823 called Castle Gardens. The name stuck and a lot of New Yorkers still call it as such. It used to have an opera house, a theater, an exhibition gallery and a beer garden.
Castle Clinton functioned as an immigration port for those migrating to America before Ellis Island came out for 35 year from 1855 to 1890. Approximately 8 million immigrants were welcomed by Castle Clinton when they arrived in the United States. After serving as an immigration port, it was converted to the New York Aquarium.
Castle Clinton was threatened to be torn down by Robert Moss in 1939 who made a living by demolishing historic communities and abodes to give way for new thoroughfares. He wanted to destroy the historical fort to create space for the building a new bridge that would adjoin Brooklyn and Battery. Luckily, then President Franklin Roosevelt got involved and the project was trashed. Another threat to tear down the structure came about in 1941 when several politicians put forward the idea when the New York Aquarium transformed to Coney Island. Concerned New Yorkers fought for the preservation of the fort and in 1946, Castle Clinton was recognized as a National Monument.
Currently, the historic fortress functions as the ticketing office for Statue Cruises which operates boat tours of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Every now and then, musical performances and other events take place here. Guests can also engage in a ranger-led tour of Castle Clinton.