At Manhattan’s tip is Battery Park (bordered by State Street and Battery Place, nearest subways 1 to South Ferry Station or 4/5 to Bowling Green Station), a gentle, crescent-shaped park filled with curved pathways, statues, and sculptures. Built on landfill, it’s lined by the wide Admiral George Dewey Promenade, a walkway within the park. Wooden benches along the promenade make great places to relax in the sun and enjoy superb harbor views.
Battery Park is part of “the Battery,” the term used for the whole downtown tip of Manhattan. The name comes from the battery of cannons that once stood along Battery Place, on the park’s north side.
Though not much to look at now, the roofless red sandstone ring of Castle Clinton (north end of Battery Park, 212/344-7220, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, free admission) was once an American fort protecting the city against the British. When it was built in 1807, it stood on an outcropping of land some 200 feet out in the harbor and could only be reached by drawbridge.
From 1855 to 1890, before the establishment of Ellis Island, Castle Clinton served as the Immigrant Landing Depot. In 1896, it was remodeled into the New York Aquarium. Today, the edifice houses a small bookstore, tourist information center, and the ticket booth for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ferries.
On the monument’s east side, a small National Park Service museum chronicles the castle’s history.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition