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Castle Clinton, Manhattan

Castle Clinton

A view from Broadway to the Battery
Museum of the City of New York
Castle Clinton, today Castle Clinton National Monument, stands two blocks west of where Fort Amsterdam once stood. The sandstone fort was built in anticipation of the War of the 1812. It was built on a small artificial island off shore. Originally called West Battery or Southwest Battery, it was renamed Castle Clinton in 1817 for Dewitt Clinton - New York City's Mayor and later New York Governor.

In 1823, Castle Clinton was deeded to the City. It was used as a restaurant and entertainment center and renamed Castle Garden.

The roof was added in 1840 and Castle Garden served as an opera house and theater. Jenny Lind, often referred to as the "Swedish Nightingale", debuted her American tour at Castle Garden on September 11 and 13 in 1850. She returned again to bring her tour to a close in May of 1852. It served in this respect until 1854.

By 1855, landfills had enlarged the Park to encompass Castle Garden.

New York City Aquarium 1895
Museum of the City of New York
On August 3, 1855 the Castle became the Castle Garden Immigration Station, the first official immigrant processing station in the nation. During the next 34 years, eight million entered through the Castle Garden Immigration Station. Castle Garden was operated by New York State until April 18, 1890 when the Federal Government took control of the processing and opened the larger and more isolated Ellis Island facility on January 2, 1892.

After remodeling, Castle Garden reopened on December 10, 1896 as the New York City Aquarium. The New York City Aquarium was one of the nation's first public aquariums. The aquarium was relocated to Coney Island in 1941.

New York City Aquarium in 1904
Museum of the City of New York

The structure was nearly demolished to build a crossing from the Battery to Brooklyn but was ultimately saved by public outcry. The original fort walls were declared a National Monument by Act of Congress in 1946 and operated by the National Park Service. After restoration by the National Park Service, the site was reopened in 1975.
New York City Aquarium in 1910
Museum of the City of New York
New York City Aquarium in 1939
Museum of the City of New York
Castle Clinton
Library of Congress

Castle Clinton's Exterior (pre-restoration)
Library of Congress
Interior of Castle Clinton (pre-restoration)
Library of Congress
Castle Clinton's North Gate from the exterior prior to the National Park Service restoration.
Library of Congress

Castle Clinton Forth Gate from the interior prior to the National Park Service restoration.
Library of Congress


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