The conduit between Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, the Battery is a 25-acre park located in tip of Lower Manhattan overlooking the New York Harbor. The Battery existed before colonial America, but came to its name as a bulwark for the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam in 1624. Taking advantage of its tactical position in the fork of the Hudson and East rivers, the Dutch installed a set of cannons – or a battery – overlooking the bay at the very tip of today’s southern Manhattan. Today, the Battery is both one of New York’s oldest parks and a fresh-faced pioneer in landscaping technology. Under the care of the Battery Conservancy, established in 1993 to transform the area into a green space for tourists and residents alike, the Battery’s many gardens and urban farms have become pinnacles of landscaping technology and sustainable park management. Home to many monuments that honor the history of New York and the USA, the Battery welcomes over seven million residents, tourists, and world travelers annually.
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CASTLE CLINTON AND OTHER MONUMENTS
Over the centuries, Castle Clinton, the Battery’s foremost monument, has served many purposes: a military base, a concert hall, New York and America’s first dedicated immigration center, and as the beloved New York Aquarium. Finally, after the castle’s near destruction in 1941 as a part of a city roadway planning dispute, the federal government declared its remaining walls a national monument. By 1975, the walls were restored to its Fort Clinton state by the National Park Service, and the castle on the Battery was repurposed one last time as a ticket area and mini-exhibit for Castle Clinton, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Ferry services to Ellis Island depart from gangways just outside the castle on the promenade. Today, Castle Clinton acts as a central hub for attractions in lower Manhattan, the harbor, and the Hudson.
Scattered throughout the park are several other monuments to soldiers, innovators, and other times and persons throughout American history. Notable among them are the Battery Cannon, a cannon from the Revolutionary War, The Immigrants, a statue which celebrates Castle Clinton’s history as an immigration receiving center, and the New York Korean War Veteran’s Memorial.
Open to the public 365 days a year, the Battery’s Perennial Gardens is the biggest of its kind in America. Since 2005, the garden has served as the core of the garden’s greenery, a woodland buffer between Manhattan and the harbor. Its wide array of perennials house a plethora of food kiosks and a large marble fountain set flush into the ground. The fountain, which is open for public entry, hides many water jets that spray randomly from beneath the surface of the water, making it a popular play area for summer visitors. The fountain marks a border between the wooded gardens and the Battery Promenade, which lines the shoreline of the Battery. The promenade hosts six gangways for the ferries and cruise boats of the harbor, and embedded in the perimeter wall is The RiverThat Flows Two Ways, an art installation by Wopo Holup. Cutting through the Perennial Gardens is the Battery Bikeway, which connects the Hudson and East riverbanks and shows the best of the gardens’ design.
TTHE BATTERY URBAN FARM
An educational collaboration established in 2011 by the Battery Conservancy and Environmental Club at Millennium High School, the Battery Urban Farm strives to encourage healthy food habits in their visitors, teach visiting volunteers about sustainable garden cultivation, and instill environmental responsibility in the citizens of New York. Volunteers from both schools and the public grow thousands of pounds of food yearly, and the farm donates the produce to local schools through the Garden to School Café program and the food truck program Drive Change, which rehabilitates and employs the formerly incarcerated. The Labyrinth Farm, a maze, is open to the public at limited hours during the day.
Seaglass Carousel, located at the southeast corner of the Battery Woodland, was built in 2015 as a permanent fixture of light within the park. The carousel, encased in a gigantic glass nautilus and featuring a unique underwater theme, features fiberglass fish-shaped cabs that revolve, rise, descend, and even spin on their pivots, all without a center pole. The Seaglass is instead propelled by an underground turntable system set flush to the ground, giving the carousel an open quality. The attraction is lit during the day, but at night, the Seaglass glows with flowing aquatic blue light that fills the interior. The carousel’s delicate fiberglass fish glow with LEDs, which shift from color to color. Each fish has an audio system built seamlessly into the cab that plays music to their riders. The carousel also features accessible stationary cabs. The carousel, a reminder of the castle’s history as the beloved New York Aquarium, now hosts birthday parties, first dates, and timeless photo opportunities.
State Street and Battery Place, New York, NY 10004, website, Phone: 212-344-3491