Every big city has to start somewhere. That's the point behind an innocuously small structure on the tip of Manhattan. The open-air fort once served as a defense against a British invasion, a beer Read more...
Every big city has to start somewhere. That's the point behind an innocuously small structure on the tip of Manhattan. The open-air fort once served as a defense against a British invasion, a beer garden, concert hall, and America's first immigration station (before Ellis Island). As of 2018, it's a museum that marks the humble beginnings of America's largest city.
The U.S. Army began building Castle Clinton in 1808. It's a mere two blocks from the original Fort Amsterdam built by the Dutch in 1626 when the city was known as New Amsterdam (cue TMBG song). By 1811, New York was a bustling port city that served as the nation's capital before it moved to Washington. The fort was the first line of defense against an invading British fleet.
Somehow, Castle Clinton never saw real action as the British never came up the Hudson. (They burned Washington DC to the ground instead). At the time of its construction, Castle Clinton sat upon a small artificial island just off of Manhattan. It took several decades for the rest of Manhattan to fill in behind it.
Tourists going to Ellis Island and Liberty Island see Castle Clinton as they board a ferry to the islands. The structure stands today in much the same condition it was in 1811, as an open-air fort used for training Army recruits. In modern times, Castle Clinton is a fixture of Battery Park and a tiny reminder that all huge cities start small.
Reach Castle Clinton on foot. Make sure to take public transportation or a taxi to get there, because parking your vehicle outside the fort very expensive.