Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Battery: Where New York City Begins

By Jared "the tour guide" Goldstein, exclusively for Uncle Sam’s New York

New York City started on Manhattan Island in today’s Downtown, Lower Manhattan Financial District below Wall Street. It began at the Battery on the bottom of the island.

The "Battery" refers to the fort, Castle Clinton, which protected New York City from the mighty British Navy with its battery of cannons. In the 19th Century, Castle Clinton served as P.T. Barnum’s Castle Clinton Gardens, where Jenny Lind, ‘the Swedish Nightingale,’ entertained thousands for her American debut. It also served as an immigration point of entry for eight million immigrants before Ellis Island opened for immigration in 1892. It later became the New York Aquarium, the largest in the world. After World War II the Aquarium moved to Coney Island and the Fort was restored and reopened as a National Monument.

Alexander Hamilton came to Boston as a 16 year-old immigrant from the Caribbean, but came to this area shortly after.

Experience the Battery on the Alexander Hamilton Financial District Tour.

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1 comment:

Matthew Baker said...

You will read in some places that Castle Clinton is named for Governor DeWitt Clinton, the man behind the Erie Canal and New York's symmetrical grid system of streets. While many feel that this man is the single greatest New Yorker in the city's political history, the fact is that he was still mayor at the time of the fort's construction. It was almost certainly named after his uncle, George Clinton, New York's first elected governor (1777).

Castle Clinton is one of three forts whose battery of cannon was designed to protect the harbor. From the southern tip of Manhattan, you can plainly see Castle Williams on Governor's Island. On Liberty Island -- where the statue now stands)-- there used to be Fort Wood. These three forts were designed to created "triangular fire" (cannon fire from three different directions) to entrap any enemy ship that sailed into the harbor.

The triangular fire design worked too well as no enemy navy was ever dumb enough to sail into this trap. These cannons were never used in action. During the War of 1812 for which we were preparing, the British fleet simply blockaded the harbor (smart guys, the British navy).

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