When you step out of the subway or off the ferry at the Battery, you step right into history – four centuries’ worth. This is where Nieuw Amsterdam was founded in 1625.
Much of the current Battery Park didn’t exist then – when built (1811), Castle Clinton was an islet several hundred feet off the tip of Manhattan; over the years, landfill extended the shoreline west, south and east.
Castle Clinton never fired a shot in anger: New York harbor fortifications were so formidable that the British in 1812 chose easier targets – like Washington, D.C. Architecturally, the fort is interesting because (like Castle Williams on Governors Island) it is round, not star-shaped (like Fort Jay, also on Governors Island, or Fort Wood – the base of the Statue of Liberty). Currently Castle Clinton has a small visitor center/book store and ticket sales for Statue of Liberty tours.