2. Castle Clinton in The Battery
Built in anticipation of the war of 1812, Southwest Battery never had occasion to fire upon the enemy. In 1817, the fort was renamed Castle Clinton in honor of Dewitt Clinton, Mayor and later Governor of New York. In 1823, the fort was deeded to New York City, and the following year, its name was changed to Castle Garden to reflect its rebirth as a restaurant and entertainment center. With a large influx of immigrants landing at docks near Castle Clinton, it reopened as a landing depot and the official immigrant processing center in 1855. The Federal Government took over control of the immigration processing, and the function of processing was moved to a larger and more isolated facility, Ellis Island.
In 1896, Castle Garden became the New York City Aquarium, housing 150 specimens. The popular attraction received over 30,000 visitors on opening day, and remained the city’s most popular attraction until 1941, when the Park Commissioner, Robert Moses, fought to tear the historic structure down in order to build a crossing from the Battery to Brooklyn. Preservationists mobilized and the structure was designated a National Monument in 1946.
You can catch a glimpse of Castle Garden in its aquarium days in this video, the oldest surviving footage of New York City’s landmarks. The Aquarium moved to Coney Island, and Castle Garden underwent a major rehabilitation in the 1970s. Today it is administered by the National Park Service, and is used as a departure point for tourists sailing to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.