3. Castle Clinton Was Home to the Country’s First Beer Garden

Aerial view of Castle Clinton. Photo by National Park Service NPS.gov.

Before it became an immigrant processing center, Castle Clinton temporarily served as entertainment center between the years 1823-1854. It was deeded to the city in 1823, and was renamed Castle Garden, which featured a beer garden/restaurant, and later, an opera house, theater and exhibition hall. During its short-lived tenure as one of New York City’s most popular entertainment centers, it played host to notable visitors like Opera singer, Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale,” who made her American debut there in 1850, as well as European dancing star, Lola Montez, who performed her “tarantula dance” on site.

Additionally, many new inventions were demonstrated at Castle Garden, including the telegraph, Colt revolving rifles, steam-powered fire engines, and underwater electronic explosives. To accommodate such performances and showcases, a domed roof was placed over the structure in 1845.