Castle Clinton - Unique Places in North America

Castle Clinton in Manhattan, New York City.
Castle Clinton in Manhattan, New York City.


Castle Clinton is located in Manhattan, New York City. The castle is also known as Fort Clinton, and was formerly named Castle Garden. First used as a defensive fort, Castle Clinton also served as an immigration center to the US which received more than eight million people between 1855 and 1890.

Castle Clinton is about two blocks from Fort Amsterdam, which was the headquarters for the city of New Amsterdam, which was later renamed New York. The castle is circular in shape and was constructed between 1808 and 1811 for the purpose of guarding New York City against attacks by the British in 1812. Castle Clinton was built on a small island, but became part of Manhattan Island when the water separating them was filled with landfill. The fort was initially open-air, but was later covered with a roof in 1821 to serve such functions as an exhibition hall, promenade, opera house, as well as a beer garden.


Castle Clinton became a popular tourist attraction when it housed the New York City Aquarium from 1896 until 1941. Presently, it serves as an entry to visitors heading to the Statue of Liberty. Castle Clinton was designated a national monument courtesy of Walter D. Binger and Albert S. Bard in 1957. It was rehabilitated in the 1970s and is managed by the National Park Service.

Castle Clinton was named after the New York Governor, Mayor Dewitt Clinton, in 1815. The United States Army initially leased Castle Clinton to New York City for entertainment purposes in 1821, and it was opened as Castle Garden on July 3, 1824, operating as a centre for exhibitions, theatre, promenade, and beer garden among many other entertainment functions. Some of the musicians who performed at Castle Garden during the 1850s included Jenny Lind (Swedish soprano), Lola Montez (European dancer), Louis-Antoine Jullien (French conductor and composer), and the Max Maretzeka Italian Opera Company. On October 15, 1996, Castle Clinton was added to the National Register of Historic Places.


Castle Clinton was the first immigrant processing center in the United States, dating back to the early nineteenth century. The center was under control of the State of New York until April 18, 1890, when the federal government took control of immigration, and moved the site to Ellis Island on January 2, 1892.


Castle Clinton is a popular tourist attraction for sightseers, theatergoers, and immigrants. The castle has evolved over the years since its initial purpose as a fort to prevent the British invasion in 1812.


Robert Moses, New York Park Commissioner, planned to demolish Castle Clinton in 1941 in order to build a crossing between Brooklyn and Battery. However, his plan was opposed by the public as it would have led to the loss of a national treasure.


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