Battery Park: Not to Be Missed

Battery Park: Not to Be Missed

Battery Park – also known as The Battery – is one of the oldest parks in New York City. The park and its surrounding areas play a historically significant role in the shaping of Manhattan.

While the traditional lands of the Lenape (Lenapehoking) was a large region encompassing New Jersey, and parts of Pennsylvania and New York, Manhattan’s Southern end was particularly bountiful to these Native Americans. This was largely due to the convergence of salt and fresh waters, creating an estuary along its shores which is a breeding ground for many varieties of wildlife.

The area’s natural resources and strategic position eventually drew European settlers, ultimately forcing the Lenape out. In the mid-to-late 1600s, Dutch settlers colonized in the area, built the city of New Amsterdam and erected a battery of cannons along the shore to protect their settlement – hence the name, “Battery Park.”

Following several Anglo-Dutch conflicts and transfers of power, the English began their occupation of the area in 1674. After the Revolutionary War, the last vestiges of British forces finally left in 1783 upon President George Washington’s arrival to New York City – the first capital of the United States.

Southwest Battery – constructed during The War of 1812 – was later renamed Castle Clinton and expanded to include Castle Garden. Beginning as a concert venue, the location served as the country’s first official immigration center processing 8 million people before it closed, and later became the site of the New York City Aquarium before it moved to Coney Island, Brooklyn.

Along with the refurbished Castle Clinton National Monument, The Battery’s 7 million annual visitors enjoy beautiful gardens, access to New York Harbor ferry destinations, and the park’s many attractions.

SeaGlass Carousel

On the site of the former aquarium lies an innovative and spectacular “360° aquatic adventure.” This carousel in the shape of a nautilus mixes whimsical fish seats, bioluminescent lighting, architecture, music, sound and cinema, delighting the senses while bringing light and art to visitor and landscape alike.

Perennial Gardens

The Battery’s 4-acre garden is the largest of its kind in America. It is open to the public year-round, free of charge with 35,000 perennial plants, food kiosks, a magnificent fountain, and a meandering bike path that connects the East River Esplanade with Hudson River Park. Set sail on one of many cruise boats or tourist ferries along the 1500-foot Battery Promenade, or just sit and enjoy the best views of New York Harbor.

Battery Urban Farm

This educational urban farm teaches visitors of all ages how to take care of the environment while practicing sustainable farming techniques and exposing them to new and nutritional foods.

Students get hands-on experience helping to farm and cultivate the many vegetables, flowers, herbs, grains and more that the farm produces every year. The farm also features oyster restoration stations where students can learn about water ecology while helping to restore New York Harbor by nurturing and monitoring oyster growth.   

Battery Park Monuments

The Battery features many monuments, statues and memorials to commemorate historical events and people throughout history. The premier landmark is the 200-year-old Castle Clinton National Monument, along with Castle Garden. There are twenty other monuments, sculptures, obelisks and other memorials to honor immigrants, servicemen, merchant mariners, explorers, scientists, writers and more.

Events at The Battery

There are several on-going events at The Battery to enhance your enjoyment and understanding of this historic green. Some are free, registration is required for all.

If you’d like to learn more about this historic park, there are guided tours every Thursday. Your guide will take you through the park highlighting its history, landmarks and points of interest.

The NYC Audubon offers free bird walks to learn about (and hopefully spot) the many birds that migrate and nest at The Battery. You’ll be treated to the knowledge of an Audubon expert and natural historian who knows the city, its ecology, and the birds that thrive in it.

Through September, bring your mat to practice Yoga In The Battery. Along with being in the beautiful surroundings of the Woodland lawn, you’ll have great views of the harbor, the fountain, and the Statue of Liberty. A $10 donation is requested.

 

Battery Park: A Starting Point

The gangways along The Battery’s Promenade are your departing point for destinations to iconic New York Harbor tourist spots such as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Staten Island, and sightseeing cruises that offer the best views of New York’s skylines, bridges and more.

Whether its to soak up some history, take a cruise, or simply enjoy the harbor views, Battery Park is a must-see destination in Manhattan for the whole family.

Look for next week’s blog, “South Street Seaport: The All-in-One.”