Located at the very southern tip of the island of Manhattan, The Battery is a very special place for both its historical importance and contemporary vitality. Long known as Battery Park, today The Battery is home to several memorials, monuments, and historical landmarks, as well as Peter Minuit Plaza, Whitehall Terminal, and Castle Clinton, where you’ll find numerous transportation options such as the Staten Island Ferry and boat service to the Statue of Liberty.
Battery Park History
Much of contemporary New York City can trace its roots to The Battery. It was here that early European explorers like Giovanni da Verrazzano and Henry Hudson noted the suitability of Manhattan Island as a site for potential settlement, and indeed, the Dutch West India Company constructed their North American base of operations, Fort Amsterdam, here in 1626. Fort Amsterdam would fall to the British in 1664, and they would promptly rename the area (wait for it) New York.
The site would remain a military installation throughout the 18th Century, serving first as a bulwark for British forces in the region, and then for George Washington and his Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The nineteenth century would see The Battery fulfill a number of roles, including being established at one point as the first federal processing center for immigrants. Today, The Battery has been preserved, restored, and revitalized, and stands as an important transportation hub and a popular tourist attraction.
What’s at Battery Park
You’ll encounter much to see and do at The Battery. It’s a picturesque park with stunning views of New York City in multiple directions, and there’s history everywhere you turn. The Battery is home to The Monument Walk, which contains roughly two-dozen memorials honoring everything from war veterans to immigrants to the poet Emma Lazarus and more. And don’t miss Castle Clinton National Monument. This structure, originally a military fort, dates to the War of 1812 and has served roles as diverse as a beer garden, concert venue, theater, and immigration center.
There’s a crucial, practical side to The Battery, too. Here is where you’ll find one of the busiest transportation hubs in the entire city. This is where Statue Cruises’ ferry service to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island departs. Meanwhile, Peter Minuit Plaza is a sleek open space that functions as the gateway to Whitehall Terminal and the park’s New York City subway stations. Whitehall Terminal is where you can catch the free Staten Island Ferry.
It’s not all historical markers, solemn memorials, and public transportation at The Battery, though. Another favorite attraction here is the SeaGlass Carousel, a nautical-themed ride the little ones are sure to love. Then there’s the Battery Playscape. Consisting of an assortment of slides, tunnels, footbridges, and even a sandbox, Playscape is a delightful place the kids will enjoy immensely.
If you’re in the mood for something a bit calmer and more contemplative, make time for The Battery Gardens. We’re talking nearly 200,000 square feet of plants, flowers, and perennials that are free and open to everyone. Meanwhile, The Battery Woodland is a four-acre lawn perfect for a picnic lunch, and The Battery Labyrinth makes for a brief, yet pleasant stroll.
Tips for Visiting Battery Park
- The Battery Playscape is open year-round, but its hours vary seasonally. Be sure to check the current hours of operations before you visit.
- A lot of guided tours, including many of the walking variety, either cover or depart directly from The Battery. Keep this in mind as you plan your trip, because it means you might be able to combine a visit to The Battery with other sightseeing stops (possibly saving time and money).
- While you may purchase tickets for the Statue of Liberty ferry in person at Castle Clinton National Monument, it’s really best to buy them ahead of time from the Statue Cruises website. This way you can ensure you have tickets for the day and time that work absolutely best for you and your party.
- Don’t forget to make time for photographs! The Battery covers some 22 acres, and there are countless terrific views scattered throughout this expansive space. No matter what your plans here entail, you’ll want to build in enough extra time to enjoy the moment and snap that perfect picture.