8 SECRETS OF BATTERY PARK
8 SECRETS OF BATTERY PARK
Battery Park is a beautiful oasis on the southern tip of the island of Manhattan. Battery Park, officially known as The Battery, is 25 acres of green, leafy goodness with stunning views of the Statue of Liberty. While thousands flock to Battery Park daily to line up for Statue City Cruises setting sail for the Statue of Liberty, most miss these ten hidden gems. Get ready to impress your friends with knowledge when you visit Battery Park.
- Battery Park is Named for Artillery!
Battery Park does not get its name from the type of battery that never seems to last long enough in our iPhones. Battery Park gets its name from an artillery battery. Battery Park has housed military artillery for several wars and conflicts. The first battery in Battery Park can be traced back to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam between 1625 and 1626. Perhaps the most famous battery in Battery Park fired shots in 1776, during the New York and New Jersey campaign of the American Revolution. American troops tried to keep away the 3,200 British troops that entered New York Harbor, but were ultimately unsuccessful. Americans abandoned the existing fort and artillery as the British took Lower Manhattan. Fearing a repeat of this battle during the War of 1812, the Americans heavily fortified New York Harbor with several forts, including Castle Clinton, which still stands today. No shots were ever fired.
- Castle Clinton is Named for Everyone’s Favorite Clinton
One of the most striking structures in Battery Park is a red brick, cylinder-shaped building known as Castle Clinton. Castle Clinton was used as military fortifications during the War of 1812. It was named for New York’s mayor at the time, DeWitt Clinton. DeWitt Clinton has no known relations to the former president. DeWitt Clinton was a pretty spectacular New Yorker. It was his idea to put Manhattan on the grid system. He is the reason Manhattan’s streets are numbers. He also helped create the Erie Canal, which massively changed shipping in the U.S. for the better.
- Memorial to Those Who Lost Their Lives at Sea
The East Coast Memorial is a powerful structure overlooking the harbor in Battery Park. It consists of 8 giant Chelmsford granite pylons bearing the names of over 10,000 American servicemen and women who lost their lives at sea during World War II. In between the pylons is a giant, bronze eagle standing over a wave. Look closely and you’ll notice the eagle is clutching a laurel wreath in her talons. This signifies the eagle mourning over the watery graves of those servicemen and women. The entire memorial lines up with the Statue of Liberty.
- Fish Carousel
Battery Park is home to a delightful Seaglass Carousel. The Seaglass Carousel gives visitors a chance to ride on one of thirty giant, illuminated fish which bob up and down to delightful and enchanting music. The Seaglass Carousel commemorates the aquarium that used to stand in Battery Park. This aquarium was wildly popular and would host an average of 10,000 visitors a day. When Robert Moses proposed building a giant road through the aquarium, it quickly relocated to Coney Island, Brooklyn, where it remains to this day.
- A Chance to Grow a Cabbage
Battery Park is home to an urban farm. Battery Urban Farm is an educational farm aiming to give New York City students, residents, and visitors a chance to experience sustainable farming and enjoy organic foods. On any given day, you can walk by the farm and see local students, aged 5–95, planting green beans or harvesting radishes. Battery Urban Farm is located on the east side of Battery Park.
- Korean War Memorial
The New York Korean War Veterans Memorial is one of the most powerful sculptures in Battery Park. The memorial consists of a giant, black granite stele, or obelisk. Carved into the stele is a form of “The Universal Soldier.” The silhouette can frame both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, depending on where the viewer stands. On the base of the monument are listed the number of dead, wounded, and missing Veterans from every single country involved with the Korean War. The memorial was placed in Battery Park in 1991.
- American Merchant Mariner’s Memorial
The American Merchant Mariner’s Memorial is actually located in the Hudson River, just off the west side of Battery Park. This bronze sculpture depicts 3 merchant mariners who were struck by a German U-boat. The Germans photographed their victims as the merchant ship sank. Look closely at the structure and notice the figure in the water. As the tide rises, the figure drowns beneath the waves. As the tide goes out, the figure gasps for air. It gives the memorial a haunting, lifelike realism. The sculpture memorializes American merchant mariners who lost their lives in every American war.
- A Monument to the Netherlands
Did you know that before New York was New York it was called New Amsterdam? It was a Dutch trading colony. On the northeast entrance to Battery Park, visitors will find a giant flagpole. This flagpole is actually the Netherland Monument. The flagpole was a gift to NYC from the Dutch people, dedicated in 1926. A closer look at the flagpole might reveal a bit of uncomfortable history. Visitors will notice a figure of a Dutchman trading with a member of the Lenape people. The inscription reads, “…the purchase of Manhattan was accomplished in 1626, thus was laid the foundation of the city of New York.” Looking at this through the lens of 2023, many believe the Lenape were tricked into selling the land and reparations are due.
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