Castle Clinton is located in Battery Park at the lower end of Manhattan. It sits on a site that’s just a few hundred feet away from the location where Fort Amsterdam stood when New York City was a Dutch colony 400 years ago. The fort was completed in 1811 and named Battery West. It was an integral part of the defense of New York Harbor against the British during the War of 1812. The name was changed to Castle Clinton in honor of the mayor, Dewitt Clinton.
When the U.S. Army stopped using the fort in 1815, it was turned over to the city and the name was changed to Castle Garden. The circular sandstone structure became a very popular entertainment venue. As immigration began to rise in the late 19th century, numerous passenger ships docked at the nearby piers. The Castle was transformed into the Emigrant Landing Depot, the first such facility in the nation. It served in this capacity until the immigration processing function was transferred to Ellis Island in 1892. At which time, the Castle reverted to an entertainment facility and served as the home of the New York Aquarium for several decades. In 1950, it became a National Monument and renamed Castle Clinton. Today, it serves as the embarkation point for ferries to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.