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Birdseye View of Lower Manhattan - 1850


Lower Manhattan - 1850

Lower Manhattan
Lower Manhattan in 1850 was under-going tremendous changes, and the East River had become one of the busiest waterways in the World.

The original West Battery, built in 1811, had been converted to a theatre. Here it's seen projecting out into the bay from Battery Park. A few years after this was drawn, landfill would be used to bring Battery Park flush with the fort as it is today.

Other landmarks seen here are Trinity Church, just up Broadway from the Park, and Federal Hall just down Wall St. from the Church. The domed structure next to Federal Hall was the old Merchant's Exchange, used for commodities trading. Farther up Broadway is City Hall. The Whitehall Ferry - built on the site of Peter Stuyvesant's original house - lies around Battery Park to the right of the West Battery.



Castle Garden - 1840

West Battery
After the war of 1812, the West Battery was decommissioned as a Federal installation and given over to the City. It was renamed Castle Gardens and converted to a theatre . This was where P. T. Barnum debuted the famous Jenny Lindt – “The Swedish Nightingale” they called her. Castle Gardens quickly became the premier concert venue in the city.

In turning the fort into a theatre, a second story of bleachers was added and then roofed over. In 1855, the city government repossessed Castle Garden and turned it into an immigrant landing station. Some 7.5 million immigrants came through its doors between 1885 and 1892, when Ellis Island took over.

It was then redesigned as an aquarium by the architectural firm of Kim, Meade & White. In 1940, in the heat of a political struggle, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses decided to knock it down. It was in the way of a proposed Brooklyn-Battery Bridge that he wanted to build. His men had managed to demolish the second story before Franklin Roosevelt, a New Yorker himself, declared it a National Monument, which led to the building of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel instead. Thus enshrined, the Fort was restored to its original 1812 condition.


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Maps / Central Park / Greenwich Village / Lower Manhattan / Soho / South St. Seaport / Washington Square

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