Battery Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:State Street and Battery Place (near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal), Manhattan, NY
Hours:6 A.M. to 1 A.M. daily
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: At Battery Place and State Street
Water/Snacks: Vendors throughout park

Located at the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park is steeped in more than 200 years of history and still teems with activity today.

Battery Park.
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

Battery Park is the oldest public space in New York City, and one of the most historically significant locations in the United States. It was the birthplace of Manhattan more than 400 years ago. Today, the 20-plus-acre park offers plenty of space for walking and a playground at State and South streets. Concerts take place here throughout summer, and the park is studded with monuments that commemorate the area’s and nation’s history. Many are located within the 4-acre Battery Bosque Garden, a beautifully landscaped area that features woodland perennials, cultivated native plants, and a preservation of 140 London plane trees that, legend has it, owe their existence to Michael Rapuano, an Italian landscape architect who loved the species and designed it into various parks in New York City in the 1930s.

A network of stroller-friendly, paved and gravel paths all eventually lead to Castle Clinton National Monument at the northwest edge of the park. Originally built as a fortress during the War of 1812, the castle served as an assembly hall and open-air theatre before becoming an entry point for immigrants from 1855 to 1890. In 1896, the castle was reborn as the New York Aquarium, one of the nation’s first public aquariums. It remained that way until 1941 when Robert Moses, who was then parks commissioner, closed the Battery and began demolishing the fortress. Congress stopped the demolition, and the remains were taken over and developed by the National Park Service.

The shoreline around the castle has likewise evolved greatly, as landfill projects throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries pushed it farther into New York Harbor. Today this extended coast serves as the launch point for ferries to Ellis Island, Liberty Island, and Governors Island, and for the free commuter ferry to Staten Island. It is also part of the Greenway bike path that nearly circumvents Manhattan.

Remember: Battery Park is very popular and can get crowded with local and out-of-town visitors. It may be necessary to walk, rather than ride, bicycles through some areas.

Plan B:

Battery Park Esplanade (Trip 24) is a great place to walk and visit destination playgrounds along the Hudson River. Liberty Island (Trip 70),Governors Island (Trip 72), and Ellis Island (Trip 71) all provide opportunities for recreation and teaching your kids about the history of New York City and the United States.


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