Over this past weekend we took advantage of the mild January weather and took a trip over to Battery Park. We got some great photos (at least we think so) and took the opportunity to revisit this relatively small area packed with some big history. The birthplace of New York, Lower Manhattan is full of monuments, landmarks and stories. Standing in almost any given place it is easy to become caught between the past and present. Amid the more well known sites are numerous, more discreet historical remainders, small reminders of the rich history to explore.
Below are some highlights. With so many sites to choose from it was hard to narrow it down but here are some of Old New York’s favorites!
Now a National Monument and New York City Landmark, Castle Clinton is a sandstone fort. It was completed in 1811 in preparation for the War of 1812. Although Castle Clinton has had a wide range of uses, as well as names, the circular walls you see today are the real deal. Having been previously modified for different purposes, it is now back to its original look and one of its earlier names.
Bowling Green Park
This small, quiet park doesn’t readily reveal its secrets. Bowling Green Park is the oldest public park in New York City, predating the city’s name itself. One of its original uses, a cattle market, dates back as early as 1698 when the island was known as New Amsterdam or perhaps more accurately, Nieuw-Amsterdam.
James Watson House
Located at 7 State Street, directly across the street from Battery Park is the James Watson House. It is the only surviving building of its day located in the area. Built in 1793 this elegant Federal Style home belonged to, you guessed it, James Watson, who was the first Speaker of the New York State Assembly. A Federalist member of the New York and Federal Senates, Watson was also a successful importer-exporter. This stoic New York City Landmark is an example of a typical row house, many of which lined the streets of Lower Manhattan throughout the late 1700s and early 1800s. The James Watson House currently serves as the rectory to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church, home to the Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine.
Of course we couldn’t visit Battery Park and forget to mention our appreciation for The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and let us not forget the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, also home to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. There is so much to take in and explore, we are very excited to tell all the stories that make up this great city.
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