A Brief History of Castle Clinton

Castle Clinton history is rich. Originally built as a fort, it was transformed to become the headquarters for the United States Third Military District. Next, it became a popular entertainment site transformed for Lafayette’s visit to America, before becoming a popular beer garden and finally turned into a historical attraction.

West Battery
Castle Clinton National Monument’s construction started in 1808 and was known as the West Battery. The original fort was designed by John McComb Jr. and Jonathan Wright and constructed of rocks from Manhattan. Prior to the construction of Castle Clinton National Monument, John McComb Jr. was best known for designing lighthouses, including the Old Cape Henry Light, the first lighthouse authorized by the federal government. He also designed the Montauk Point Lighthouse and the Station Eatons Neck Lighthouse. In 1803, he was the architect for the new New York City Hall completed in 1803. Castle Clinton was one of four forts built to defend the city during the War of 1812. The other three were Castle Williams located on Governor’s Island, Fort Wood, located on Bedloe’s Island, Fort Gibson, located on Ellis Island. General Joseph Bloomfield was named as the commander of the fort, which contained 28 cannons. The fort built in a “D” shape was constructed two blocks west of the original Fort Amsterdam, connected to Manhattan by a 200 foot wooden causeway. This starts the history of Castle Clinton.

Castle Clinton
Castle Clinton received its name after Dewitt Clinton who rose to be an important political leader during the building of the Eerie canal. First he served on the commission that proved the need for the canal. Then he helped to survey the path for the Eerie Canal, that changed how merchandise was shipped in America. Next, He went on to become a United States senator and mayor of New York.

Castle Garden
Castle Clinton history continues when it was given to the city and was opened as Castle Garden on July 3, 1824. The fort was quickly remodeled into a ballroom for the visit of Lafayette to America continuing the rich history of Castle Clinton New York. Fifteen years later, the garden was leased by Richard French, who transformed it into a beer garden for the period of ten years. New York’s elite attended parties at the garden and others observed from the water. Performers at the gardens included Jenny Lind, Lola Montez, and Louis-Antoine Jullien.

Castle Clinton has had a rich history. Visitors to the castle, which is open on the weekends, will see the original fort as restored by the National Park Service.

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