Battery Park is a 25 acre (10 hectare) public park located at the Battery, the southern tip of Manhattan Island in New York City, facing New York Harbor. The Battery is named for the artillery batteries that were positioned there in the city's early years to protect the settlement behind them. At the north end of the park is Castle Clinton, the often repurposed last remnant of the defensive works which inspired the name of the park, the former fireboat station Pier A and Hope Garden, a memorial to AIDS victims.
At the other end of the park is Battery Gardens restaurant, next to the United States Coast Guard Battery Building. Along the waterfront, Statue Cruises offers ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The park is also the site of the East Coast Memorial which commemorates U.S. servicemen who died in coastal waters of the western Atlantic Ocean during World War II, and several other memorials.
To the northwest of the park lies Battery Park City, a planned community built on landfill in the 1970s and 80s, which includes Robert F. Wagner Park and the Battery Park City Promenade. Together with Hudson River Park, a system of greenspaces, bikeways and promenades now extend up the Hudson shoreline. A bikeway might be built through the park that will connect the Hudson River and East River parts of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. Across State Street to the northeast stands the old U.S. Customs House, now used as a branch of the National Museum of the American Indian and the district U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Peter Minuit Plaza abuts the southeast end of the park, directly in front of the South Ferry Terminal of the Staten Island Ferry.
Within the park lies Castle Clinton, an American fort built on a small artificial off-shore island immediately prior to the War of 1812 and named for mayor DeWitt Clinton. When the land of Battery Park was created, it encircled and incorporated the island. According to data from the National Park Service, Castle Clinton was named the most popular National Park. Castle Clinton, site of the ticket office for ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, recorded nearly 4.08 million visitors in 2009.
The fort became property of the city after the war and was renamed Castle Garden. Leased by the city, it became a popular promenade and beer garden. Later roofed-over, it became one of the premier theatrical venues in the United States and contributed greatly to the development of New York City as the theater capital of the nation.
Five months after being damaged but not destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Fritz Koenig's The Sphere, which once stood at the center of the plaza of the World Trade Center a few blocks away, was reinstalled in a temporary location along Eisenhower Mall in the northern section of the park. Hope Garden is a memorial dedicated to AIDS victims. With its eternal flame the garden has also served as a temporary September 11 memorial, housing The Sphere. The garden has also been used as a site for environmental demonstrations due to its fragility and status as a tourist attraction.
On December 8, 2005, New York City authorities announced that builders working on a new South Ferry subway station in Battery Park had found the remains of a 200-year-old stone wall. After archaeological analysis, it was widely reported to be the oldest man-made structure still in place in Manhattan.
"This wall most likely is a portion of the gun batteries that once protected the city in the late 17th and 18th centuries and gave rise to the modern park name," said Robert Tierney, chairman of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The city and the New York City Transit Authority plan to work together to preserve the remains, which were described as "an important remnant of the history of New York City."
A total of four distinct walls and over 250,000 individual artifacts were found in the excavation of the South Ferry subway station. A portion of one wall was placed on temporary display inside Castle Clinton. In 2009, a long portion of wall was embedded permanently into The Wall of the entrance to the newly constructed station.