Kathryn Brannigan Walizer
Castle Garden, New York
The Southwest Battery was built during the war of 1812 on tip of Manhattan Island. It was fully staffed and armed to defend the Island, however it never did fire a shot. In 1817, the fort was renamed Castle Clinton in honor of DeWitt Clinton, Mayor and later Governor of New York. It was deeded to the city of New York in 1823 and was renamed Castle Garden where it housed a popular restaurant and provided an entertainment venue for the citizens of New York. In 1840 a second story and roof were added and it served as an Opera house and theater until 1854. In 1850, P. T. Barnum presented the "Swedish Nightingale," Jenny Lind, in her American debut at the opera house. Well you are saying ,what does this, interesting as it may be have to do with genealogy? Castle Garden was leased to the state of New York in 1855 and opened as a immigrant receiving center prior to the Ellis Island center. During the next thirty four years from 1855 to April 18, 1890 over eight million persons entered though those walls to the United States.
Castle Garden was altered again in 1890 and became the New York City Aquarium and operated as such till 1941. In 1941 the building was scheduled for demolition to make room for the Battery tunnel.
Many preservationists struggled to save the building and preserve its history. The entrance of the United States into the second world war gave them valuable time to convince congress to declare it a national monument and this was done on August 12, 1946 . However before it could be put under congressional protection the wrecking ball had destroyed the roof and top floor before the destruction was halted.
The National Park service then took over the remaining structure and renamed it now for all times Castle Clinton . Castle Clinton is now a national monument because of its historical importance. The walls of the 1811 fort remain intact, while the interior has been given a new life. as a visitor center
Many people who go to the New York Battery pass by this structure on the way to view the Statue of Liberty or to catch the ferry to Ellis Island , perhaps one of your ancestors passed though here, one of mine did.
Castle Garden records can be accessed though http://stephenmorse.org then look for the Castle Garden browser link , another site to access the records is http://castlegarden.org. here you can search in a variety of ways, by first name and date or just last name and a series of years. This site will bring up all those with that name, the age of the person, the date arrived , origin of voyage, and the ship name.
Immigrant Processing Stations at the Port of New York
1624-31 July 1855: no receiving station
1 Aug. 1855-18 Apr. 1890: Castle Garden
19 Apr. 1890-31 Dec. 1891: Barge Office
1 Jan. 1892-14 June 1897: Ellis Island
15 June 1897-16 Dec. 1900: Barge Office
17 Dec. 1900-1924: Ellis Island