Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Guillermo Linares, Parks & Recreation Borough Commissioner William Castro, and Lower Manhattan Development Corporation President Stefan Pryor today flipped the ceremonial switch on the new Spiral Fountain and unveiled the restored Immigrants statue, marking the completion of the full renovation of the Battery Bosque. Simultaneously, Battery Conservancy President Warrie Price and Center for Castle Garden Director Ira Glazier launched CastleGarden.org, a database of the records of more than 10 million immigrants who arrived in the United States between 1820-1897, which will be made free to the public.
“Castle Garden historically played a vital role in the development of New York City; indeed of the nation as a whole,” said Commissioner Castro. “The new Battery Bosque and website will allow countless more individuals to access their family histories and experience Castle Garden firsthand.”
Author of bestseller Angela’s Ashes Frank McCourt presented a reading, as did Circle Line Harbor Tours Director Steve Harris. Susan McKeown performed “America the Beautiful,” and television personality Pia Lindstrom served as Master of Ceremonies. Ira Glazier, Director of the Center for Castle Garden also spoke on the first immigrants to set foot in America. Kids from Tony Dapolito Recreation Center’s Camp Carmine came by to enjoy the festivities and run through the fountain, and refreshments were served at the new Battery Bosque kiosk.
“Battery Park is a treasure for Lower Manhattan and all of New York City. The new fountain will be a site to behold at the transformed Battery Bosque, and is just one more amenity that downtown has to offer its residents and visitors,” said LMDC President Stefan Pryor. “The LMDC has already made an unprecedented commitment of over $25 million dollars for parks and open spaces, enhancing the quality of life for families downtown. Under the leadership of Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg, the next few years will bring a parks renaissance--transforming both waterfronts and creating and revitalizing an additional $20 million worth of additional parks and playgrounds throughout Lower Manhattan from the Lower East Side to the Battery.”
The Spiral Fountain is phase II of the Battery Bosque reconstruction. The fountain features 35 in-ground interactive illuminated jets, laid out in a spiral pattern on a stone circle. The fountain was designed by Weisz + Yoes Architecture at a cost of almost $1.4 million. This fountain marks the final phase of the $8.5 million reconstruction of the Battery Bosque, a project entirely funded by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
Today also marks the 150th anniversary of the Castle Garden Emigrant Landing Depot opening in 1855. The Depot was America’s first official immigration center, and to honor the millions of immigrants who passed through Castle Garden from 1855 to 1890, The Immigrant was given as a gift in 1973 from the Rudin family to the City of New York. The sculpture was recently renovated and relocated, also as part of full renovation of the Bosque funded through a grant from LMDC.
The remarkable body of data that will be free to access with the launch of CastleGarden.org was compiled over a 25-year period and will, along with the Ellis Island’s American Family Immigration History Center, complete the immigration history of the Port of New York. The data set includes critical information on everyone who arrived from 1820-1897, the period of highest per capita immigration to the United States. The Center is comprised of three components: an electronic archive, the website castlegarden.org, and a research center for scholars.
Castle Clinton was built in anticipation of the War of 1812. A decade later it was renamed Castle Garden and was transformed into the City’s premier cultural center. By 1855, successive landfills had enlarged the park to encompass Castle Garden, and the structure became America’s first immigrant receiving center, welcoming 8.5 million people before it was succeeded by Ellis Island. In 1896 the Castle was transformed into the beloved New York Aquarium, one of the nation’s first public aquariums.