Edges of the City

Battery Park

Adjacent from World Trade Center and Financial District


  • “The West Battery was built as part of the New York Harbor defense system to defend New York City as tensions between France, Great Britain, and the United States grew following the Revolution War.”


  • War Department relinquished fortress to the City of New York who transformed the property into an entertainment facility with a restaurant and exotic landscaping.


  • Entertainment facility converted into an Opera House


  •   Causeway removed and island joined to Manhattan with landfill
  •  First home of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Samuel Morse introduced the telegraph here


  •  Lease transferred to the New York Board of Commissioners of Emigration
  • More than eight million immigrants had become Citizens at this Facility


  •  City Parks Department assumed ownership of land


  •  Architecture firm of McKim, Mead & White renovated structure in order to become the New York Aquarium
  • Alland, Alexander -- Photographer

    Photographic views of New York City, 1870's-1970's / Manhattan

  • Landfill was used to surround structure


  • Battery Park designed as part of the city beautiful movement during the 1910s
    • Tear shaped park which extends 22.98 acres


  •  Aquarium closed and threatened for demolition in order to build the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel


  •  Demolition began, Castle Clinton became national monument. In addition to the demolition of the Aquarium, tenements surrounding the area were torn down in order to build tunnel.


  • Cargo Docks and Piers began to decay and collapse.The initial proposal: To reclaim this area through landfill
  • Governor Nelson Rockefeller announced his desire to redevelop a part of the area as a separate project


  • Reached a compromise, the governor unveiled the proposal for what would become Battery Park City:
  • Architect Wallace K. Harrison, proposed a ‘comprehensive community’ consisting of housing, social infrastructure and light industry. The master plan allocated a mix of uses that included 42 percent residential, 9 percent commercial, 30 percent public open space, and 19 percent streets and avenues.


  •  New York State Legislature created the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) to oversee development.


  • BPCA issued $200 million in bonds to fund construction efforts


  • Landfill completed; in many cases, the existing piers were simply buried.


  • Construction halted due to financial hardships


  • The title to the landfill was transferred from the city to the BPCA, which financially restructured itself and created a new, more limited master plan.


  • Population increased nearly 60% due to high rise construction adjacent to Battery Park


  • The Conservancy for Historic Battery Park established as a non-profit


Abbott, Berenice, Changing New York, 1998

Architectural Record. Battery Park City: A new Residential skyline for downtown New York. December 1983, pp.28-29

Breen, Ann, & Rigby, “”Waterfronts Cities Reclaim Their Edge””, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994

Depository Material Government Publications, 1997

Final General Management Plans Environmental Impact Statement, Manhattan Sites, New York





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