Things to Do in Battery Park

This post is about Battery Park, how to get there, and things to see and do once you are there. Most people quickly pass through on their way to the Statue of Liberty departure point, but the Battery itself is worth some of your time. You can find incredible vistas of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty. There are many monuments honoring soldiers, explorers, inventors, and immigrants. It has old leafy trees, benches where you can relax and lots of squirrels. (Keep that camera ready!) 

How to Get Here
Things to Do + See
Battery Park City
Other Lower Manhattan Attractions
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Staten Island Ferry

Watch this short video to see how much Battery Park has to offer!

 


HOW TO GET TO BATTERY PARK

Lower Manhattan subways

You can use this google map to get exact directions to the northern entrance to Battery Park from your departure point by any mode of transportation. 

By subway: 

  • 4 or 5 subway trains to Bowling Green station
  • 1 train to Rector Street or South Ferry station
  • N, R to Whitehall Street or Rector Street
  • A, C, J, Z, 2, 3, 4,5 to Fulton Street Station. You will have to walk about 10 minutes south on Broadway from this Station.

By bus: 

  • M55 Downtown
  • M15 Downtown
  • M20 to South Ferry Downtown

TIP: If you are planning on taking a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, most have a stop at Battery Park.  Read our comparison post on New York City bus tours.


By car:  

Parking by Battery Park

From the West Side: Take the West Side Highway / West Street south to the Battery Place exit. This is the last exit before the Battery Tunnel underpass. See map for area parking garages.

From the East Side: Take the FDR Drive south to Exit 1 – Whitehall Street. Immediately after the exit, a parking garage is available at 1 New York Plaza.

Parking in Lower Manhattan:

On the right is a map with paid parking lots near Battery Park. Click on the map to be taken to a page with each lot’s information, phone number, and website. You can also look for street parking but that is challenging in Lower Manhattan. 

 


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THINGS TO DO IN BATTERY PARK

Battery Park is not only big but also easy to find yourself in the opposite place as your destination. Its layout has different paths, which is nice to meander through the abundant nature you will find here. You may find it helpful, in addition to using our map to download the official Battery Park Map to help you find restrooms, food stands, and which exits and entrances are closest to where you arrive at the park. For this tour, you will enter the park at its northern entrance at the very end of Broadway (where State Street and Battery Place meet).

 
This map is interactive. Use your mouse to scroll around.For a large version of this map, click on the box icon in the upper right-hand corner of the map.

 

 

 


BATTERY PARK (blue markers on map)

(1) Netherland Memorial  (1926)

Netherlands-Memorial-Battery-Park

When you enter the park you will immediately see a stone monument and flagpole, with an inscription in both Dutch and English, commemorating the Dutch colonization of New Amsterdam. The monument was given to New York by the Dutch government in 1926. In addition to the text, there is a large carving showing Peter Minuit, the Dutch provincial Director General, and a Native American. The carving depicts the “sale” of what the Lenape tribe called Manna-hata to the Dutch. The myth that the Dutch “bought” Manna-hata (now Manhattan) from the Native Americans for the equivalent of $24 in trinkets and beads is just that — a myth.

Based on a remaining record from 1625 that references the Dutch purchase, it is more likely that the Lenape tribe received 60 Guilders worth of various animal skins, including otter, lynx, mink, and muskrat. The value of 60 guilders in 1626 is over $1000 today in dollars. This document that survived nearly 400 years, is a letter from Peter Schaghen, the liaison between the Dutch government and the Dutch West India Company, the business venture that assisted in colonizing New York. This letter references the transaction in some detail and it is today held by the Rijksarchief in The Hague, Netherlands. To see an image of this historic letter, click here.


(2) Giovanni  da Verrazano Monument  (1909) 

Verrazano Monument

Italian explorer and navigator Giovanni da Verrazano (c. 1485-1528) is by Ettore Ximenes (1855–1926) and was dedicated October 9, 1909.  Verrazano was an explorer who was born into a family of nobility. In 1524 he became the first European known to have reached New York Bay. He was hired by French King Francois I, as well as Florentine bankers. Verrazano set sail in search of a route to the Pacific Ocean and the Far East but the mission was unsuccessful. His life was cut short when, just a few years later in 1528, he was killed in the Lower Antilles by the natives there. 

You might notice that the inscription on the statue smells his last name incorrectly, as there is an additional ‘z’.  But ultimately, he did a lot better than just a statue — the Verrazano Bridge which connects the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island is named after him. 


(3) Korean War Veteran’s Memorial (1991)  

The Universal Soldier Battery Park

This monument is a tribute to military forces who fought in the Korean Conflict that lasted from 1950 to 1953. The memorial was dedicated in 1991 and designed by Welsh-born artist MacAdams. The monument features a 15-foot-high slab of black granite with a cut-out in the shape of an American soldier, known as “The Universal Soldier.” The monument was designed so that one can see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island through the cut-out.

Note the mosaic of flags of the 22 countries involved in the Korean Conflict. All along the pavement are inscriptions of how many people died, were wounded, or went missing in action from each of the countries. A very special feature of the monument is that is acts as a sundial on one day of the year.  Every July 27 at 10 a.m., the date and time the Korean Conflict was declared over, the sun shines through the soldier’s head and lights up the plaque at the base of the statue.  


(4) American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial (1991) American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial

This bronze sculpture memorial honors the approximately 6,000 mariners who died in World War II, during which an estimated 700 American merchant ships were lost at sea as a result of the battles with the enemy.  The figures and boat are built upon a jetty and are startlingly realistic. That was the artist’s intent; Marisol Escobar modeled the sculpture on a photograph of an actual event. During an attack on an American merchant marine vessel, the Nazi U-boat crew took photographs of their victims and the sinking vessel. The memorial is haunting, as one can almost feel the suffering of the Mariners in their final moments.


(5) Castle Clinton (1812)   Open  7 days a week 7:45 am – 5 pm and is free to enter. 

Castle Clinton

In 1811, the relatively new American government feared that Great Britain was going to return to take back what she lost 3 decades earlier.  Thus a fort was built at the southernmost tip of Manhattan which was the most easily accessed entrance into Manhattan by the British Navy.  This fort, known as the West Battery, was never used against the British. America won the war of 1812 and the fort was converted into an entertainment center and renamed Castle Clinton in honor of Dewitt Clinton, Mayor and later Governor of New York. From 1855 to 1890, Castle Clinton was the federal immigration arrival center for the east coast since Ellis Island was not opened until 1892. 

Castle Clinton- public domain

In 1890 Castle Clinton was acquired by the New York City Department of Public Parks, which used the building for the home to the New York Aquarium from 1896 to 1941. Castle Clinton was finally given its much deserved historic demarcation in 1946 when the National Park Service restored the fort to its original appearance complete with replica cannons.

There is also a very small but quite interesting exhibit room with documents, maps, and photographs that show the development of the fort and the park. This is especially fun for kids to see. 

NOTE:  The ticket office for the ferries to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty is located at Castle Clinton. You can find out more information by reading our post Guide to visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  Nearby is the departure point for the Staten Island Ferry as well.


(6) Statue of Liberty Vista Point

From here you will have unobstructed views of the New York Harbor including the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, Brooklyn, the Verrazano Bridge and much more. This part of the park has benches and is a wonderful spot to sit down and catch a breeze.


(7) The Immigrants  (1973) 

The Immigrants

Sculptor Luis Sanguino depicts the struggle of immigrants in this larger than life bronze figural group. This is a highly moving monument, representing immigrants arriving at Castle Clinton which was the first point of entry into America for newly arrived immigrants from 1855 to 1890. In 1892, Ellis Island became the primary immigrant processing facility. The sculpture depicts figures of various ethnic groups and eras, including an Eastern European Jew, a freed African slave, a priest, and a worker. They are posed in ways that emphasize the hardship that immigrants undergo to escape oppression to take a perilous journey to a new land filled that offer hope. Their faces reveal mixed emotions — from weariness to anxiety of the unknown and the relief of having arrived at a new beginning in life.

To fully understand the plight of immigrants to America a visit to Ellis Island together with the Statue of Liberty is recommended.  See our post on How to Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.


(8) World War II East Coast Memorial  (1963)East Coast Memorial Battery Park

This memorial honors the 4,611 missing American servicemen who died in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II. The architectural firm of Gehron and Seltzer designed this large, paved plaza, highlighted by eight 19-foot tall gray granite pylons. On each of the pylons are inscribed the names, rank, organization, and state of each of the soldiers. The bronze eagle, sculpted by Albino Manca (1898–1976) stands on a shining pedestal of black granite. Within its claws is a laurel wreath over a wave. 

The statue was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy on May 23, 1963, just months before his assassination.


(9) SeaGlass Carousel Sea Glas Carousel

Music, art, glass, and steel, all come together in this magical journey of the sea. This carousel contains 30 different types of giant glowing fiberglass fish. While it’s purpose is recreational, it is also an homage to the first New York Aquarium which was originally located in the Battery.  The New York Aquarium, which stood in the Castle Clinton area, was one of America’s first public aquariums. From 1896-1941, over 2 million people visited every year. The New York Aquarium is now in Coney Island. 

The Carousel is open 7 days a week, Sunday – Thursday 10 am-7 pm and Friday and Saturday 10 am – 8 pm. Tickets are $5 a ride.

TIP: If you are a carousel lover or someone who loves beautifully juxtaposed urban environments, check out Jane’s Carousel which is included in our post about Things to Do in Dumbo.


(10) Staten Island Ferry Terminal   

Nearby is the departure point for the Staten Island Ferry. This is a free boat ride you do NOT want to miss. Read our post on the Staten Island Ferry to find out about schedules and the best times to go. We also have suggestions about what there is to do on Staten Island if you decide to stay.


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BATTERY PARK CITY  (red markers on map)

Before the 1980s, there was no Battery Park City. In fact, there wasn’t even much land in this location. In the early 1970s, when the World Trade Center was being built, more than one million cubic yards of earth and rocks were dug up to make space for the deep foundations of the WTC.  It was dumped across West Street close to the Hudson River and this created 92 acres of landfill. That newly-created area became known as Battery Park City. It took several more years for the area to be developed into usable space for commercial and residential buildings. By the early 1980s, the area was becoming a desired part of the city to live in, especially for those who worked in the financial district.

After 9/11, however, some residents of Battery Park City left the neighborhood. Residents were deeply affected by this tragic and traumatic event. Many witnessed the Towers collapse. For a few years after 9/11/2011, residential values in the area dropped dramatically as people were reluctant to move to the area. Now Battery Park City has once again become a part of the city that draws people in.

You don’t often see tourists here, as it is not your typical “sightseeing” locale. This is very much an enclave of the city, with mainly tall residential buildings, lots of green space, playgrounds and beautiful harbor views. If you have the time on your trip to leisurely spend an afternoon along the waterside, you will fall in love with this sliver of New York City. You will also enjoy many pieces of large-scale public works of art. See the Battery Park City Parks website to find out more about the artwork, and find out hours, events and amenities. You can also download Battery Park City’s detailed PDF map.

Directions:

  • By Subway:  1/R to Rector St; 4/5 to Bowling Green or Wall St; A/C, 1/2/3 to Chambers St; E to World Trade Center; N/R to Cortland St.
  • By Bus:  M9, M20, M22, the Downtown Connection free downtown shuttle bus stops nearby 

Watch this video for the interesting story of how Battery Park City
was conceived and developed.


(1) Wagner Park

The 3.5-acre park is named for Robert F. Wagner Jr. who served in a number of civic positions including former NYC deputy mayor. This park is a mixture of neatly cut lawns and densely planted gardens. Paths and walkways weave through it, and several public works of art are located here. It is one of the airiest and open parks in NYC as it sits right next to the Hudson River. You might even forget for a minute that you are in the huge metropolis that New York City is. But then you look out into the distance and see the Statue of Liberty and you remember exactly where you are.


(2) Eyes 

This stark, modernist sculpture is aptly named. The EYES were placed in Wagner Park in 1995 and are the work of the artist, Louise Bourgeois. You aren’t the only one staring at the beautiful waterfront vista. So are these giant granite eyeballs.


(3) The Esplanade and Park

The Esplanade runs along the Hudson River all the way from Battery Park to the southern boundary of TriBeCa at Chambers Street. Benches are placed along the path which is wide and has plenty of room for runners, cyclists, and casual walkers. There are many groomed lawns so bring a blanket and plop down for a picnic or just some sunbathing.

Tip: If you want to explore TriBeCa, the artsy and historic neighborhood north of Battery Park city and south of SoHo, see our post on Things to Do in  TriBeCa.


Pictured below: Wagner Park, EYES sculpture, The Esplanade

Wagner Park  


(4) The Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

This excellently curated museum honors the victims of the Holocaust by examining Jewish traditions, achievements, and religious faith, thus keeping the Jewish people’s legacy alive today. The three floors are filled with select items from the museum’s collection of almost 25,000 artifacts, photographs, documents, historic films, and testimonies. Special exhibits enhance the experience.  Visit their website for more information.
Location:  36 Battery Place (at 1st Place)
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday 10:00 am – 5:45 pm; Wednesday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm; Fri 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; Saturday Closed
Ticket Prices: Adult $12.00; Senior $10.00; Student (18+) $7.00; Child (13 – 17) $7.00


(5)  South Cove Park along the Esplanade between First and Third Places

This is not your average park. It contains a variety of landscapes including winding walkways, a curved jetty, a small bridge, and an island. It’s interesting to walk through as you make your way along the Esplanade. The views are lovely and the park’s landscape includes boulders that kids can safely play on.


(6)  Rector Gate at the intersection of Rector Place and the Esplanade

This 50-foot tall archway, created by artist R.M. Fischer, was built in 1989. It’s made of stainless steel, bronze, and granite and is lit up at night. This is both a sculpture and an entranceway under which you walk, leaving the city behind and entering the special environs of Battery Park City. Fisher is said to have been inspired by 1950s science-fiction movies, and also the idea of portals that allow people to pass from one world into another.


(7)  The Upper Room at the corner where Albany Street meets the Esplanade

This sitting space/art piece by artist Ned Smyth resembles a giant chess set and at the same time an ancient archeological site.  The Middle Eastern-inspired reddish columns and colonnades are combined with pebbled concrete, bluestone, brass, and mosaic. The juxtaposition to the city beyond the park is striking.


Pictured below: Museum of Jewish Heritage, South Cove Park, Rector Gate, The Upper Room

Battery Park City Collage 2
(8) Berlin Wall slab at Gateway Plaza and the North Cove Marina

Most people including Native New Yorkers have no idea that four segments of the Berlin Wall are located in Manhattan. The city of Berlin donated this slab to New York in 2004, on the 15th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, a day forever associated with freedom. The placement of the slab just a short walk from the ‘Freedom Tower’ at One World Trade Center was not a coincidence.  A bigger section of the Wall can be found at a small pocket park on East 53rd Street by Madison Avenue,  another piece is next to the entrance to the Intrepid Museum, a third piece is outside the United Nations. The fourth slab is inside Ripley’s Believe it or Not!  

TIP: If you are planning on going to Ripley’s Believe it or Not! or Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, see our post on getting discounts to these attractions. Discounts to the Intrepid Museum and Discounts for Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Also, use our guide to visiting the United Nations where you can see one of the Berlin Wall slabs.


(9) Brookfield Place at 230 Vesey Street

Located across the street from One World Trade, this plaza attracts locals and tourists alike looking for an upscale shopping experience from stores like at Gucci, Hermes, Jo Malone, Bottega Veneta, Burberry and Louis Vuitton and many more. Their 30,000-square-foot food court, called Hudson Eats is an upscale food court with fast-food dishes from some of the best eateries in the city such as Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar, Umami Burger, and Dos Toros Taqueria. There is also an expansive view of the Hudson River. Brookfield Place also hosts interesting art installations, musical events and other regularly scheduled activities for both children and adults. Check Brookfield Place’s website to find out about events, shops, and food choices. TIP: In winter, there is a beautiful ice-skating rink! If you cant make it to Brookfield Place, see our post Where to Go Ice Skating in New York City.


(10)  The Winter Garden inside Brookfield Place

This is a huge atrium made almost entirely of glass. The garden refers to the tall palm trees that grace this massively tall public space. It might be snowing outside, but it is a nice warm garden inside. There are benches and the grande staircase to sit on. They have very nice public bathrooms too. And there is free WiFi! For information on where else you can get free Wi-Fi in NYC, see our post.


(11)  Pylons

This artwork by artist Martin Puryear is made up of two tall stainless steel columns, one made of mesh wire leaving it open and airy. The other column is solid and angled. When lit up at night, the pylons add to the already scenic background of the Hudson River.


Pictured below: Berlin Wall, Brookfield Place, the Winter Garden, PylonsBrookfield Collage


(12) Irish Hunger Memorial  at the corner where Albany Street meets the Esplanade

This memorial designed by artist  Brian Tolle commemorates the Great Potato Famine (1845-52) while also addressing contemporary hunger worldwide. This memorial is unique in that it is interactive. The memorial is a quarter-acre plot of land. It is as if a chunk of Ireland had been dug up and moved to Battery Park City. The land atop the memorial was cultivated to look like a rural Irish landscape during the famine years. On the barren land sit an abandoned stone cottage and fallow potato fields. Visitors can walk on top of the memorial as well as inside. A dark corridor takes you through the memorial. Voiceovers tell of the horrors of living through the famine years. Wall engravings detail the destitution of famine victims with poems, letters and short excerpts from parliamentary reports. The memorial also has text that reminds us of the battle with famine in contemporary times. This is a particularly moving memorial, especially since it is placed in one of the most flourishing, greener parts of the city.


(13)  Rockefeller Park

This park is one of the many public locations in New York City created by or dedicated to the members of the Rockefeller family, whose financial and political and philanthropic legacy is found all over the city. This park is named for Nelson A. Rockefeller, who served as the governor of New York from 1959 to 1973 and as Vice President from 1974 to 1977. This is the largest park in Battery Park City and has running and cycling paths, basketball courts and a great lawn perfect for families, picnics, and frisbee players. In addition to the lush green space, shady trees and fragrant flowers are also Check out the ping pong and pool tables.  You can go to the Rockefeller Park House who lends toys and sports supplies. Present photo ID or apply for a free Borrower’s Card to borrow books, balls, and games. Play pool, ping pong, and other games for all ages.  From May 1st through October 31st the Park House will be open every day from 11 am to 6:30 pm.


(14)  Pavilion

This piece by Demetri Porphyrios is both a sculpture and a structure that can be used as a place to get shade, stay dry from the rain or just sit upon and gaze at the river nearby. It is made of granite, wood, brick, and copper. The flat roof is bolstered by classical Doric columns. The artist’s vision was that of a metaphorical stepping stone along mankind’s journey from the primitive to the modern.  


(15)  The Real World

Located in Rockefeller Park, this public work of art is actually a playground.  Its dual purpose is to offer a place for toddlers to roam and climb and to make a political statement The artist Tom Otterness is well-known for whimsical sculptural installations placed throughout New York City. His bronze cartoonish creatures are often posed enacting scenes that question the role that money plays in society. The playground features an entire society of both animals and people, cops, and robbers, predators, and prey. Kids innocently romp on the sculptures while adults can contemplate the darker aspects of the real world.

 

Pictured below: the Irish Hunger Memorial, Rockefeller Park, Pavilion, The Real World

Battery City Park Collage 3

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OTHER LOWER MANHATTAN ATTRACTIONS

There are dozens of things to see in Lower Manhattan. For such a small area, you could easily spend two days exploring the narrowest point in Manhattan. See our post Things to See in Lower Manhattan for dozens of suggestions and a self-guided tour. We also offer a self-guided, GPS-enabled audio tour of the area.

If you are interested in a pay-what-you-like guided walking tour of Lower Manhattan, we offer 3 options: a 2 hour tour that focuses on just Lower Manhattan, a daily, 3 hour Downtown Manhattan Tour, which covers part of Lower Manhattan plus Chinatown, Little Italy and SoHo and a 6 hour NYC in One Day Tour, which combines the 3 hour Downtown Tour and adds to it Greenwich Village and the High Line.  Find out about our Lower Manhattan Tours here.

Here are some suggestions

  • Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. and soar to the sky at the top of One World Observatory (Freedom Tower) 
  • Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge! Our Brooklyn Bridge Visitor Guide helps you make the most of this unforgettable experience.  We also have an audio tour of the bridge as well.
  • See Native American art and artifacts at the free Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. It is housed in one of the most beautiful buildings in New York City, the old U.S. Customs House.
  • Head over to Wall Street and take a Wall Street tour or explore it on your own with our Self-Guided Walking Tour of Wall Street.
  • Plan in advance for a tour of the Federal Reserve where a whole lot of gold is kept!
  • While you are there, see the outside of the New York Stock Exchange, and though you cannot go in, this virtual tour will show you what is going on inside this historical institution. 
  • Directly across from the Stock Exchange is the free Federal Hall monument. Climb the stairs and have your picture taken with a larger than life George Washington. Take a look inside. (FYI: there are public restrooms inside!)
  • Head northeast to new, revitalized South Street Seaport with stunning waterfront views, shopping, and historic buildings and tall ships. 
  • Take advantage of being downtown and get discount Broadway tickets for that night!  The ferry terminal is within walking distance of one of the TKTS booths. To see how to get discount Broadway tickets, see our post, TKTS and Discount Broadway Tickets.
  • Walk northwest and stroll around the relaxing neighborhood of TriBeCa with our Self-Guided Walking Tour.
  • Visit historic and beautiful Trinity Church with its magnificent stained-glass windows.
  • Visit Fraunces Tavern, the pub where George Washington did when he said farewell to his troops as he left the military to become the first President of the United States.
  • Take your picture with the iconic Charging Bull of Wall Street.

TIP:   Consider buying the Downtown Culture Pass which will save you money if you plan to visit several museums with admission fees such as:

 


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By Courtney Shapiro

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