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WHAT IS IT? Circular brick fort built between 1808 and 1811 to defend New York City. The fort has since been used as the New York City Aquarium, an opera house, and an immigration entry port, among other things.
BEAUTY (2/10) All that is left of the place is the circular brick base level. Any interior that might have existed has been usurped by two kiosks: one for buying ferry tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and the other for buying Statue of Liberty trinkets. Once you exit Castle Clinton the views of the harbor are gorgeous. Just donít turn around.
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE (5/10) Nearly as many people entered the United States through Castle Clinton (8 million) as did through Ellis Island (12 million). The buildings various incarnations as wartime fort, restaurant, aquarium, theater and opera house is interesting as well. Nonetheless, the place does not exude much of an historical aura. It seems, sadly enough, like only a ticket counter.
CROWDS (3/10) Lots of people inside the fort. Nobody in the small museum area. Everyone hurries in and rushes out to the security line to get on the ferry.
EASE OF USE/ACCESS (2/5) Right near the subway exit. But it is in downtown New York City at the edge of Manhattan. The nearest available parking is across the river in Jersey City.
CONCESSIONS/BOOKSTORE (1/5) Nothing site relevant.
COSTS (3/5) Itís free. But there is nothing to see. Thatís pretty much a push.
RANGER/GUIDE TO TOURIST RATIO (1/5) I did not see any.
TOURS/CLASSES (2/10) The small museum room had four dioramas showing a few of Castle Clintonís different faces. It marked the 10th diorama-based exhibit weíve seen in 20 days on the road.
FUN (3/10) Uh, no.
WOULD WE RECOMMEND? (2/10) You need to come here to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. So yes, come here and take the two minutes it requires to see the dioramas and photographs. If taking the Circle Line Ferry is not in your plans then there is no reason to come to Castle Clinton NM.
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