THE AQUARIUM; SHIPPING.
Leaving the Custom House, we come out upon Battery Park.
I walked with my wife for an hour before dinner at the Battery. What a beautiful spot it is! The grounds are in fine order. The noble bay with the opposite shores of Brooklyn and Staten Island, vessels of every description, from the well-appointed Liverpool packets to the little market craft, give life and animation to a prospect unexcelled by any city in the world.—Philip Hone, 1846.
The scene is just as entrancing now as it was then. If anything, it is even more interesting. The shipping is more picturesque. There are new and stranger types of ships. War ships, merchant ships, iron ships, steel ships, wooden ships, air ships, and every known description of sailing craft dot the waters in every direction. The bustle of the harbor; the saucy little tug hauling huge strings of loaded barges; the arriving and departing liners; the ferries to Brooklyn, Staten Island, New Jersey, excursions to Coney Island, Rockaway Beach, the Highlands, superb million dollar private yachts, launches and odds and ends of maritime life—all combine to make a memorable scene and one never to be forgotten.
Opposite the West side of the Custom House is a rather interesting antique—the monument erected by the city in 1818 to mark the South-west bastion of Fort George. It disappeared in some mysterious manner, probably during the filling in of the Battery in 1851. At all events, it was unearthed during the excavations for the subway, and was replaced near the sidewalk in the grounds of the park in 1907.
After a stroll along the sea wall we enter a circular-shaped building, one of the most popular in all New York, the Aquarium. This is also one of our most important historical possessions and said to be one of the best known single structures in the whole United States, not even excepting the Statue of Liberty. It was formerly old Castle Garden and through its portals millions of emigrants passed in the years gone by. That is why it is so well known. All their descendants have heard of it. It was originally built as a fort in 1812 and named after DeWitt Clinton, then Governor of the State. It later became a place of entertainment. It seated 8,000 persons. It is the Nation's great landing place for distinguished foreign visitors. Lafayette came here on his first visit to America in 1821; "Papa" Jolfre, that other beloved Frenchman; the Belgian king, Gen'l Pershing and the Prince of Wales followed. Jenny • Lind sang here under P. T. Barnum. It is now under the care of the New York Zoological Society, a private organization, and used as an Aquarium. Its collection of fishes, especially from nearby tropical waters, is wonderful. Seals and sea lions are here, besides huge alligators, turtles and all kinds of aquatic curiosities. It is one of the most popular attractions in the city and is visited every year by nearly two million persons. See tablets.