A walk along the Esplanade is all it takes to absorb the beauty and essence of Battery Park City. Running the entire length of Battery Park City, the 1.2-mile route is a wide walkway that provides breathtaking views of New Jersey's "gold coast" and Jersey City's up-and-coming downtown district. Historic Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty can be seen in the distance, while closer by are hundreds of species of plant and flora. Rollerbladers and bikers roll along the riverside, while others sit on benches or stroll by the view.
The trees all along South Cove make you forget you're in the city that never sleeps, yet every vantage point offers a different view or new adventure. The expansive green fields dotted with people run up to the glass-and-steel towers of the World Financial Center at North Cove, which in turn give way to the brick or brownstone waterfront condos in the southern part of the neighborhood.
And then there's the art. Rector Gate, a sculpture evocative of a futuristic weathervane, stands as one of the many entrances to the Esplanade. Nineteen other modern artwork installments are scattered throughout Battery Park City, serving as reminders as to why the neighborhood is known as an "urban experiment." From its inception, the neighborhood has been a testing ground for innovative ideas about urban living.
Recent History, the Only History
Named for the historic park on its southernmost tip, Battery Park City did not exist 50 years ago. Indeed, it's hard to imagine that this 92-acre plot of land wasn't even imagined until the 1960s. Separated from downtown Manhattan by West Street, Battery Park City is a 'planned community' owned and managed by the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), a public-benefit corporation created by New York State.
According to The Battery Conservancy website, Battery Park itself got its name in 1623 when the early Dutch settlers landed and the first 'battery' of cannons was erected to defend the city. In the 1800s, the park served as a welcoming center for immigrants before Ellis Island was established. It is now known as Historic Battery Park.