Who's asking: Matthew Lavinder, Mechanicsville, VA
Matthew's asking about Battery Park in New York City, the southern tip of Manhattan island -- but I used to ask the same question about the Battery in Charleston, at the end of Meeting Street, where my grandparents lived. Where, I wanted to know, were the batteries, and why would you name a park after them?
"Battery" in this case has nothing to do with electricity. It's a military term that means a group of guns, cannons or rockets designed to be fired as a unit. The Charleston Battery is full of antique cannons, which Kathy and I used to climb on. New York's Battery Park served as the primary defense point for the Port of New York until after the American Revolution, and subway workers in 2005 found a 200-year-old gun wall.
Battery Park is also the site of Castle Clinton, which was the point of entry (the "Emigrant Landing Depot") for New York's immigrants before the opening of Ellis Island, from 1855 to 1892. Several of my own ancestors (and Matthew's) probably passed through there.