Castle Island's Name
In 1540, French traders of beaver fur built a stone chateau, one of the earliest European built edifices in North America, on an island in the Hudson River. They named it Castle Island.
Through the years, this island was renamed several times, as Fort Nassau, Fort Orange, Martin Gerritse’s Island, Patroon’s Island, Van Rensselaer Island, and finally by the late 19th century, it has been referred to as Westerlo Island.
The Albany city charter of 1686 fixed Albany’s southeastern boundary as the “tip of Marte Gerritse’s island.” For a time, this piece of land belonged to the town of Bethlehem. In the 1930s Island Creek was filled in, connecting Westerlo to the mainland and ending its time as an island and in 1932, the island had been fully transformed and the island’s original location was officially opened as the Port of Albany.
We are pleased to represent our city’s long and interesting history as the oldest chartered city in the US and our school honors the original name of its settlement, Castle Island.
Composites of a Google Maps image and part of a map from 1893. In the old map, Westerlo Island is still an island; the left image shows approximately where it would have been. The right image shows that the area is now occupied by the Port of Albany and a rail yard.
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— Albert Einstein