Located in the heart of New York Harbor, this massive public park covers 172 acres and can be reached by a quick ferry ride from Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn. Governors Island is open to visitors from May 1st to October 31st and offers a picturesque, pedestrian-only environment with many events and activities including concerts, bike rentals and ample space for picnics and relaxing. It is a great destination in the summertime for those wanting to escape the heat of the city.
An Island for His Majesty’s Governors
When the English captured New Amsterdam and renamed it New York in 1664, they took control of this island. It was then known as Nutten Island because the Native Americans of the region referred to it as as Pagganck, which means “Nut Island,” due to the many chestnut and hickory trees on the land. The island went back and forth between the Dutch and the English for about a decade until Britain finally gained exclusive control for the “benefit and accommodation of His Majesty’s Governors.” It was officially named Governors Island in 1784.
A Military History
Governors Island served as a military base by both the British and American forces for more than two centuries. After the revolution, New York State took control of the island and it was unused for many years until the War of 1812, when troops were stationed there to provide coastal defense. The island continued to be used for military purposes during the American Civil War and throughout the two World Wars. It became a major Coast Guard installation after the U.S. Military forces were consolidated in 1966, with a residential community of about 3,500 people.
A National Monument
Many historic events have taken place on Governors Island including the relighting of the renovated Statue of Liberty by President Reagan in 1986. The island has also hosted many key events including Reagan’s U.S.-U.S.S.R. summit with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988. Today 22 acres of the island have been declared the Governors Island National Monument, the centerpiece being two 1812-era fortresses.
A Public Space
New York City took over ownership of Governors Island from New York State in 2010. Mayor Bloomberg has transformed a large portion of the island into a public park. A popular place for picnicking and bike-riding, the island offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, Jersey City and downtown Manhattan. There are many outdoor and indoor spaces on the island available for public programs and events, and in the summer months the island hosts a busy schedule of concerts, festivals and activities.
Visiting Governors Island
Governors Island is located approximately half-mile south of Manhattan. It can be reached by a quick, free ferry ride from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street (next the Staten Island Ferry) in lower Manhattan or from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Location: In the heart of New York Harbor, New York City, NY
Click to visit Governors Island official website.
Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with official website.