Governors Island

History Promotion
Dutch colonists were the first Europeans to occupy Governors Island. When the British gained control of New York, the island was moderately used for military operations. During the American Revolution, George Washington's forces used the island's natural geography to wage successful warfare against the British naval fleet. Under American control, Governors Island was utilized for coastal defense purposes. Castle Williams and Fort Jay stand as reminders of the island's important role in the nation's early fort system. Today, Governors Island is a hub for recreation, culture, sightseeing and entertainment.


The most prominent structure on Governors Island is Fort Jay, which has a traditional star-shaped layout that was commonly used in defensive works during the 18th and 19th centuries. This fortification was constructed to protect the New York Harbor from potential invasions by British forces seeking revenge for the loss of the American Revolutionary War. Named after a governor of the state of New York, Fort Jay still stands today as one of the best-preserved military defense systems of its kind in the United States. Having a circular configuration, Castle Williams is another notable fort on Governors Island. This structure was built in the years leading to the War of 1812 with Great Britain. After this major campaign, Castle Williams was converted into a small prison. Click to book your Governors Island walking tour.

Activities and Events

Featuring serpentine trails and roads, Liggett Terrace and Hammock Grove offer wonderful recreational opportunities for the entire family. The Play Lawn, Oval and Hills also have plenty of open space for fun outdoor activities. For example, several ball fields are located at the Play Lawn, and the Outlook Hill has elevated observation points overlooking the New York Harbor. Occupying the southwestern tip of Governors Island, Picnic Point offers unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and many other waterfront installations in NYC. Some notable events that are held at the island include the River to River Festival, Pumpkin Point, Civil War Weekend and Jazz Age Lawn Party.


Occupying the tip of southern Manhattan, the Battery Maritime Building offers convenient access to Governors Island. Operating on a seasonal schedule, ferries go between this historic terminal and Soissons Landing on the northern edge of the island. Vessels that are part of the NYC Ferry system also stop at the Yankee Pier and Pier 102. For example, Yankee Pier is an intermediate point for commuters traveling between Brooklyn and Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. Once you arrive at Governors Island, you'll have to explore the grounds by foot or on a bicycle. Multiple rental kiosks offer various types of bicycles for rent based on hourly and daily rates. Part of New York City's public bicycle-sharing program, the Citi Bike is also available at the island. Nearly all of the trails on the island are fully paved with concrete or asphalt, so you can enjoy a smooth ride on a bike or stroll. Running along the perimeter of Governors Island, Craig Road is primarily reserved for service vehicles and other official use.
Governors Island

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