Governors Island is a small island south of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It opens to the public year-round, offering several cultural activities and events.
History of Governors Island
We have to go back to the 17th century when the island was a hunting and fishing territory. In the language of the Algonquin, the island was called “the island of nuts” (Paggananck), and the first Dutch to settle down kept the name “Nutten Island.”
When the English took the city of New York, the island was populated only by the Governors of NY. This explains the change of its name to Governors Island in 1784. From 1755, the British armed forces used the island as a military defense center. It was the island’s function for more than 200 years.
Fort Jay and Castle Williams were built between 1796 and 1811 to protect the city of New York. During the Civil War, Castle Williams was a prison.
In 1901 the island was enlarged with debris collected from the construction of the metro on Lexington Avenue to make an airfield.
In 1939, the American armed forces established their headquarters on the island. The US Coast Guard occupied the island from 1966 to 1996.
Under pressure from New Yorkers who wanted to return the island to the public, Bill Clinton declared Fort Jay and Castle Williams National Monuments in 2001. President George W. Bush adopted the same policy by handing the island over to the National Park Service and the Trust for Governors Island organization.
The public could access the island recently, enjoying rest spaces and participating in cultural events. The skyline of New York, New Jersey, and Brooklyn make the landscape even more pleasant and beautiful.
What to do in Governors Island?
The island is now open year-round, since September 2021.
It is a real recreational space with cycle tracks, parks, and urban hiking trails.
Games and activities for children.
You can rent bicycles, tandems, and more.
To eat, I’m sure they’ll find a food truck around.
You can also improvise a picnic.
Do not miss the opportunity to visit the two National Monuments Fort Jay and Castle Williams, to learn a little more about the history of New York.
How is the island?
It is a very nice place, nice and clean. There are many red brick houses. Some will find the architecture of Great Britain; other houses look like Holland … It’s a charm! It is also a perfect place on a hot summer day.
There are other typical houses like this one:
The best thing is the view over Brooklyn, the Statue of Liberty, New Jersey and obviously Manhattan as you can see in the following photo.
How to access Governors Island?
The island is open:
– Sunday to Thursday from 7 am to 6 pm,
– Friday and Saturday from 7 am to 10 pm.
The only way to get there is by boat.
From Manhattan you can leave from Battery Maritime Building (at Battery Park) and get to Soissons Landing (Governors Island):
– the ferry departs every 30 minutes from 7 am to 4.15 pm.
From Brooklyn on Saturdays and Sundays, you may go to Pier 6 (Brooklyn Bridge park) and arrives at Yankee Pier (Governors Island):
– The ferry leaves at 10.15 am and then every hour until 5:15 pm.
From Brooklyn on weekdays, you may go to Red Hook/Atlantic Bassin and arrives at Yankee Pier (Governors Island):
– The ferry leaves at 9.45 am and then every hour until 4.45 pm.
The NYC Ferry also lands at Governors Island on Saturdays and Sundays.
How much does the ferry cost?
Departing from Manhattan or Brooklyn, the round-trip fare is:
– Adults and over 12 years old: $4
– Seniors (American citizens): free
– Under 12 years old: free
Why should you visit Governors Island?
The best thing is that you can access the island for only $4. It is nothing compared to certain activities in New York.
Be careful because during the afternoons of Saturday and Sunday, there are many people, and since there are not many ferries, you could be waiting for a long time at the dock.
The best about this place is the view over New York and its surroundings. In addition, they often organize special events. The most famous event is the Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party, a festival of jazz music of the 1930s style.
The day I visited the island there were many games for children who seemed very happy!
Where is Governors Island?
Governors Island is located south of Manhattan and Brooklyn on the East River.
If you want to get away from the New York frenzy without spending hundreds of dollars and in a short time, I recommend that you go for a stroll on Governors Island. You can do various cultural activities or simply rest in one of the parks.
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