Governors Island, the car-free oasis in Upper New York Bay.


Ferry to the island

There are    more than    two dozen    islands     around the five boroughs of New York City, excluding the big three—Manhattan, Staten Island and Long Island. The 172-acre Governors Island—just off the southern tip of Manhattan is one of the largest and most historical of these islands.


Governors Island, approximately 800 yards (732 m) from the southern tip of Manhattan, has it all: historic mansions, fort and castle, beautifully landscaped gardens, children's play area, amazing views, concerts and other events.Photo ops  literally around every corner.
The island is ranked N 45 among 855 New York Attractions by Tripadvisor
It is a perfect place to  get away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown for just 2 dollars in 10 minutes! 
I visited the island a week ago and was really amazed how beautiful it is!  

The Wall Street Journal wrote several days ago:"Its reclamation and transformation are being hailed as a grand experiment, and it is an upbeat story as long as both current and future administrations commit to the long view in addressing the very real challenges to its continued success and integration into the life of the city".

The history of the island is really fascinating. In 1513 1524, Giovanni de Verrazzano saw the island, becoming the first European to do so. At that time it was called  Paggank (Island of Nuts). 
The New York State Senate and Assembly have recognized Governors Island as the birthplace, in 1624, of the state of New York. In 1664 ( New York was New Amsterdam before this year)  the English  took the  Island, which had been left unfortified by the Dutch. 
In  1784 the island was renamed Governors Island -in early times  it was  reserved by the British colonial assembly for the exclusive use of New York's royal governors. From 1783 to 1966, the island was a United States Army post. 
Before the early 20th century the size of the island was less than one  third of the modern size.  About 100 acres were added by 1912 using and dirt from the excavations for the Lexington Avenue Subway.  From 1966 to 1996 the island served as a major United States Coast Guard installation. 
Governors Island has served as the backdrop for a number of historic events. In 1986, the island was the setting for the relighting of the newly refurbished Statue of Liberty by President Ronald Reagan. In 1988, President Reagan hosted a U.S.-U.S.S.R. summit with Mikhail Gorbachev on Governors Island, and in 1993, the United Nations sponsored talks on the island to help restore democratic rule in Haiti.
 On January 19, 2001, two of the island's three historical fortifications, were proclaimed a National Monument, and on the same month  150 acres (61 ha) of the island was transferred to the State and City of New York for $1.  Today, the northern part of the island  is a historic district with 52 landmark buildings, including stately officers' quarters known as Colonels Row built in the 19th century, a 350,000-square-foot barracks, an infirmary and a stockade.

The island is accessible by the ferry located in downtown to left from the Staten Island ferry in The Battery Maritime Building. The Beaux-Arts building was built in the beginning of the 20th century  and was used by ferries traveling to 39th Street in Brooklyn till 1938. In 1956, the U.S. Army began use of the terminal to provide service to an Army post, Fort Jay on Governors Island. Starting from  1966 till 1996 the United States Coast Guard used the terminal.  Between 2001 and 2005, in a 36 million dollar renovation,  the  building was restored. Ferry  run all seven days from 10 AM till 6 PM. 
There is also a ferry from Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6 on Saturdays, Sundays, Memorial Day and Labor Day. If you plan to visit the island on a weekend- try to take the first ferry- lines could be really long! 

If you plan to  visit the Governors Island on a weekday and plan to spend the whole day on the island, you can park your car  on a Brooklyn Army Terminal for free, then take a ferry at 10 AM  to Pier 11/Wall street. There is a nice 10 minute walk from  Pier 11 near Wall street  to the Governor Island ferry.  

 If you are an early bird and are lucky to be free on a weekday you  may  enjoy  Free Bike Mornings, a new program this year that  allows visitors to borrow a bike for free for up to one hour every weekday between 10 AM and noon.