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Governors Island



Upper New York Harbor. Open in Google maps.


Visit the Trust for Governors Island for information on the ferry from Manhattan and Brooklyn.


The island is open to visitors during the summer season.


The Governors Island ferry and all paths are wheelchair accessible.


Are pets allowed?


Governors Island (NPS), 212-825-3045
Trust for Governors Island, 212-440-2200


Castle Clinton
Ellis Island
Statue of Liberty

National Park Service arrowhead

Governors Island

A 172-acre island—and former military base—nestled between Manhattan and Brooklyn

Located in the shadow of the modern New York City skyline, Governors Island is the oldest European settlement in New York. A former U.S. Army military base and U.S. Coast Guard station, 92 acres of the island are open to the public during the summer. A short ferry ride from Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn will get you there to picnic, bike and enjoy gorgeous views as well as a wide array of cultural activities. See the Governors Island calendar for a schedule of events.

Governors Island is managed jointly by the National Park Service (NPS) and the Trust for Governors Island. NPS administers the 22 acre national monument within a larger National Historic Landmark District, which showcases two forts from the early 19th century and the remainder of the island is administered by the Trust.

The two forts, Fort Jay and Castle Williams, were a key part of the inner harbor defense network that was constructed in the early 19th century to protect New York City from naval attack. Colonel Jonathan Williams, the chief engineer of the Army Corps of Engineers, designed the castle that would bear his name, and also oversaw the construction of Castle Clinton in Battery Park, Fort Wood (now the star-shaped base of the Statue of Liberty) and the former Fort Gibson on Ellis Island.

Castle Williams is a circular red sandstone fort, built between 1807 and 1811. The fort imprisoned Confederate soldiers during the Civil War and then continued as a low security military prison until 1965. Fort Jay is a star-shaped fort, with a rare dry moat. The open courtyard in the interior is surrounded by former Army and Coast Guard barracks dating from the 1830s.

Today, a trip to Governors Island transports visitors to a historic military village and a tranquil scenic playground just a few minutes from Manhattan. Wander through the forts and military homes, ride your bike along the paved path that encircles the island or settle in for a picnic on the parade ground; no matter what the trip entails visitors will be treated to some of the best views in the city.

Things to Do

Special Events in June


6/6-7, 10am-6pm

Join an inclusive two-day participatory arts event where you will find works in sculpture, installation, performance, music, workshops, games, social experiments, and heart-stopping technological innovations.

Jazz Age Lawn Party

6/13-14, 11am-5pm, Colonels Row

Take part in the 10th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party with thousands of likeminded fans, to discover authentic music from the 1920s and 1930s, learn the hottest dance steps of the time and enjoy sophisticated bites and vintage-inspired cocktails.

RECESS Badminton

6/20, 12-5pm, Colonel's Row

Join RECESS as they return to Colonel's Row for their infamous outdoor badminton challenge featuring 32 organizations battling for the title of New York City's supreme team. Day includes guest deejays, food vendors and a beer/wine tent and a few public courts.

Rite of Summer: House of Water

6/20, 1pm & 3pm, Nolan Park

Hear this innovative three-person ensemble embrace the multi-layered sounds of the world. All virtuosos in their own right, the band consists of Max ZT (hammered dulcimer), Moto Fukushima (six-string electric bass), and Shane Shanahan (percussion). For more information visit Rite of Summer.

Wild Governors

6/26, 27 & 28, 3pm or 3:30pm, Parade Ground

See Emmanuelle Huynh-Company Mua Cribles/Wild, a "May Pole" dance with ten local choreographed dancers exploring the simple, archaic form that often serves as a vehicle for celebrations, rites and rituals. Originally premiered outdoors in 2010, it will be performed to Iannis Xenakis' Persephassa for six percussionists.

Catherine Galasso's Fall of the Rebel Angels: X

6/26, 27 & 28, 1pm or 5pm Building 19A, Nolan Park

Come see Fall of the Rebel Angels: X, an evening-length interdisciplinary work for five performers loosely inspired by the Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. The tenth iteration of Fall of the Rebel Angels, it will combine content generated for previous studies with new scenes inspired by Nolan Park's former military housing units.

Other Activities

Biking, sight-seeing, picnicking, art, history, architecture and concerts. See Governors Island calendar for more.