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 daily in 2014 from 5/24 to 9/28.
The Governors Island ferry and all paths are wheelchair accessible.
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 August
Rite of Summer Music Festival
8/9, 1pm and 3pm, , Colonels Row
American and Argentine Sounds from Ives to Piazzolla featuring ROS Co-Founder & pianist Pam Goldberg, violinist Esther Noh, cellist Caitlin Sullivan and soprano Allison Charney. Visit riteofsummer.com for more information.
8/24, 12-5pm, Colonels Row
Join RECESS for a day of bocce competition. Festivities include free bike rides, food vendors, a beer/wine tent and guest deejays. A few courts open to the public. Visit recessnewyork.com for more information.
The NYC Volkswagen Traffic Jam
Enjoy a spectator-judged vintage Volkswagen car show and picnic. This vibrant line-up of original VW's circa 1950's—1970's is a one-of-a-kind event for both casual spectators and classic VW enthusiasts. Visit nycvolkswagentrafficjam.com for details.
NYC Unicycle Festival
8/30 & 8/31, 12pm
Join enthusiasts for unicycle activities including riding competitions, exhibitions, basketball, hockey and sumo. Watch world-famous cyclists compete and try one-wheel riding in the learning area. Visit nycunifest.com for more information.
Biking, sight-seeing, picnicking, art, history, architecture and concerts. See Governors Island calendar for more.