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Governors Island

VISITOR INFORMATION

LOCATION

Upper New York Harbor. Open in Google maps.

GETTING THERE

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

HOURS

The island is open daily in 2014 from 5/24 to 9/28.

ACCESSIBILITY

The Governors Island ferry and all paths are wheelchair accessible.

PETS

Are pets allowed?

CONTACT

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

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

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 July

The City of Water Day Festival

7/12, 10am-4pm

Celebrate our waterfront and its potential with this annual day of entertainment, education and adventure. Enjoy free boat tours, children's activities, fishing, the Waterfront Activity Fair, and more! For details visit www.cityofwaterday.com.

Rite of Summer presents New York Harbor to the World

7/13, 1–3pm, Colonels Row

Rite of Summer collaborates with New York Philharmonic's Very Young Composers program, in presenting an afternoon of world premieres inspired by New York City and its multicultural, multifarious history. Featuring renowned ensembles ETHEL and Iktus Percussion performing seven brand new compositions by children from the Philharmonic's VYC program, two world premieres by NY Philharmonic teaching artist-composers Justin Hines and Angélica Negrón, and a few other musical surprises along the way.

New York City Poetry Festival

7/26 & 27, 11am-5pm

The Poetry Society of New York will once again invite New Yorkers to come together for this two-day festival to celebrate NYC's vibrant poetry community. The event will include over 60 poetry organizations and 250 poets on its three stages; a Vendor's Village where local booksellers, artists and craft makers will sell their wares; a beer garden sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery; healthy and delicious food options; poetic installation art throughout, the Ring of Daisies open mic; and last but not least, the Children's Poetry Festival, complete with writing games and its own fourth, all-kids stage.

Other Activities

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