Last weekend, I took the 5-minute ferry ride from Manhattan to Governors Island for Fête Paradiso. It was my first time visiting the island and I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t know much about it.
Governors Island is located about a half mile from the southern end or Lower Manhattan. The island is 172 acres, a mile long, and a quarter of a mile wide.
New York’s Native Americans had called the island Paggank or ‘Nut Island,’ for the number of oak, hickory and chestnut trees there. The Dutch also called it Nut Island but during the British colonial period it was reserved exclusively for use for New York’s royal governors and renamed Governors Island in 1784.
Governors Island served as a military base and Coast Guard installation for more than 200 years. During that time, it was off limits to the public.
There are three historic forts on the island. Two – Fort Jay and Castle Williams – were named National Monuments in 2001.
Governors Island became part of New York, legally, in 2003 when the federal government transferred the island to the City and State of New York. The City, through the Trust for Governors Island, is responsible for the operation, planning and redevelopment of the island.
Mayor Bloomberg, the current mayor, has earmarked $250 million to make Governors Island into a public open space with educational, not-for-profit, and commercial facilities.
Governors Island is open from Memorial Day to the end of September and hosts a variety of free artistic and cultural events during the season. In addition to Fête Paradiso, the day I went, there was an art exhibit in several of the historic houses on Nolan Row as well as handmade gifts and personal items like T-shirts, hats, scarves, etc., available for sale.
Governors Island is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Holiday Mondays and private events such as weddings, family reunions, picnics, and corporate outings can be held there.
No alcohol can be taken to the island. However, alcohol can be purchased at designated areas. Barbequing, cooking and grilling are also not permitted.
Governors Island is accessible by ferry only; no private vehicles are allowed. Ferry service is available from Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan and from Brooklyn and Queens.
Governors Island is a charming oasis with incredible views of Manhattan. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon bike riding, walking or just relaxing.
Linking up with Travel Photo Mondays which Noel at Travel Photo Discovery organizes.