The Billion Oyster Project: Restoring New York Harbor and Getting to Know the Waterfront

Ask any New Yorker and they’ll happily tell you, they know a lot about a lot. Living in the cultural capital of the world provides exposure to museums, theaters, incredible food and restaurants, universities and the greatest forum of all – the busy city streets. All of these resources are possible in New York because of the diverse populations of 8+ million people (and growing!). But for better or worse, those 8+ million people in a relatively small area mean New Yorkers also know something about pollution.

The newly reclaimed waterfront, and the relatively new collective consciousness about pollution and climate change has begun to lead activists, as well as federal, state and local officials, to begin to clean up our polluted waterways.  One of the coolest and most innovative projects working to clean and restore New York Harbor is the Billion Oyster Project – something many New Yorkers know nothing about!

Governors Island is excited to be the home of the Billion Oyster Project (BOP).  The project is a long-term, large-scale plan to restore one billion live oysters to New York Harbor over the next twenty years.  Oyster reefs once covered more than 220,000 acres of the Harbor and provided massive ecological benefits including water filtration, wave attenuation and a habitat for thousands of marine species.  Over time, excessive harvesting and pollutants flowing into the waters around New York degraded the oyster population into extinction. As waterways around New York Harbor have started to become cleaner, oysters can once again survive in the Harbor waters. Unlike many marine animals however, they need human assistance to return.

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Recycled shells are used to create a growing medium for oysters and are the building blocks of new reefs.

The Billion Oyster Project is using aquaculture to cultivate millions of baby oysters and rebuild reefs where these oysters can grow.  At the Urban Assembly Harbor School, a public New York City School here on Governors Island, aquaculture and marine biology students oversee a hatchery and nursery where oysters are spawned and begin to grow. Once they are large enough, they are transferred by scientific diving students to reef structures built by engineering students on the floor of New York Harbor where they can continue to grow, reproduce and colonize new ground.  The BOP hopes that eventually this will lead to a self-sustaining oyster population and restoration of the habitat and the Harbor.

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Harbor School students at work on the BOP

Currently, 11 million oysters have been restored to New York Harbor by the students at the Urban Assembly Harbor School. Those oysters have filtered 19 trillion gallons of water, removing 6.75 million pounds of nitrogen from the Harbor. Only 989 million more oysters to go!

In addition to helping to restore the ecosystem of the Harbor and clean the East River, the BOP will help educate thousands of young people at the Harbor School in the process. Not only does the project provide and education in growing oysters or building an oyster reef, but more broadly it provides training for students in one of six (Aquaculture, Marine Biology Research, Marine Systems Technology, Ocean Engineering, Vessel Operation, and Scientific Diving) areas of marine science. These areas were carefully chosen to allow students to have a comprehensive understanding of the Harbor, the tides, how we use our waterways, and what is required for the restoration of the Harbor and estuary.

The skills the Harbor School students will learn through participation in the Billion Oyster Project will help them, the future leaders of New York, to understand the water, which is critical to understanding how to address rising tides, climate change and waterfront uses in the City.  New Yorkers know a lot, but in a post-Hurricane Sandy world, many are just starting to learn about what it means to live surrounded by water. The Billion Oyster Project is restoring a habitat and building a new generation of New Yorkers who know a lot about a lot more.

Lower Manhattan and the Harbor from Governors Island

Lower Manhattan and the Harbor from Governors Island

To learn more about the Urban Assembly Harbor School and the Billion Oyster Project (and donate!), check out their respective websites at https://www.newyorkharborschool.org/ and https://www.billionoysterproject.org/

American Society of Landscape Architects Honors Governors Island

Trust for Governors Island President Leslie Koch is honored at the ASLA's 100th Anniversary President's Dinner

Trust for Governors Island President Leslie Koch is honored at the ASLA’s 100th Anniversary President’s Dinner

Trust for Governors Island president Leslie Koch was honored on Thursday at the American Society of Landscape Architecture’s NY Chapter dinner. The ASLA recognized Leslie’s “dedication to transforming a valuable New York City waterfront asset into a world class destination.” Leslie was honored alongside Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin and New York 1 News.

The ASLA noted that Governors Island’s 30 new acres of park and public spaces, designed by West 8, are an “oasis in the middle of New York Harbor” that “will stand the test of time.”

A Look Back at Summer

Thank you to all the wonderful programming organizations and visitors that made the 2014 Public Season on Governors Island so special. We were open seven days a week, and we had more visitors and more events on the Island than ever before.

It is hard to believe that the Island closed already one month ago. In the meantime, the leaves have begun to change and New York City has fully embraced fall. On a day like today though, it is hard not to think of all the great times we had this summer.

Here is a look at some of our favorite summer moments. Share your favorites in the comments below!

Opening of the New Ball Fields on the South Island! 

The little league team gets ready for the game. Image courtesy of the Trust.

The little league team gets ready for the game. Image courtesy of the Trust.

At the southern end of the 30 acres of new park and public space opened to the public this year are two grass ball fields overlooked by the Statue of Liberty. The fields hosted pick-up soccer games, adult softball, and many little leagues all summer long. Did you have a chance to test them out?

Jazz Age Lawn Party 

The Jazz Age Lawn Party blew us all away once again. Image courtesy of Driely S - drielys.com.

The Jazz Age Lawn Party came dressed to impress. Image courtesy of Driely S – drielys.com.

Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra blew us away twice this summer. The Jazz Age Lawn Party, so perfectly placed among the early 1900’s houses in Colonels Row, brought some of the best dressed New Yorkers to Governors Island this summer. It was so good, even  Vogue Brazil’s covered it!

FIFA 2014 World Cup

Spontaneous Intervention created an official viewing area for the FIFA 2014 World Cup on Governors Island.

Spontaneous Intervention created an official viewing area for the FIFA 2014 World Cup on Governors Island. Image courtesy of Spontaneous Interventions.

For many, this summer was all about the World Cup. Thanks to Spontaneous Interventions, Governors Island was an official viewing area of the games. The US heart pounding games brought several thousand fans to the Island. We made it out of the group stages this time, and  in 2018 I believe that we will win!

The AIDS Memorial Quilt

A part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt was exhibited on Governors Island. Image courtesy of the Trust.

A part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt was exhibited on Governors Island. Image courtesy of the Trust.

For the first time in more than 10 years, the AIDS Memorial Quilt was on view in NYC on Governors Island. The Aids Memorial Quilt is a memorial to those who have died of AIDS. Today, it is made up of more that 48,000 3 by 6 foot panels that each memorialize the name of someone who has died of AIDS. The quilt was first begun in 1987 by a group in San Francisco, and today the project is continued by The Names Project Foundation.

The NYC Unicycle Festival 

The Unicycle Festival was back on Governors Island this summer. Image courtesy of the Unicycle Festival.

The Unicycle Festival was back on Governors Island this summer. Image courtesy of the Unicycle Festival.

What is more fun than riding a bike around Governors Island? Riding a unicycle! The NYC Unicycle Festival came to the Island in August, bringing with them unicycle basketball, unicycle piñatas, and workshops to teach newcomers how to ride unicycles.

Governors Island Art Fair

The Governors Island Art Fair showcased work by 100 artists in Colonels Row. Piece by Chaney Trotter, courtesy of Hyperallergic.com

The Governors Island Art Fair showcased work by 100 artists in Colonels Row. Artwork by Chaney Trotter, image courtesy of Hyperallergic.com

The 4 Heads Governors Island Art Fair was back on Governors Island this year during weekends in September. 100 artists transformed the houses in Colonels Row with innovative sculpture, paintings, video, sound installations, and other installation works. See more images of the fair at Hyperallergic.com.

We look forward to welcoming you all again next May! Until then, keep in touch with what is happening on Governors Island on our blog or head to our Facebook and Twitter pages!

If you are looking for more amazing photographs of Governors Island, head to our summer Tumblr page #yourgovisland.

Seniors from District 48 in South Brooklyn Visit Governors Island

A big thank you to Councilmen Chaim Deutsch and Age-Friendly NYC for organizing a trip to Governors Island for seniors from Councilmen Deutsch’s South Brooklyn district!

Half the group took a walking tour with the National Park Service, while the other half took a bus tour. Image courtesy of Age Friendly NYC.

Half the group took a walking tour with the National Park Service, while the other half went on a bus tour. Image courtesy of Age Friendly NYC.

The group of seniors, hailing from as far away as Brighton Beach, arrived together on two yellow school buses. For most, it was their first time visiting Governors Island. The National Park Service led the group on a tour of the historic districts. You can take your own historic tour with the NPS or through the Governors Island Alliance Phigital App before the Island closes this Sunday.

The group stayed for lunch in Liggett Terrace in the new park. Image courtesy of Age-Friendly NYC.

The group stayed for lunch in Liggett Terrace in the new park. Image courtesy of Age-Friendly NYC.

After the tour, the group enjoyed lunch on sunny Liggett Terrace. Everyone loved the beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty and the new park. Governors Island is a place made by and for New Yorkers, and we proud to have this group of New Yorkers here on the Island. Thank you again to Councilmen Deutsch for organizing this great event!

 

One More Week to Visit Governors Island!

The 2014 public season, which opened Governors Island to visitors seven days a week for the first time in history, is ending on September 28th.

That means you have exactly seven days left to take a trip to Governors Island!

Nine days left to bike in the new 30 acres of park on Governors Island. Image by Lexi Quint, courtesy of the Trust.

Nine days left to bike in the new 30 acres of park on Governors Island. Image courtesy of The Trust.

Governors Island this week will be filled with events and exhibitions to help you wrap up the summer season!

Ride a Bike with Free Bike Mornings! 

Enjoy free bikes on Governors Island for one more week! Free Bike Mornings allows visitors to borrow a bike for free for up to one hour on any weekday. Bikers will be able to enjoy miles of bike paths, including new paths in the 30 acres of park that look upon the Statue of Liberty. Visitors are also able to rent bikes or bring a bike on the ferry at no extra charge.

“A Portrait of Marina Abromovic” by Matthu Placek in Fort Jay  

Matthu Placek is making his New York debut of his 3D video portraits on Governors Island this week! The piece, ” A Portrait of Marina Abramovic” will be installed in Fort Jay from September 25th through the 28th. Shot in one take and without dialogue, these short films offer rare, uninterrupted moments with subjects as they interact with symbolic surroundings. 3D cinematography enhances the intimacy of the vignettes, further collapsing the space between the viewer and the subjects’ essential natures. Screenings are every 15 minutes to groups of 6 people by reservation. To make a free reservation please visit www.130919.eventbrite.com

LMCC Open Studios 

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The LMCC gallery exhibition ““Embodied Practice and Site-Specificity” about Trisha Brown’s Work. Image courtesy of The Trust.

Explore the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s many programs this week on Governors Island. In the LMCC gallery (building 110), you will find an exhibition on the work of Trisha Brown. Over in the St Cornelius Church, you can experience the development of Rachel Tess’s “Souvenir” during open studio hours every day this week (12PM-4PM). LMCC describes the performance: “the project investigates the relationships between architecture and choreography and choreographer and audience. The work more specifically explores the concept of a mobile architecture versus pre-existing institutional structures and how this design may impact the making and viewing of performance.” This coming weekend is the LMCC Open Studio Weekend. There will be art’s activities and open studios at four unique sites, including Governors Island. See more information here.

Hammocks and Food vendors!

This is your last chance to nap in a hammock and take a hammock selfie! With the weather forecast estimated to be 70 degrees all week, it is the perfect time to snuggle in Hammock Grove and maybe bring a book. Afterwards, stroll over to Kings Ave and Liggett Terrace to the many food vendors for a quick bite. Get a taste of Snowday and decide if they deserved their recent Vendy Award (p.s. they totally did). Then back to the hammocks to sleep off that Snowday maple grilled cheese!

September 27th Governors Island Kite Festival 

Bring your kites or make one during the Governors Island Kite Festival! Brooklyn Artery, CMA, and the Brooklyn Kite Fest are coming together to bring you a Governors Island Kite Festival. There will be music, refreshments and fun to be had for the whole family.  All activities are free. The festival will run from 11-4PM.

Explore Nolan Park

Explore everything that makes Governors Island great  by heading to Nolan Park. The historic area is the home to 19th century Army officers houses. Today, these faded yellow buildings become the summer home for many arts and cultural organizations. Find handmade items for sale at Brooklyn Artery or Better than Jam, or see exciting exhibits at the New York Historical Society house and the International Center of Photography gallery. See further information on the more than 12 organizations in Nolan Park here. 

The Governors Island Art Fair

Sabrina Barrios, “How to Build a Pyramid.” Image courtesy of Hyperallergic.com.

Sabrina Barrios, “How to Build a Pyramid.” Image courtesy of Hyperallergic.com.

The 4 Heads Governors Island Art Fair will be open one more weekend. Already reviewed by the NYTimes, ArtNET, Gothamist and more, the Governors Island Art Fair is not to be missed! Around 100 rooms within the historic buildings in Colonels Row have been transformed by paintings, sculptures, video and sound installations, and other installation works. The Governors Island Art Fair is run by artists and has recently headed to Kickstarter. 

Labor Day Weekend

Celebrate Labor Day Weekend on Governors Island with many fun and free activities!

Extra ferries will run on Labor Day. Image courtesy of the Trust.

Extra ferries will run on Labor Day from Brooklyn and Manhattan. Image courtesy of the Trust.

Come experience the many exciting activities on Governors Island! The Trust is extending ferry service on the half hour from Brooklyn and Manhattan through Monday because of the holiday. On Governors Island you can lay in a hammock, picnic, rent a bike, and enjoy delicious ice cream. There are also several special events happening on the Island this weekend.

Explore Nolan Scavenger Hunt 

The second Explore Nolan Scavenger Hunt is happening this Saturday. The historic yellow houses in Nolan Park become the home to many arts exhibitions and cultural organizations over the summer. Currently, there are over 12 different organizations within Nolan Park. You can find handmade gifts at the Brooklyn Artery and the Better Than Jam Pop-Up, or enjoy several group shows put on by The Sculptures Guild or the International Center of Photography.

Come explore the many exhibitions in Nolan Park this summer. Image courtesy of The Trust.

Come explore the many exhibitions in Nolan Park this summer. Image courtesy of The Trust.

The scavenger hunt asks you to answer questions about many of the exhibitions in Nolan Park. The 5 teams and 5 individuals who are the quickest to complete the hunt will win prizes given by organizations on the Island. Some of the prizes include free surrey rides from Blazing Saddles, photography catalogs from the International Center of Photography, and two tickets to a future Third Rail Productions performance.

You can download the clue sheet here , pick one up from the Governors Island Alliance Welcome stations at Soissons Landing or Yankee Pier, or download the new Governors Island Alliance Phigital Tour App on your phone and look for the Nolan Park Scavenger Hunt tour!

NYC Unicycle Festival 

For a truly unique experience, come to Governors Island this weekend for the NYC Unicycle Festival. The festival brings more than 300 unicycle enthusiasts together for fun activities and astounding events! A partial list of activities include races, competitions, exhibitions, and the unicycle sports. Come see unicycle basketball, hockey, sumo, and even unicycle double dutch!

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A little game of unicycle double dutch at the NYC Unicycle Festival. Image courtesy of The Trust.

World-famous riders will display their skills, and of course visitors to the festival will have an opportunity to try their feet at some one—wheel riding. Events on Governors Island are on Saturday-Sunday from 12pm – 5pm. See here for a full list of events.

 

 

Beatles, Bocce, and the Surprise House

Head to Governors Island this weekend for lawn bocce, a Vintage VW car show, and the Surprise House, a new installation in Nolan Park.

Recess: Bocce

Recess New York began in 2009 hosting fun recreational sports with a competitive spirit around New York City. Earlier this summer, Recess NY came to Governors Island brandishing badminton rackets and birdies.

They are back today with bocce balls on Colonels Row. Take part in some lawn bocce and enjoy the special food vendors Recess NY is bringing with them, including piping hot pizza from Neapolitan Express, delicious snacks from The Chia Co, and a wine and Tiger beer tent.

Join Recess New York for bocce on Governors Island Saturday the 23rd!

Join Recess New York for bocce on Governors Island Saturday the 23rd! Image courtesy of Recess New York.

The Surprise House

Something special is happening in House 7a in Nolan Park. Surprise Industries, a group that specializes in creating surprise, has taken over the historic house and transformed the interior. The group was able to create the installation with the help of their Kickstarter backers. In case you were wondering, you will not find any spoilers here! The exhibition is open weekends and is free to the public. Be ready to be surprised!

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Surprise Industries has transformed a house in Nolan Park with a unique purpose: to surprise the visitor! Image courtesy of the Trust.

 

 The VW Traffic Jam

This Sunday, the annual VW Traffic Jam is back on Governors Island. Proud owners of the vintage VW cars will be displaying their beautiful vehicles along the Liberty Promenade overlooking the Statue of Liberty. Spectators will judge the car show, which features nearly 100 Beatles, buses, dune buggies, and more. Come out tomorrow to picnic, explore Governors Island, and enjoy this free car show.

The VW Traffic Jam is an annual VW car show hosted on Governors Island and is free to attend.

The VW Traffic Jam is an annual VW car show hosted on Governors Island and is free to attend. Image from the 2011 VW Traffic Jam, courtesy of The Trust.

 

 

 

 

 

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