Thank you, and our apologies

Thank you to all of our visitors who made opening weekend a record breaker for Governors Island. And thank you to the Governors Island Alliance for the best Family Festival we have ever had. And thank you Mother Nature for bringing summer to New York so early! We were delighted that New Yorkers came out in force to enjoy hammocks, art, bikes and more.

On Governors Island, we work very hard to make sure that all our visitors are happy with their visit. We understand that this past Sunday, we fell short of reaching that goal, and we apologize.  Visitors experienced long lines and some of you let us know that we could have done a better job managing lines and communicating with you.

We are committed to doing better. We have improved our line management and will now update you via Twitter all weekend long so you have up to date information about ferry lines and schedules. Be sure to follow us @Gov_Island.

Governors Island is for you. We want all New Yorkers to have a great visit here and to come back. And for that reason, if you were unable to come to the Island last weekend because of ferry lines or if your visit didn’t measure up to what you expect from us, your next ferry to the Island is on us.

Email us @ with the number of people in your group and we will send you a coupon for a free visit. (Please note we monitor the email box Monday-Friday from 9 AM – 5 PM). You can also tweet us or email us at  with your feedback. If you want to reach Leslie Koch, President of the Trust, directly feel free to email her @

Thank you to all of you who have made Governors Island the lively and loved place it has become. We look forward to welcoming you back soon.

It’s Opening Weekend on Governors Island

It’s Opening Weekend on Governors Island

We can’t wait to welcome you back to Governors Island this Saturday, May 23! There are lots amazing programs and events, yummy food, plus our 30 acres of park that opened last year.  We’ll be open 7 days a week again this year, allowing more opportunities to visit your local Island oasis.

Mr. Softee on Governors Island, photo courtesy of @iknowtomchang from the #capturegovisland Instagram competition last year

Mr. Softee on Governors Island, photo courtesy of @iknowtomchang from the #capturegovisland Instagram competition last year

Our summer events calendar is on view here, and you can get a “taste” of some of the food that’s available this summer. Below are some of the great events to look forward to in May

The Opening Day Family Festival: Sunday, May 24, noon – 4 PM in Nolan Park
The Governors Island Alliance’s Family Festival is back again this year!  The festival will feature puppet-making, the NY Aquarium, the Central Park Zoo Wildlife Theater, flower planting, live music, face painting and more!

Governors Island Alliance Family Festival 2013

Governors Island Alliance Family Festival 2013

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Open Studios with Artists in Residents: Saturday & Sunday, May 23 – 24, 12 – 5 PM in Building 110

Do you know any real life artists? Now is your chance to meet a few. Visit with visual and performing artist and writers who have been working in the Arts Center on Governors Island since March. You’ll get a behind the scenes look at the work of 20 multi-disciplinary artists and their studios.

The Dysfunctional Collective, Saturdays and Sundays, noon – 5 PM, Building 8B in Nolan Park

The Dysfunctional Theater Company turns one of the Nolan Park houses into a grab box of art, poetry, dance, theater and song! Each week will feature new work, usually with a focus on Governors Island and NYC. Come by to explore, have your picture taken, hear a song, or see a short play.

photo courtesy of The Dysfunctional Theatre

photo courtesy of The Dysfunctional Theatre

Free Bike Mornings, every weekday from 10 AM – noon

Borrow a bike for free for up to one hour from Blazing Saddles on Colonels Row.

See the Hills Hard Hat Tour, Saturday, May 23, 12 PM, Meet at the Liggett Hall Arch

See Governors Island and New York Harbor from a breathtaking vantage point 50 feet in the air. Climb to the top of Outlook Hill, the tallest of four man-made hills now under construction, and learn about what it takes to create extreme new landforms.

The Hills on Governors Island Jane’s Walk hard hat tour, photo courtesy of CurbedNY

The Hills on Governors Island Jane’s Walk hard hat tour, Photo by Jessica Dailey from the Curbed article “The Hills are Coming to Life on Governors Island”

OutdoorFest’s Adventure Day: Sunday, May 30, Colonels Row

Looking for a free outdoor adventure!  Look no further! The day starts with yoga, followed by outdoor fitness classes, field day games and wilderness skills demo.

Outdoor Fest

Practicing yoga in the grass, photo courtesy of Outdoorfest

Rite of Summer Concert, Saturday, May 30 1 PM and 3PM, Nolan Park

 Baritone John Brancy and pianist Peter Dugan present an afternoon of vocal music by Gershwin, Dvorak, Berstein, Chopin and the Beatles.

Of course, this is just a small sampling of things happening on Governors Island our first two weekends.  Plus, we’ll see returning events like Figment NYC, the Jazz Age Lawn Party, RECESS, City of Water Day, and the Unicycle Festival later in the season. And don’t forget about all the awesome season-long ongoing programs in the Nolan Park houses.

Check out our calendar for full listings of special events and ongoing programs. Keep checking back, we’re adding new events all the time.

Hard Hats on High: See the Hills on Governors Island

Join us this Saturday, May 23rd (OPENING DAY!!) for a hard hat tour of the Hills on ‪#‎GovernorsIsland‬. You’ve heard about ’em, now come check out their views. Meet at Liggett Arch at 12 p.m.

Hard Hat Tour as part of MAS’s Janes Walk earlier this month Photo by Jessica Dailey from the Curbed article “The Hills are Coming to Life on Governors Island”

Welcome Max, the Governors Island Working Dog!

Here on Governors Island we work really hard to make sure we achieve 100% visitor satisfaction. Over the past few seasons, a number of visitors have noticed goose droppings on our lawns, especially in the beautiful new park. As we get ready for the new season, as we always do, we vacuum our lawns. In addition, this year, we also brought on Max! Max’s job is to make the Island a more enjoyable place for our human visitors by making it less attractive to Canada geese.

Max is the newest member of the Governors Island team and was adopted by our Director of Park and Public Space, Jim Reed! Max is a five year old rescued Border Collie. While dogs and other pets aren’t allowed on Governors Island unless they are service animals, Max is a working dog.

Taking the view of Lower Manhattan next to Building 114

Taking the view of Lower Manhattan next to Building 114

While Canada geese can be lovely to look at, they leave a mess (they eat up to four pounds of grass a day and leave over a pound of waste per goose!), and can be aggressive toward people when they are nesting.  To ensure the enjoyment and safety of visitors, as well as the safety of the geese, Jim brought Max on board. Reducing the goose population also helps our overall efforts to create wildlife habitats and increase ecological diversity on the Island in the form of terns, owls, kestrels, peregrine falcons, song birds etc., as well as a variety of flourishing plant life.

Border Collies are trained to herd and discourage the geese from hanging out, but they will never harm the animals. In fact, Border Collies are recommended by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Humane Society due to their highly evolved herding instincts. Jim spent six months searching and consulting with about a dozen professional dog handlers, breeders and trainers before he adopted Max in January 2015 from the Mid Atlantic Border Collie Rescue Program in Maryland (

Border Collies, including Max, tend to be type “A” personalities that require challenging jobs in order to be happy dogs. They love training, rules and order, and they are well tempered, wonderful companions to boot!

Here on Governors Island Max gets to work all day.  He loves his job so much that he does victory rolls whenever he clears a flock from a field! He’ll continue to work herding throughout the season. He’ll focus his attention on grassy surfaces to allow you to picnic and play sports without having to worry about goose waste.

In addition to his love of herding, Max loves people. Jim trained him to be an official Governors Island greeter and help welcome people to this Island. So, while you’re visiting Governors Island this summer you’re sure to see Max at work wearing his bright orange work vest. Feel free to take a picture, and if he’s not actively herding, say hi! Max and the rest of the Governors Island team can’t wait to see on May 23!

Fifty Feet and Climbing!

The Hills continue to rise on Governors Island!  As you know, three of our four hills, (Grassy, Slide and Discovery) are already at their rough grade (aka their approximate height before adding soil for planting grass, trees and other vegetation).  Each will offer a different experience to park goers. Grassy Hill will provide unobstructed views of the new park and a gentle grassy slope, perfect for watching baseball games below. Slide Hill will have a fun, family friendly play-space with climbing structures and slides of differing heights embedded into the landscape. Discovery Hill will offer a leisurely path through nature and incorporate public art by the artist Rachel Whiteread into the landscape.

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West 8 rendering of the Grassy Hill slope overlooking the Play Lawn 

2012-04-24 17.09.21

West 8 rendering of the Slide Hill play area

2012-09-24 17.46.18

West 8 rendering of a wooded path on Discovery Hill

Finally Outlook Hill, the tallest of the four hills, is still under major construction.  We hit the 50 foot height mark last week, but still have a ways to go! When Outlook is complete it will tower 70 feet over the promenade, providing unmatched views of Lower Manhattan and the New York Harbor.


Outlook Hill in progress


Moving earth to build Outlook Hill


View of Lady Liberty from the top of Outlook Hill at 45 feet


Lady Liberty between Discovery and Outlook Hills


A foggy look at Lower Manhattan, New Jersey, and Outlook Hill from the top of Discovery Hill

When they are complete, the hills will be the centerpiece of the spectacular West 8 designed park on Governors Island, and a new landmark and destination for New York! Check out our awesome visualization of the creation of the Hills:

Putnam & Putnam: Visitors to Governors Island

Our visiting snowy owl has a name, thanks to Governors Island fan, Brooklyn based author and “sass machine” Kristen Bonardi Rapp! His name is Putnam, after General Israel Putnam who helped fortify Governors Island in advance of the Battle of Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War. Learn more about General Putnam and the Battle of Brooklyn below:


Putnam the snowy owl “chillin” in the new park on Governors Island.

After the Siege of Boston, the British set their sites on NYC, with plans to station their navel force on Staten Island. A few days after the British began landing on Staten Island, word reached New York that the U.S. Congress had voted for independence. A mob of excited patriot New Yorkers quickly tore down the statue of King George III in Bowling Green. They mounted the head of the statue a spike outside a tavern, and turned the rest into musket balls to fight the British.

General Putman, know as “Old Put”, was George Washington’s right hand man in New York. He had already begun work to fortify the Harbor prior to the arrival of the British, but stepped up his efforts in 1776. Fortifying Governors Island, was a major focus for Old Put because control of the island dictated control of the mouth of the East River and access to the east side of Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights.  Putnam, along with 1,000 men constructed an earthen works fort roughly where Fort Jay is located today. By the start of the battle, the Continental Army had major fortifications on Governors Island, in Red Hook, in Brooklyn Heights, and in the Battery of Manhattan.

General Israel "Old Put" Putnam

General Israel “Old Put” Putnam

Despite the fortification, Generals Washington and Putnam were badly outnumbered and the British gained control of New York City.  When the United States regained control of the city at the end of the Revolutionary War, one of the very first things the new United States government did was fortify New York Harbor, formally beginning the long military history of Governors Island.

fort jay

A view of modern Fort Jay from above

A big thanks to Kristen (who, fun fact, is distantly related to General Putnam!), and to all the the @Gov_Island twitter followers who suggested names for Putnam! Happy Friday!

The Tallest of Them All: Progress on Outlook Hill

You know we are working hard on the next phase of the new park on Governors Island – The Hills! But first, a little background for those of you who may not remember:

The Hills are the next phase of the new park and open space. You might recall we knocked down some old, derelict buildings on the South Island to make way for them (check out this awesome visualization of the building demo and Hills construction for a refresher). When they are complete, the Hills will highlight the transformation that has taken place south of Liggett Hall. Ranging up to 70 feet in height with panoramic views of New York Harbor, the four Hills (Grassy, Slide, Discovery and Outlook) will be a place in New York unlike any other. In addition to the spectacular views, the Hills pay homage to the lush, hilly landscapes of pre-colonial Manhattan, and will fortify the Island’s resiliency in the face of rising sea levels.

Currently, we are working on building Outlook Hill, the tallest of the four.  We are placing the heavy and lightweight fill (dirt and pumice), which makes up the substance of the Hill. In fact, we have placed so much fill that Outlook is already 20 feet tall –that’s more than ¼ of the way there!


Discovery Hill from the top of the Outlook site.


A view of our hard working construction team building Outlook Hill in the snow.

We know you like options so we have also begun work on our “Granite Scramble”, one of the coolest features on Outlook Hill. Once the scramble is built and the Hills are open to the public, you’ll have the option to meander up Outlook on one of the paths, or to “scramble” (aka climb) up the granite that will run up one side of the Hill.

Granite Sorting 2015_01

Sorting granite blocks in preparation to build the “Granite Scramble” on Outlook Hill.

To get an idea of what the Hills will look like when they are finished, check out these spectacular renderings of The Hills by West 8.


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