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Governors Island sits 800 yards off of Lower Manhattan and is even closer to Brooklyn

Governors Island, a 172 acre island in the heart of New York Harbor. It is a world unto itself, unique and full of promise.

For almost two centuries, Governors Island was a military base – home to the US Army and later the Coast Guard, and closed to the public. In 2003 the federal government sold 150 acres of Island to the people of New York, with the Island’s governance and funding jointly shared by the City of New York and State of New York. The remaining 22 acres of the Island was declared the Governors Island National Monument that is overseen by the National Park Service.

The City of New York is now responsible for Governors Island and created the Trust for Governors Island, the organization charged with the operations, planning and redevelopment of 150 acres of the Island.

The Trust is transforming Governors Island into a destination with great public open space, as well as educational, not-for-profit, and commercial facilities. Construction has been completed on 30 new acres of park and public spaces that opened for public use in May 2014. The new 30 acres include:

  • Liggett Terrace: a sunny, six acre plaza that features moveable seating, public art, water features and seasonal plantings
  • Hammock Grove: 10 acres with 1,500 new trees and hammocks
  • Play Lawn: 14 acres including lawn and two natural turf ball fields for play

In summer of 2013, we broke ground on the Hills, the next 10 acres of park and the crowning feature of the new public spaces. Made of recycled construction and fill materials, The Hills will rise 25 to 70 feet above the Island, and the summit of the tallest Hill will provide visitors with a 360-degree panorama of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and the Lower Manhattan skyline.

In addition to the completion of the new park spaces and construction of the Hills, The Trust has nearly completed an ambitious infrastructure program to ready the Island for expanded tenancy and activity. The Trust has also identified RFP finalists for tenancy in the Island’s historic buildings, which will help achieve the goal of making Governors Island an extraordinary public resource with a vibrant mix of uses and activities.

 About The Trust for Governors Island

The Trust for Governors Island is a nonprofit corporation created by The City of New York that is responsible for the redevelopment and operation of 150 acres of Governors Island.

The Trust’s mission is to transform Governors Island into a vibrant resource for New York City,  making this island at the center of New York Harbor a destination with extraordinary public open space, as well as educational, not-for-profit and commercial facilities. For more information visit govisland.com

57 Responses

  1. Hi!
    What’s the email for contacting HR at the Governors Island? I’ve used the one on the website but got an automatic reply…

  2. Hello!
    I am a student in NYU and I had written an email to the Trust for Governors Island but did not get a response, so I am writing here to see if I can get any sort of an advice.
    I was wondering if there are any agendas out for the next summer, and how the roadmap is being planned out at the moment – especially after the storm Sandy.

    I have a lot of questions but I will just leave it at that for the moment. Hope to hear back from you!



    • Hi Joseph,
      The summer schedule will come out in the spring time (around April) but with regard to Sandy, the Island did great. The future park and public spaces as well as the rest of the Trust’s property came through the storm unscathed. We lost a few trees and debris washed ashore, but everything looks good out here now. The great news about the new park and public spaces is that they were designed with climate change in mind – and raising the topography of the center of the Island proved to be a great strategy that will ensure a 21st century sustainable park.

  3. I lived on Governor’s Island when I was young and my father was in the Coast Guard, our home is still there, at least for now and as far as Google earth shows (not one of the high rises) it makes me sad to see the island this way but that is the military brat in me. I will be coming to take some pictures to put with my childhood pictures. The only difference will be the towers wont be there. Hope the island is treated w/ the respect it deserves. All the people who have come and gone from there gave of them selves to protect and serve this country.

  4. RE: Cat naming…. How about Ginger, after the sex kitten castaway from Gilligan’s Island?

  5. I read the New Yorker article about the island in August 2009 and have been intrigued ever since although I have not been able to visit yet (I live in Chicago). I would like to suggest that in the Calendar section you also provide the information in a monthly calendar format with links for more details. This would give people an instant snapshot of what is happening that particular week-end instead of having to go through the longer, overlapping list of dates.


    because the kitty probably crossed Buttermilk Channel to reach Governors Island.

  7. How can my husband and i adopt the Kitty
    that swam onto Govenors Island?
    Thank you.

  8. I think the name Oceana is fitting and beautiful…like this cat. For the past 4 years I have rescued cats and have helped to rehome them. Some have tragic storis of abuse and neglect; others just have Owners who are no longer able to care for them. I wish all the lost cats could have this much attention, but I don’t think this little beauty will have any trouble finding a permanent home now. Meantime, I still hope she already has an adoring family who is missing her terribly and will be overjoyed to find her well and alive.

  9. I believe she was sent there for a reason of the lord to help you and your island, She is very special, she will so you love understand how faith work with love from her she will teach you to love one another .. So do to the fact if she came from the sea she should be called a name from the sea.. cassy could go for castaway .. or go thur all the Disney movies sea what she like she will tell you what name she likes….. I know I done it with many of my older animals Plus good luck it is sad for me I lost my frosty a week ago praying for her return … love her well she will make you all very happy!!! your loveably animal love has been for 40 yrs !!!

    • She is such a beautiful cat. I think a good name for her would be Trixie. I wonder how old is the cat..

  10. I swear to GOD this is my lost cat!! We moved into a new place about a year and a half ago. She always was an outdoors cat. She would roam for weeks and come right back. This time she never returned and we were heartbroken always wondering what happened to her!! Her name is “Loca”. I can identify with scars she has and something in her eye. I have pics of her as a kitten. I’m trying to find some of her more grown up. She was abandoned when I found her as a kitten and took her in. Let me know who I can talk to to discuss identification. Thanx Ryan

  11. In honor of her refuge where the kitty swam to, why not name her Governess or “Nessy” for short? :0)

  12. An appropriate name for the kitty is Aphrodite, the goddess of love who sprang full grown from the foam of the sea.

  13. Is there a lost and found on Gov. Island? How to contact?

    • Yes we do have a lost and found. It is located in our security office in Building 140. You can call them at 212-809-3299.

  14. couldn’t find anyplace else to advise you of the change in my email address – can you change it from this venue? New email address: jfreeman63@charter.net

    • Hi Jeff,

      You actually have to unsubscribe and then re-subscribe. Let us know if you have any trouble!

  15. Hello G.I. blog:

    I am one of the Co-curators of Governors Island Art Fair.

    We know that we are a smaller fish on the island. But, could please include us on your blog and in your listings.

    Next weekend 26-27 is our closing reception.

    Here’s some info… Feel free to edit as you see fit.

    “As you know we will be holding our closing reception this Sunday, September 27th. The exhibition opens as usual at 11am and we hope you all can make it for the full day ending at 6pm. This is your last chance to meet the public who have been coming in droves of about 25,000 people each weekend to admire your work. We have had tons of press, gallerists, tourists and art lovers of all kinds in and out of each and every room and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Several articles have been written including Art in America & NY Post (full press is available at http://govsislandart.blogspot.com). A handful of decent sales have come through also.

    Also, we have show catalogues available. Just ask one of the 4heads. They are on sale for $20. All of the artists in the show are named in the catalogue. As well as “photo features” all artists that chose to send an image.

    So for the closing, we want to blow it up.

    We want to appeal to your most festive nature and ask that each and every one of you do something crazy and vivid, which will add to what is shaping up to be an already incredible event. We have live music (a band and solo musicians), performance art, a live painting battle, food, drinks, mask-making, the Layoff Bingo game, live portrait painting and we want more… We are all coming in costumes – from funny hats to full-on bizarre human parade floats – and we encourage you to do the same. Dress up crazy, do whatever you have to do to add to the color of the day.

    When we began talking about this event, loads of ideas came up. We want our artists to come out in full form – bringing to the table whatever insane and brilliant ideas you can all think of. Puppet shows, art making, men in dresses, goofy wigs, games for kids, sculptural performances, kite flying, basket weaving, empire building, maypole twirling, trumpet tooting, foot stompin down and dirty hootinanee shenanigans.

    All we are saying is lets make this a day to remember. And if anyone is in possession of a video camera PLEASE charge that sucker up and bring it by because we know this will be an amazing array of eye-candy to be revisited and belly-laughed at for years to come.”

    Thank you for the help.

    -Jack Robinson

    • Jack,
      We are huge fans of the 4 Heads and have your info on our website but we have added you to the blog roll as well as we hope as many visitors as possible come out to see the AMAZING work the 4 Heads have done in Building 12.

  16. why its called governors island i cant find any governor who work or live there?

  17. i understand there are free bikes on GI, but can we bring our own bikes, will they be allowed on the ferry and island?

    thank you!

  18. Governors Island will always be a safe haven for me. It was in the early 1960’s and I was stationed in the 38th Infantry Division, 3rd Army, Schweinfort Germany. I was 18 and pushed up my draft. Tired of school and working in the A&P on the night shift I went into the army. After more than a year in Germany my Father died and I was allowed home to attend his funeral. I tried to get reassigned back to the States because my family was having financial troubles and I wanted to be closer. I had a younger brother and sister and my Mother was not well. The Army, in there wisdom, reassigned me to fort Devins Massachusetts. When my leave was up I was broke, living in Queens and had no way to get to my new assignment. I went to Governors Island to see if they could help me get to my new assignment. I introduced myself to the Sargent Major and he asked me what I did in Germany. I told him I was in the Infantry and worked in Operations (S3). He picked up a magazine and asked me to type an article. I did and he he picked up the phone and changed my orders. I spent the rest of my time on the Island. I was sure it was paradise since we only worked five days a week compared to six plus in Germany and a lot of the time was in the field. Thanks Sarge and thanks for Governors Island for being there.

  19. are dogs allow on the island?

  20. Thank you, Ellen.

    (Ack. Sorry for all of the typos–previewing/editing comments would be nice for idiots like me.)

    I’ve been digging though the paperwork on the buildings. There seem to be a few more than 52 buildings north of Division Road, unless I’m miscounting. I was just wondering which buildings, exactly, are covered (or how they are counted, if I’m miscounting.)

    Yes, I’m delighted that there are so many exciting arts programs but I’m curious why it isn’t possible to, say, let some of those art groups, or other groups, rent semi-permanent office space on the Island. Once the HS opens, surely, there will be daily ferry service and some basic security/utilities services. Why not have a studio program similar to, say, the program that used to be run in unused floors of the WTC? The artists were okay with not-quite-to-code work spaces (they weren’t living there) and some access limitations, etc.

    • Thanks again for your interest in Governors Island. Actually, we do have a studio program in the works that will be run by the same people who operated the studios in the WTC and who continue to partner with vacant office buildings in Lower Manhattan. We announced in October that the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council was selected to open a year-round artist’s studio program in Building 110. Please see the press release for more information: http://www.govisland.com/Press_Room/10-20-08studios.asp.

      The studio program, along with the Water Taxi Beach slated to open later this summer, is part of our long term strategy to bring the Island back to life. You can also learn more about these efforts through the public presentations available on the GIPEC website: http://www.govisland.com/Get_Involved/public_meetings.asp

      Finally, you are correct that there are several non-historic structures in the Historic District. One of them, the old Super 8 motel, was cleared last year in consultation with preservation authorities, but there are no plans for demolishing any of the other non-historic buildings. You will find more answers to your questions about the Historic District in Appendices F and H of our 2006 Request for Proposals: http://www.govisland.com/About_GIPEC/preservation_rfp.asp.

  21. Is there an exact plan of the buildings on the island will be demolished? Not all of the buildings are protected by various landmarking/historic district projects, right? Even if the overall plans for the island are still unclear, I’d like to know which specific buildings are protected.

    Also, while I understand, I think, why it takes a long time to decomission overlapping military bases, and I’m sure more tenants/visitors it’s a pain for the current administration of the island, but why can’t some of the buildings be put to use. It costs money to run the buildings, yes–so, just lease them out to highest low-impact tenants. I’m sure a number of large rooms on the island are instantly rentable as galleries/concert halls/etc. and those will draw some visitors but why not use the existing buildings for, oh, dorms, schools, light manufacturing, city offices–lease to groups that are efficient on an island and transient enough to move on and off cheaply.

    • At the moment, there are no specific plans to demolish more buildings. The 92 acres north of Division Road, including 52 historic buildings, are a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Historic District. The Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC) is charged with their protection, and has stabilized their exteriors so that they do not deteriorate while waiting for permanent tenants.

      In the meantime, artists and art groups like Creative Time, the Children’s Museum of Art, the Sculptors Guild, and artists collectives like Figment and the 4 Heads have turned many of the historic buildings into summer art spaces and galleries. In addition, we announced in October that the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council was selected to open a year-round artist’s studio program in Building 110.

      For more information about all of the exciting arts programming on Governors Island visit http://www.govisland.com/Visit_the_Island/default.asp, and check back throughout the summer.

  22. Hi Michael:
    The historic buildings on the northern half of the Island will not be demolished; they are part of a national landmark and locally designated historic district. The Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC) is working to protect and preserve them. GIPEC is also developing a master plan for 87 acres of park and public spaces on the Island that includes the respectful restoration of the historic landscapes of the Historic District. Thank you for your service and your continued interest in Governors Island.

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