Share Your Building 877 Memories

Building 877 in 2004 by Lisa Kereszi

Building 877 in 2004 by Lisa Kereszi

This Sunday, June 9th at precisely 7:36am, we will be imploding the largest building on Governors Island, Building 877.  This controlled demolition will clear space for over 30 acres of new park and public spaces. If you’d like to watch the implosion in real time, it can be seen from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, the Battery in New York City, or from the 7:30am Staten Island ferry leaving from Manhattan! We will also be livestreaming the implosion on this blog and through our youtube channel. Check back for more details later today.

Building 877 was constructed atop the landfill from the excavation from the Lexington Avenue subway line in 1905. With the consolidation of U.S. Military forces in 1966, the Island was transferred to the Coast Guard. Governors Island was the Coast Guard’s largest installation, serving both as a self-contained residential community, with an on-island population of approximately 3,500, and as a base of operations for the Atlantic Area Command and Maintenance and Logistics Command as well as the captain of the Port of New York. Building 877 was built to serve as housing for Coast Guard families. Though no longer functional, Building 877 has remained on the Island since it was abandoned in 1996.

Former residents, please share your memories of Building 877 in the comments!

Announcing the 2013 Season on Governors Island

GIA Family Festival

Governors Island’s summer season is right around the corner.

This year, programming will take place throughout the Historic District while we continue construction on the southern end of the Island.  Ferries will once again bring visitors from Manhattan and Brooklyn, or you can also take the East River Ferry to the Island. Governors Island is open every Saturday, Sunday and holiday Monday (Memorial Day and Labor Day) from May 25 through September 29.

As always, you can bring your own bike to the Island or they can rent one here. We will again be hosting a variety of food vendors each weekend, located in the King Avenue Food Court in the Historic District.

New Programs and Exhibits!

We’re welcoming several new programs to the Island this year, including the New York Historical Society’s  WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda, which will paint a vivid picture of New York City life in wartime through photographs, posters, a Victory Garden hands-on activities for all ages beginning July 13th.

The Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Library are partnering with the Uni Project, New York City’s portable outdoor reading room, to provide books, learning activities, and children’s programs throughout the summer. Visitors will be able to borrow books “in house”, register for library cards, sign up for summer reading, learn more about the Uni, and find out about what’s happening in each of the three New York City public library systems.

Bike New York will also offer classes where visitors can learn to ride and brush up on their bike skills.

The highlight of the 2013 season will be a French festival of vintage carnival rides and carousels, opening in mid-July. The festival will take place in Nolan Park. More details about the festival will be released later this season.

Jazz Age Festival

Your Favorites Return!

This year we’re welcoming back some of our favorites including the Jazz Age Lawn Party, FIGMENT’s mini-golf, Tree House and City of Dreams Pavilion, and the Unicycle Festival. The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council will host a series of exhibits and open artist studios throughout the season. Visitors can also enjoy guided programs with the National Park Service, explore Castle Williams and Fort Jay and experience special youth programs.

Summer 2013 in the Historic District 

All programming this summer will take place in the National Historic District. The southern half of the Island, including Picnic Point, will be closed (with the exception of hard hat tours). This will allow us to continue our construction of 30 new acres of park and public spaces, work on the Island’s seawall and potable water pipe, and demolition of non-historic buildings. The closure of the southern portion is necessary to ensure the safety of the public and an on-time completion of these projects, allowing us to improve the island for the next generation.

Biking through the Historic DistrictNew Ways to View Construction Progress!

Those who would like to check in on our construction progress are in luck! There will be a Viewing Platform at Liggett Arch where visitors will be able to see the entire 30 acre construction site. The park and public spaces under construction include lively plazas, a shady botanic forest, two ball fields and expansive lawns. In addition, we will be offering free hard hat tours for the public on the last full weekend of each month.

For a full schedule of events and programs, up-to-date ferry schedules, information on our construction tour program, and downloadable maps, please visit

Looking forward to seeing you on the Island!

Images courtesy Arsenic & Old Lace (by Patrick Michael Hughes), the Governors Island Alliance, and istolethetv.

Island Archives: Looking over the island one more time.

Our final view of Governors Island looks north across the rooftops of Nolan Park. At the end of the row, you can see a new roof being added to Building 20-constructed in 1902.  This spring, Building 20 will receive yet another new roof along with all its neighbors is Nolan Park.

Image Courtesy of the National Park Service

For those of you with ample screen space, please click on the image to enjoy the full panorama below.

Image Courtesy of the National Park Service

Island Archives: Looking over the Island

We’ve been having lots of fun updating you on what is underway and coming up on Governors Island. As a change of pace, we thought we’d have a visit from Island Archives and share a great panorama of the island from 1938. The image is in three parts so stay tuned for further views. Here, you can see  the southern end of the historic district with views of Liggett Hall and down onto the fairly empty landfill.  Lots of early WWI storage facilities were already torn down while the building boom of the early Coast Guard years was still three decades away. In the foreground you can see a row of barracks and a playground long gone.

Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service.Annotation on the image are from the original.

Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service.
Annotation on the image are from the original.

Thanksgiving on Governors Island (a recipe)

We’re putting down the jackhammers and hanging up our safety vests for Thanksgiving. We wish you all a happy and healthy feast.

And from the Enlisted Men’s Wives Club of Governors Island Cookbook, here’s a fun twist on a Thanksgiving fave:

Spoiler alert: IT’S BANANAS!

Island Archives: Island Cuisine

Next season on Governors Island visitors will enjoy an array of tasty food choices, but good eating has a long history on the island. During the Coast Guard period, upwards of 5,000 people a day could be found living and/or working on the island. Among them was a group called the “Enlisted Mens Wives Club.” One of their projects was a comprehensive cookbook of favorite recipes from the islands chefs.

The menus are varied and diverse from “Drunk Meatballs” to bagels to “Banana Breeze Pie.” The book also includes some cooking basics and conversion charts for new cooks and charmingly illustrated chapter breaks.

If Cabbage Soup isn’t your thing, perhaps a nice hash?

The cookbook even provides ideas for the weight conscious.

If you see anything that looks good, go ahead, cook it up and let us know what you think!

How Much Do You Know About Governors Island? (updated)

Celebrate the holidays by taking this quiz on Governors Island!

Updated: New and improved with answers highlighted in red!

Earlier this week, all of the staff on Governors Island got into the spirit of the season with our annual holiday party. As a part of the festivities, we have a quiz on all things Governors Island.

This year, Able Engineering, who handles maintenance here, won in a landslide.

How well do you know the Island? Take the quiz below and find out! (Answers will be posted next week).

1.  Which figure in American history is NOT depicted on the WPA murals located in Pershing Hall?        

  1. Theodore Roosevelt
  2. Benedict Arnold
  3. Robert E. Lee
  4. Paul Revere

2.  During the Coast Guard era, there was a day care center on the Island. What was the monthly cost for child care during this period?

  1. $0                                                                                                                                          
  2. $6
  3. $15
  4. $110

3.  What was the runner-up name for Molly Brown in the naming contest?                     

  1. Sandy
  2. Salty
  3. Ginger
  4. Hello Gritty Kitty

4.  Approximately how many cubic yards of land fill were brought to Governors Island at the turn of the 20th century to make up the southern part of the Island?

  1. 475,000                                                                                                                                           
  2. 540,000
  3. 1,250,000
  4. 4,800,000

5.  Approximately how many cubic yards of land fill will be brought to Governors Island to complete the park & public space plan?    

  1. 475,000
  2. 540,000
  3. 1,250,000
  4. 4,800,000

6. Which feature was removed from the Governors House in the 1930s?              

  1. The widow’s walk
  2. A dry moat
  3. The 3rd floor
  4. Two-story porches

7.  Approximately, how many bottles of champagne were consumed at the 2011 Veuve Clicquot Polo Match?                                                                                                                                            

  1. 600
  2. 1,200
  3. 3,000
  4. 6,000

8. What is the official name of the color of the Nolan Park Houses?                                

  1. Buttercup yellow
  2. Sunshine by osmosis yellow
  3. French yellow
  4. Saffron yellow

 9.  The cannons in front of the Commanding Officer’s House were acquired from which war?         

  1. The War of 1812
  2. The Spanish American War
  3. World War I
  4. World War II

10. What color will the MTA Tunnel Vent Shaft be after the Park and Public Space project is complete?

  1. Orange in honor of the Dutch
  2. White
  3. Nautical Red
  4. Different colors every night like the Empire State Building

11.  Which body of water does NOT surround Governors Island?                                              

  1. Hudson River
  2. East River
  3. Buttermilk Channel
  4. Upper New York Bay

12.  How may runs does the Coursen make in the average month? (A run is considered from GI and back)                                                                                                                         

  1. 68
  2. 140
  3. 260
  4. 320

13.  In 1903, how many acres was Governors Island?                                                             

  1. 92
  2. 111
  3. 150
  4. 172

14. Which aviator has NOT landed on Governors Island?                                                 

  1. Wilbur Wright
  2. Glenn Curtis
  3. Captain “Sully” Sullenberger
  4. Major Henry H. “Hap” Arnold

If you really think you know the Island, try your hand at the bonus questions below! 


One point for each question answered correctly!

  1. Who was responsible for building the first church on the Island? Dr. John McVickar in 1847
  2. True or false: Governors Island was once connected to Manhattan? True (tens of thousands of years ago)
  3. Wouter van Twiller, who originally purchased Governors Island from the Lenape, inspired stories based on his appearance and temper. Which famous American wrote these stories and what were they called? Knickerbocker Tales by Washington Irving
  4. Which GI building was NOT part of the NY arsenal located on the island until WWI? Building 108
  5. Who was Nolan Park named after?  Major General Dennis Nolan

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