Even Bald Eagles Love Governors Island

This bald eagle was seen enjoying the views of NY Harbor at Picnic Point

Governors Island has been home to lots of creatures, like owls, chickens at the Earth Matter compost area and of course Molly Brown, but we hadn’t before seen a bald eagle here.

We were lucky enough to spot the eagle at Picnic Point.

Taking off from his perch at the end of the Island

Storm King Announces Major Exhibition on Governors Island


Mark di Suvero's "Mahatma" is sited at Picnic Point on the Island (© Edward Marritz).

The Storm King Art Center today announced a major exhibition of Mark di Suvero’s work that will open on Governors Island on May 27.

The exhibition, Mark di Suvero at Governors Island: Presented by Storm King Art Center comprises roughly a dozen works that will be sited around the Island.

The artist and his team are hard at work installing a sculpture at Picnic Point

The exhibit is curated by Storm King Director and Curator David Collens and is the largest outdoor presentation of di Suvero’s sculpture to be shown in New York City since the 1970s. With loans from public and private collections—including a number of sculptures from Storm King’s own celebrated installation of the artist’s work—as well as several new works that have never been on public view, it is a centerpiece of the Island’s 2011 season.

The exhibition is free and is open every day that the Island is open to the public. A full list of the 2011 schedule for the Island will be posted in the next week and opening day is just three weeks from today!

ISLAND ARCHIVES: A Look at Governors Island’s Picturesque Past

Governors Island: Shape shifter
Map of New York Harbor circa 1835. The familiar ice cream cone shape of the island has yet to emerge.

The current and future island have much to offer;  2.2 mile promenade with harbor views, a green for picnicking, lounging and swinging while gazing at the Statue of Liberty, and a dynamic and exciting future park and open space.  However, only one hundred years ago these places were part of the harbor.  The original island comprised only what is now the historic district, north of the Colonels Row green.  The island measured 69.4 acres, half of its current size.

At the end of the 19th century, military commanders were determined to expand Governors Island to accommodate a full regiment. Developments in Manhattan provided a way for this to occur. In the 1880s, New York City’s population boomed, creating the need for improved transportation systems.  The military made arrangements with the City of New York to dump the fill created by the construction of the 4th Avenue subway, New York City’s first, at Governors Island.  Between 1900, when construction of the subway began, and the project’s completion in 1912, the city deposited about 4,787,000 cubic yards of fill on the south side of the island, creating 103 acres of new land. 

The expanded island, about 100 years later.

The initial expansion was created by the construction of a rip-rap bulkhead on each side of the proposed Island extension.  The rip rap wall was an experimental engineering technique, but it was successful and the bulkhead enclosure was filled with the subway excavations and topped with a combination of clay and sand.

Plan showing shape of Island in 1879 superimposed upon Coast Guard era island boundaries and layout.

The increase in the Island’s size took place in the midst of a contentious battle between the City of New York and the federal government for the use of the Island. While plans to expand the military establishment on island proceeded, city officials dreamed of using the island in a host of different ways from an air strip to an immigrant processing center (a role eventually assigned to Ellis Island) and a city park. However, the military persevered and the new expanse of island was used for military staging and to house regiments.

Don’t Worry. Bee Happy.

Italian Bees come to Governors Island


The Added Value Farm on Governors Island now has 45,000 new workers (in bee-speak, that is both “workers” and “drones” and the all-important queen bees.)  In three hives, the honey bees will likely triple in number by Summer’s end.  Their job will be to pollinate the flowering plants of the farm, and the Island, increasing the crop yield by up to 60%.

Bee Domiciles at Added Value Farm

Keeping honey bees in New York City was made legal earlier this year, marking an important step in increasing the numbers of these important “farmers.”  There are over 200 species of bees in the NY area, though bee numbers have been dropping nationwide. Our new Italian Bees will likely remain on the Island as their pollination range is fairly small.  The bees will produce honey which will be on sale at the Added Value Farm stand later in the summer. And they will winter on the Island, ready to get back to work next year.

The bees’ keeper, Cerise Mayo, will come to the Island to feed the bees a yummy sugary mix for a little bit while they get themselves settled in. Soon, though, they’ll do their own work and make their own meals of the delightful flowers and trees of the Island.

Cerise Mayo, Beekeeper, helping the new Island tenants move in.

Honey bees are very docile so our new residents should not cause any concern to visitors.

When Nature Calls

All public access season, June to October, we hope you consider Governors Island a home away from home. It has all the comforts of your very own backyard from Adirondack chairs to hammocks to grassy knolls for spreading your picnic to a myriad of front porches you can perch upon. We really do offer all the comforts of home… the north and south of the Island now boast the newest, brightest, shiniest bathroom facilities to be found between the East River and Buttermilk Channel.

Check out the shine on these ….

If you find yourself at one of the many points of interest between the Water Taxi Beach and the vista-rich Picnic Point, don’t despair we still provide plenty of the most picturesque potties around.

In all, almost 100 places for you to stop off to “answer the call” and get swiftly back to the arts, entertainment, food and leisure of Governors Island. (All interior facilities and many exterior are also ADA accessible)


Fleet Week Begins!

The Parade of Ships from Governors Island's western promenade


Many of Governors Island’s visitors comment on the breathtaking views from Governors Island. When you walk or bike around the 2.2 mile promenade, you see the skylines of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Verrazano Bridge, Upper New York Bay and of course, the Statue of Liberty. 

Fleet Week begins today with the Parade of Ships and it truly is a beautiful sight from Governors Island. More than a dozen Navy and Coast Guard ships have sailed into New York Harbor and up the Hudson. Each year, Fleet Week is a sure sign that summer is on its way, as is Governors Island’s public access season

A Fleet Week ship sails into New York Harbor


On June 5, when the Island opens to the public, the ships may be gone, but the incredible views will be here. You can come out to Picnic Point, lounge in a hammock and enjoy swinging on a swing set, right in view of the Statue of Liberty. We can’t wait to see you.

New York Times Features John Ameroso at Governors Island’s Urban Farm on Picnic Point

John Ameroso at Added Value's Three Acre Farm at Picnic Point (photo from nytimes.com)


The front page of the Dining section of today’s New York Times features a profile of the urban farming pioneer John Ameroso, who helped create Governors Island’s three acre sustainable farm. 

The farm, located at Picnic Point, first opened last year.  The farm is run by Added Value. It is a popular attraction on Governors Island, with many visitors stopping to see what is growing there, including kale, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. 

Added Value will be planting additional crops this year. In addition to being able to learn about sustainable urban farming from Added Value volunteers, visitors will be able to purchase the locally grown produce from a farm stand on the Island.  

So next time you are down at Picnic Point, stop by the farm to see a working urban farm right in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

Active by Design

Last week, the New York City released its new Active Design Guidelines.  The guidelines provide architects and planners with strategies to create designs that promote physical activity for better health. The guidelines are the first in the City to focus on the role of design in combating obesity, which is one of the most urgent health crises facing the city today.  Many of the strategies are common sense, and many are supported by academic research, but all use design to help us find ways to incorporate healthy activity into our daily lives. West 8’s park and public space design  for Governors Island will feature a number of these strategies, and we’ll show them to you in a future post. But first, here are some of the ways Governors Island is already making it easier and more fun to get your heart rate up:

We chose play equipment everyone can enjoy, even grown-ups.

Signs showing walking time to different destinations on Governors Island help people decide whether they can walk to their destination or wait for an electric tram. Providing people with information to make decisions is an important active design strategy.

All of our more than five miles of car-free roads are scenic. You can't help but choose to take the long way home.

Having flexible spaces and great programming partners are another strategy. Here, RECESS hosts a badminton tournament on Colonels Row.

We believe everyone should have the chance to ride a bike on Governors Island. Bike and Roll's Free Bike Fridays have put more than 18,000 people on bikes.

Just looking at the kale at Added Value Farm on Governors Island is good for you.

New York dads (among others) ferry out to Governors Island

TIis past weekend a gang on nine dads took their children IMG_5894out to Governors Island, and we could not be more please that they have discovered the Island as a great free place to bring their kids and relax. And one of the guys put it: “The moment you ship out, you’re docking. You could hit the island with a rock but you won’t find a place more different from Manhattan.” And he’s right! Though Governors Island is so close to both Manhattan and Brooklyn it couldn’t be more different from either.

This past Friday, Governors Island was also host the a bunch of other visitors. This group of Picnic Point 083women had a blast with their free bikes (Bike and Roll rents bikes for free for one hour every Friday!). They where in the process of traveling around checking out all of the different Creative Time exhibits. They are pictured down on Picnic Point listening to the Susan Philipsz piece. Our maps located around the Island list all of the Creative Time art exhibits on the Island, the food vendors, FIGMENT*’s City of Dreams, and all of the other on-going events on Governors Island. They were just about to jump on their bikes again and head over to mini golf designed by FIGMENT*.Picnic Point 090

This group of people were enjoying our recently added swings. The views are amazing, and visitors has a great time swinging with a view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Jersey City directly in front of them. Every fifteen minutes or so a large Staten Island Ferry passes by, along with barges, sailboats, and all types of sea-fairing vessels. The view was so good that this group below (even though thew are New Yorkers) took a family photo in front of the Statue of Liberty.Picnic Point 106

Come out this Friday, Saturday and Sunday to enjoy the summer.

Bearing Fruit

The Added Value Farm on Governors Island is really taking off. Though the plants were only recently started, some big changes are taking place. This squash plant has some of the best views in the city. The farm is located in Picnic Point (a recently created eight and a half acre public open space that is the closest point on land to the Statue of Liberty’s face) on the southern end of Governors Island. Added Value produce that is grown on the Island will be sold to Water Taxi Beach’s food and dining facility on the Island, as well as at a farm stand also on the Island.

I hope you come out for yourself to see the wonderful work this great organization is doing on Governors Island.


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