Upper New York Harbor. Open in Google maps.
Visit the Trust for Governors Island for information on the free ferry from Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The island is open Fridays-Sundays from late May through the end of September.
The Governors Island ferry and all paths are wheelchair accessible.
A 172-acre island—and former military base—nestled between Manhattan and Brooklyn
Located in the shadow of the modern New York City skyline, Governors Island is the oldest European settlement in New York. A former U.S. Army military base and U.S. Coast Guard station, 92 acres of the island are open to the public during the summer. A short ferry ride from Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn will get you there to picnic, bike and enjoy gorgeous views as well as a wide array of cultural activities. See the Governors Island calendar for a schedule of events.
Governors Island is managed jointly by the National Park Service (NPS) and the Trust for Governors Island. NPS administers the 22 acre national monument within a larger National Historic Landmark District, which showcases two forts from the early 19th century and the remainder of the island is administered by the Trust.
The two forts, Fort Jay and Castle Williams, were a key part of the inner harbor defense network that was constructed in the early 19th century to protect New York City from naval attack. Colonel Jonathan Williams, the chief engineer of the Army Corps of Engineers, designed the castle that would bear his name, and also oversaw the construction of Castle Clinton in Battery Park, Fort Wood (now the star-shaped base of the Statue of Liberty) and the former Fort Gibson on Ellis Island.
Castle Williams is a circular red sandstone fort, built between 1807 and 1811. The fort imprisoned Confederate soldiers during the Civil War and then continued as a low security military prison until 1965. Fort Jay is a star-shaped fort, with a rare dry moat. The open courtyard in the interior is surrounded by former Army and Coast Guard barracks dating from the 1830s.
Today, a trip to Governors Island transports visitors to a historic military village and a tranquil scenic playground just a few minutes from Manhattan. Wander through the forts and military homes, ride your bike along the paved path that encircles the island or settle in for a picnic on the parade ground; no matter what the trip entails visitors will be treated to some of the best views in the city.
Things to Do
Special Events in June
6/8 & 9, 10am-6pm
Now in its 7th year on Governors Island, FIGMENT NYC removes the barriers of museum, gallery walls and entrance fees, and blurs the lines between those who create and those who enjoy art. Bring your own art to share and find creative works in media ranging from sculpture and music to social experiments and technological innovations.
Jazz Age Lawn Party
6/15 & 16, 11am-5pm, Colonels Row
Get out your "flapperwear" and join Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra for live Jazz Age music and dance performances, dance instruction and games for all ages. Complete the experience with 1920's inspired refreshments and gourmet food (available for purchase). Buy advance tickets at Dreamland Orcestra. If space is available, tickets will be sold at the door.
Writing On It All
6/16, 22, 23 & 30, 12-3pm
Come together with invited artists and writers to write over the inside of an out-of-use house in Nolan Park in response to site-specific prompts. Explore the nature of writing as collaborative, material, site-specific and ephemeral. Visit Writing on It All for more info.
Army Heritage Day
Re-enanctors and small displays bring back a sense of Governors Island 200 year long history as an Army post.
Watch 32 creative organizations battle for the title of New York City's supreme shuttle cockers! Festivities include free bike rides, food vendors, a beer/wine tent and guest deejays. A few public courts will be available. Visit RECESS for more info.
Additional NPS Site Tours & Programming
Biking, sight-seeing, picnicking, art, history, architecture and concerts. See Governors Island calendar for more.