Governors Island National Monument

After two centuries of restricted military use, Governors Island was returned to the City and State of New York in early 2003. In conjunction with the National Park Service (NPS), plans are progressing at glacial speed for a Governors Island National... more

After two centuries of restricted military use, Governors Island was returned to the City and State of New York in early 2003. In conjunction with the National Park Service (NPS), plans are progressing at glacial speed for a Governors Island National Monument. Financial considerations due to the recession have also caused great anxiety as to the future of Governors Island. The island is located in Upper New York Harbor at the mouth of the East River, a half of a mile from the southern tip of Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront. In warmer months, ferry service is available to the island, and events and tours are regularly scheduled. The ferry is about a 10-minute ride each way. As a new national monument, Governors Island is not fully operational and only opened on a seasonal basis, so services and facilities are extremely limited. There is no food service on the island on weekdays at this time. There is no water available on the island. Restroom facilities are very limited. In the summer season, the ferry to Governors Island departs from the Battery Maritime Building located at 10 South Street at the corner of Whitehall and South Streets (next door the Staten Island ferry term... more

After two centuries of restricted military use, Governors Island was returned to the City and State of New York in early 2003. In conjunction with the National Park Service (NPS), plans are progressing at glacial speed for a Governors Island National Monument. Financial considerations due to the recession have also caused great anxiety as to the future of Governors Island.

The island is located in Upper New York Harbor at the mouth of the East River, a half of a mile from the southern tip of Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront. In warmer months, ferry service is available to the island, and events and tours are regularly scheduled. The ferry is about a 10-minute ride each way. As a new national monument, Governors Island is not fully operational and only opened on a seasonal basis, so services and facilities are extremely limited. There is no food service on the island on weekdays at this time. There is no water available on the island. Restroom facilities are very limited. In the summer season, the ferry to Governors Island departs from the Battery Maritime Building located at 10 South Street at the corner of Whitehall and South Streets (next door the Staten Island ferry terminal) in lower Manhattan. Visitors must purchase a ticket to ride the ferry. The ticket only provides for transporation to Governors Island, no other services are included in the ticket price. As the exact timing of ferryboats as well as pricing is subject to seasonal change as well as for special events, we suggest you visit either the official National Park Service website or the website of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation for exact details.

The Governors Island National Monument will encompass 22 acres of the 172 acre island which is highlighted by two early nineteenth century fortifications, Fort Jay and Castle Williams. Both forts are individually listed on the National Register.

Star-shaped Fort Jay (1806-1809) dominates the island and is one of the best preserved and largest fortifications of its type in the nation. Its dry moat and earthen covered walls represent important and innovative military technology of its era. Located inside Fort Jay’s walls are four barracks that form an interior quadrangle. The barracks were built in the 1830’s to support the New York Arsenal. A glacis, an open slope able to be swept by defender's fire, surrounds the fort. Lying mostly within the monument's boundary, this artificial landscaping later served as a parade ground.

Castle Williams (1807-1811) is a massive three-tier, 200-foot diameter masonry fort. Its 8-foot sandstone walls and unique casemated tiers made the Castle virtually invulnerable. Its 102 guns made the fort one of the most formidable American seacoast defenses of its era. Together with its sister fort, Castle Clinton, Castle Williams proved an effective deterrent to British forces contemplating attacking New York during the War of 1812. The interior of the Castle was remodeled several times for different uses, most notably as a military prison during the Civil War.


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Governors Island, NY
(212) 825-3045
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