Governors Island

More and more people are discovering this island each year, but a lot of New Yorkers still don’t know about it. The island was used by the military for hundreds of years and was then given to the Coast Guard before the city bought it from the Feds for a buck.  You heard right.  A buck.  Today, the island is a great picnic and biking destination in the summertime with beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

Access to the park is via a free ferry that you can catch at this architectural wonder called the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street, next to the Staten Island Ferry terminal.

Ferry entrance

As you stroll the island, you get this strange sense that you’re on a college campus.  These were military housing back in the day when the island was in use.  They are now abandoned and not in the greatest shape, but there are efforts underway to preserve some of them.  You can go inside some of the better maintained ones.

nicer homes

If you’ve got a mindset to discover all the nooks and crannies of the island, you will no doubt come across the prison. This is a huge round structure that just begs to be explored.

prison

The prison is quite eerie, even in daylight.

The fun part is that at certain intervals of the day, you will find a guard in old-fashioned uniform outside the prison who will demonstrate how to load and shoot a flintlock musket.

The island now hosts an arts fair each summer.  Called FIGMENT, it exhibits creative artwork from many different artists.  Here is an example from 2009.  This fierce creature is made of chairs!

Don’t forget to soak in some of the views before you leave the island.

lady liberty

The island will be open again on June 5th.  It is only open on weekends from Friday to Sunday.  Last year, they had free bike rentals for adults and kiddies every Friday.  On the other days, you can still rent bikes, but will need to pay.  Don’t forget to bring that picnic basket and frisbee.  With lots of open sky, it’s also a great spot for kite flying!

For the most current information on park hours and the ferry schedule, click here.

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