Governors Island, NY
One of the things on my NYC bucket list, that I never got around to while I lived there, was visiting Governors Island. Luckily, I was able to check this off on my last visit! Governors Island is a 172 acre island located half a mile from the southern tip of Manhattan. The island served as a military outpost, and was off-limits to the public for 200 years, until 2003. Today, visitors are welcome on summer weekends.
My friend Mike and I took a quick ferry ride from South Street Seaport to Governor’s Island for $4 each way. (There’s also a free ferry boat option available further south, but the lines are massive!). In less than 10 minutes, we had arrived.
First order, of business, renting bikes! I can’t tell you the last time I rode a bike prior to this… luckily my bike riding skills came back to me pretty quickly! Thanks to the beautiful weather that day, it was a great way to see the island. We didn’t have enough people for a quad (next time!), so we had to settle for standard solo bikes.
The island has a lot of interesting structures, such as this one: Castle Williams, a fort constructed in 1807 to protect the city against naval attacks. Together with Fort Jay, it comprises the Governors Island National Monument. During the civil war it housed both Union troops and Confederate prisoners, and by 1865 had become a low security military prison.
The island is also home to several abandoned buildings. It seems like such wasted opportunity, given the tight housing situation just across the East River! Photographer Nathan Kensinger has spent years documenting the island’s remaining buildings: “Half of the approximately 100 buildings on the island are in some state of decay, including a supermarket, auto body repair shop, movie theater and hospital. Many of the other buildings are controlled ruins, minimally cleaned up to allow limited public access. Walking through this deserted landscape is a surreal experience, especially when considering its close proximity to the bustling financial center of lower Manhattan.” You can see his photos here.
We continued our bike ride along the water. One of my favorite shots:
The view of Manhattan and the Freedom Tower.
We made it around the entire island pretty quickly, so we went back to explore a bit further. We came across an Art Fair, with food vendors and live music outside.
I went with the Cinnamon (Biodynamic Single Estate Ceylon Cinnamon from Sri Lanka, to be exact!). It was delicious!
After returning our bikes, we walked around some of the older buildings near the ferry terminal.
And then we took the ferry ride back to Manhattan. Goodbye Govenors Island – until next summer! This is another one of my favorite shots. I love the sun coming through the clouds!
Back to the Seaport.
Governor’s Island is closed for the year, but will open again May 2013. A great side trip from the hustle and bustle of NYC!