Governors Island National Monument

Overview

Governors Island is a 172-acre island located a half-mile from the southern tip of Manhattan in New York harbor. Its name comes the time when New York was a British colony and the colonial assembly reserved the island for the exclusive use of New York's royal governors. When the American Revolution began in 1776, George Washington ordered the island to be fortified with earthworks just prior to the Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn) - the first ever engagement of the fledgling Continental Army with British forces. With American independence from Britain in 1783, New York and the nation were determined to prevent any future occupation of the city and its strategic waterways by an enemy power.

Towards that end, two fortifications were placed on Governors Island in the years preceding the War of 1812 as part of an extensive coastal defense system. The first, Fort Jay, is a square five bastioned fort started in the 1790's. The second, Castle Williams, is a circular casemated work completed in 1811. The two forts are among the best remaining examples of First System (Fort Jay) and Second System (Castle Williams) American coastal fortification.

When the Army left Governors Island in 1966, the installation became a U.S. Coast Guard base - the largest in the world. It's closing in 1997 concluded almost two centuries of the island's use as a federal reservation. In 2001, the two historic fortifications and their surroundings became a national monument.

On January 31, 2003, the Governors Island National Monument was transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior and is now managed by the National Park Service. As a new national monument, Governors Island is not fully operational, so services and facilities are extremely limited. Tours begin in early June and continue through Labor Day weekend. Tours will be free, but tickets will be required and there will be a fee for ferry transportation.

Map

Seasonality / Weather

New York enjoys four distinct seasons and the weather is known to be highly variable. During the summer, you can experience days that can be pleasant or hot and humid with a chance of thunderstorms. Please check the daily forecast before your visit.

Directions

Driving: 

No automobiles are allowed on Governors Island.

Governors Island is a 10-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan. With regular ferry service from Manhattan and Brooklyn. There are also limited guided hikes provided by the National Park Service on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The Governors Island Ferry is located in the Battery Maritime Building, Slip # 7. The Battery Maritime Building is a large green building and is located South of the Staten Island Ferry terminal. During the season (May 30 - October 11), the building is adorned with blue Governors Island flags.

Getting to Governors Island:
Taking public transportation is the best way to get to the ferry to Governors Island. Please click on the links above for more information. If you need to drive your vehicle to Lower Manhattan, directions and links to off-island parking garages are provided below.

Driving to Lower Manhattan:
Cars are not permitted on Governors Island. If you would like to drive to Lower Manhattan in the vicinity of the Battery Maritime Building, you will need to park your car in either a parking garage or on the street.

Please Note:
In lower Manhattan, on-street parking is extremely difficult to find. Parking is metered at one-hour intervals. Parking regulations are vigorously enforced and parking tickets are very costly.

* Commercial parking lots and parking garages are available-mostly along South Street, near the South Street Seaport. More distant parking is available off the West Side Highway and at Battery Park City.

Driving Directions from Lower Manhattan:

1. From the East Side of Manhattan: FDR south to Exit 1, the Battery Park/Staten Island ferry exit.
2. From the West Side of Manhattan: Take the West Side Highway/West Street to the FDR and exit at South Street as you emerge from the Battery Park Tunnel. From Midtown, take Broadway to its end in Lower Manhattan.

Flying: 

Airports in the region include Kennedy International (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA) in New York City, Newark Liberty (EWI) in Newark, New Jersey. More distant are MacArthur (ISD) at Islip, New York and Westchester County at White Plans, New York. Rental cars and taxis are available at all airports, but rates maybe high. Other ground transportation options (rail, bus, subway) are available from each airport, inquire with your travel agent ahead of time.

Public Transport: 

New York City Transit Buses:
Bus Service to Lower Manhattan in the area of the Battery Maritime Building include the M1, M6 and M15 buses. Visit www.mta.info for service updates. Or you can call 718-330-1234. Bus schedule updates are updated every Friday.

New York City Transit Subways:
Lower Manhattan in the area of the Battery Maritime Building, is served by the three different subways. Please visit www.mta.info for the latest updates.

The 4/5 subway to Bowling Green (Weekdays and Weekends):
Walk across the park towards the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. The Battery Maritime Building is to the left as you face the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

The R subway at Whitehall/South Ferry:
Walk across the street to the Battery Maritime Building.

The 1 train at South Ferry:
Take the 1 train to South Ferry. Walk up the stairs or escalator. The Battery Maritime Building will be right next to the Staten Island Ferry terminal on the South side.

Railroad:
Long Island Railroad (LIRR):

* The train will take you from Long Island to Pennsylvania (Penn) Station.
* From Penn Station, take the 1 train to Lower Manhattan.

Metro North:

* This train will take you from north of Manhattan to Grand Central Terminal
* From Grand Central Terminal, take the the 4/5 train to Lower Manhattan.

Commercial Ferry Service to Lower Manhattan:
The Port Authority Bus Terminal is the interstate bus terminal closest to Governors Island. The R, W, and 1 subway trains are available at Times Square, a few blocks east on 42nd Street.

Commercial Ferry Service to Lower Manhattan:
The closest commercial ferry service to the Battery Maritime Building is Pier 11 at South Street and Wall Street on the East River. Pier 11 is served by ferries from the East and Hudson Rivers, New Jersey and the proposed shuttle ferry service from LaGuardia Airport (LGA). The Battery Maritime Building is a about 3 blocks southwest on South Street, or about a 7 minute walk from Pier 11.