With spring in full bloom, there’s never been a better time to explore New York City’s many outdoor spaces. While everyone has fond memories of the many parks located around Manhattan, quaint Governors Island is an oft-overlooked treasure waiting to be experienced. With ferries leaving from The Battery every half hour, residents of the Lower East Side condos at One Manhattan Square have easy access to this beautiful, historic, and surprisingly luxurious island located in New York Harbor. Keep reading to learn about Governors Island, both past and present.
Referred to as Paggank by the Lenape, the small island was dubbed Nutten Island by Dutch settlers before being renamed Governors Island in the British Colonial era. The island was first used as a military base in the mid-1700s and was the site of crucial maneuvers by both the Continental and British Armies during the American Revolution. During the Civil War, Governors Island was used as a mustering ground for fresh Union troops, and it continued to function as a military installation until being decommissioned in the 1960s when it was turned over to the Coast Guard, who used it as a base until the mid-1990s.
Governors Island was redeveloped as a public park and venue space starting in the mid-90s, but the final pieces didn’t come together until the recent administration of Mayor de Blasio. Today, the island is home to a park complex that contains dozens of preserved historical buildings, an arts and culture center, a 22-acre National Monument, and an exclusive spa from renowned European spa chain QC Terme that caters to New Yorkers seeking a peaceful retreat from the heightened energy of the city. History buffs will love the preserved fortifications found around the island, which include the 1794 Fort Jay and the early-1800s Castle Williams.
With unbeatable waterfront views and intimate angles of Downtown Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island’s many lawns and pathways are the perfect setting for a day of strolling and picnicking, while the Governors Island Arts public arts and cultural program puts on a rolling series of installations and performances celebrating a diverse range of mediums and styles.
So, this year, take the time to explore this slice of New York history, art, and culture with a day trip to Governors Island. And contact the One Manhattan Square team to find out how you can soak up even more of the city’s history, art, and culture every day on the Lower East Side.