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Governors Island is open for passive recreation. Ferry ticket reservations and face coverings are required. Read our COVID-19 Response.

Governors Island is open for passive recreation. Ferry ticket reservations and face coverings are required. Read our COVID-19 Response.

Trust for Governors Island Unveils Bold Vision for Climate Solutions Center


NEW YORK (September 17, 2020)—The Trust for Governors Island today unveiled plans to develop a center for climate solutions, leveraging Governors Island’s unique environment and waterfront location as a public living laboratory. The proposed center will provide a central convening spot for researchers, advocates, innovators and students from around the globe focused on climate change solutions, while offering meaningful opportunities for public engagement, bringing hands-on education, programming and advocacy initiatives around climate and environmental issues directly to New Yorkers.The Trust’s proposal comes as the ongoing pandemic has underscored the need for coordinated, cross-sector planning that centers equity around the world’s most urgent issues.

The center is projected to create 8,000 direct new jobs and $1 billion in economic impact for New York City. The proposal could include:

  • An academic or research anchor institution to study the impacts of climate change to advance related fields, bringing climate science, policy, communications, climate justice initiatives and solution development under one roof
  • A living laboratory and/or cultural uses that showcase solutions and invite conversations on the environment through public art and programming
  • Platform for environmental justice organizations and environmental non-profits to research, host programs and convenings, and connect with New Yorkers
  • Commercial innovation for technological research in the climate field
  • Dormitories to support an academic anchor and create a uniquely immersive community for learning and innovation
  • Space for convenings that offer opportunities for New Yorkers and visitors alike to engage in conversations about climate change
  • Space for policy, advocacy and programming organizations to engage with the Island’s nearly 1M annual visitors

“Governors Island has a distinguished past in New York City, and an even brighter future,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re proud to continue the growth of Governors Island as a resource for New York City to fight climate change, create jobs, and showcase our city’s world-class research and scientific talent.”

“Governors Island is a jewel in New York Harbor, and it is poised to serve as an inspirational demonstration of how New York and other cities around the world can adapt to climate change,” said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been. “This ambitious plan to pair research and innovation in the climate field with public education and meaningful opportunities for dialogue about climate change is exactly the sort of project the city needs as we turn our attention to getting New Yorkers back to work and restarting our economy. We are excited to work with the Trust for Governors Island on a project that will further position New York City as a leader in climate action, while simultaneously delivering jobs and cementing Governors Island’s position as a beloved cultural, historic and recreational resource.”

“As we recover from the ongoing pandemic, New York City will continue to do what we do best – bring forward bold and creative solutions to pressing problems,” said Trust for Governors Island Chair Alicia Glen. “As a city of islands with 520 miles of coastline, the devastating impacts of climate change remain one of the most urgent issues facing our communities. This exciting plan for Governors Island will bring a tremendous resource that not only represents an important step forward for the City’s recovery, but also acknowledges and builds upon our history as the global center for innovation and progress.”

“Even before the pandemic, the need for preparation and innovation around our world’s most urgent crises was clear,” said Trust for Governors Island President & CEO Clare Newman. “As one of New York City’s great public places, Governors Island can serve as a powerful platform and living laboratory for research, innovation and advocacy. We’re thrilled to announce a vision that realizes the full potential of Governors Island, marrying its extraordinary open space, history, arts and culture with a visible center for confronting one of the defining issues of our time. We look forward to working with community stakeholders and our local elected officials in the coming months as we begin to make this plan a reality.”  

“As we watch California burn while record-setting hurricanes pummel Louisiana, it is clear that even amid a pandemic we cannot lose sight of our looming climate crisis,” said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC’s Chief Climate Policy Advisor. “Today’s announcement of a climate solutions hub on Governors Island is exactly the kind of initiative we need to deliver on New York City’s world-leading Green New Deal and end the age of fossil fuels. We are committed to doing our part by divesting from fossil fuels, decarbonizing our economy, and investing to create a resilient and inclusive city. That’s how we will create the jobs that will accelerate our economic recovery, achieve justice for our communities on the front lines of our climate crisis, and ensure a livable future for the next generation.” 

“As we face down climate disaster, we must reimagine a new world—and that world will be built right here in New York City,” said Mayor’s Office of Resiliency Director Jainey Bavishi. “Drawing on New York City’s boundless talent and existing expertise in climate adaptation, this first-of-its-kind center will foster new strategies and technologies with the goal of creating and safer, fairer, and more prosperous future.”  

“Twenty years ago, I succeeded in returning Governors Island to New York,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “Today’s announcement of a global center for climate solutions continues the remarkable transformation of Governors Island. Climate change is an existential threat to life on our planet, if we don’t take action now the harm will be irreversible. By bringing together a wide array of perspectives, including those of researchers, environmental justice advocates, educators, and members of the public, the center will position New York City to lead the fight against climate change. It is a fight we must win.”

“While the impact of climate change remains one of the world’s greatest challenges, we have the opportunity to make our communities more resilient and to build a 100% clean renewable energy economy that works for everyone. Governors Island could play a role in achieving that vision,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents lower Manhattan, western Brooklyn and Governors Island. “I’m glad that the Trust for Governors Island has committed to an inclusive approach to developing a plan for this portion of the island. I cannot stress enough the importance of having communities in both Manhattan and Brooklyn actively involved in every step of the process. I look forward to working with the Trust, my colleagues in government, community residents, and other key stakeholders to ensure that the public engagement and review are thorough, open to all voices, and equitable.”

“The Trust for Governors Island, through their plan for a global center for climate solutions, is working to implement an important step in protecting our city from the harshest effects of climate change,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “It is not about if there will be another super storm, it is about when, and I am excited and grateful that Governors Island is putting forth this initiative in their unique space to create a research institute, laboratories, and a place to have these crucial discussions on climate change. It is important that we prioritize resiliency in our city and in our country and part of that is having these important conversations as well as having access to spaces which focus on this urgent issue.”

“Manhattan Community Board 1 is encouraged by the Trust's vision for an Island that is a hub of environmental consciousness and action,” said Manhattan Community Board 1 Chairperson Tammy Meltzer. “We look forward to working closely with the Trust to ensure that the Island is equitable for all and achieves the mutual goals of the community, including exciting opportunities such as energy self-sufficiency, carbon neutrality, prioritizing open space and green infrastructure”

“I applaud the Trust for Governors Island for creating its innovative vision for the Climate Solutions Center,” said Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig, Head of the Climate Impacts Group at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and former Co-Chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change. “The Center will provide a myriad of opportunities for the actions and knowledge-sharing needed to tackle climate change challenges. New York City has long been a leader in responding to climate change and this exciting initiative will ensure that the City will expand this significant role, both locally and globally.”

“As New York Harbor continues to become a flash point for the impacts of climate change, Regional Plan Association applauds the Trust’s timely decision to create a center for climate solutions in the heart of the harbor,” said Regional Plan Association President and CEO Tom Wright. “Since the mid-1990s when RPA convened the Governors Island Alliance to plan the future of the Island, we have advocated for a place that is truly public in nature and which preserves open space, prioritizes educational uses and adheres to sustainable development principles. The Trust is taking a bold step towards these goals with the re-zoning plan, and we look forward to reviewing the plan during the land use review process.”

“The climate crisis will be one of the greatest challenges of our generation, but we know that smart design at parks and open spaces can help communities be more resilient, absorb stormwater, and reduce heat levels,” said Trust for Public Land New York and New Jersey Director Carter Strickland. “In New York City we have already demonstrated the power of parks to create healthy, livable, and resilient communities, and by providing a dedicated Center for Climate Solutions at Governors Island, we can refine our designs and spread our best practices.”

“From our coastlines to our street trees, New York City’s open spaces are integral to climate resilience,” said New Yorkers for Parks Executive Director Adam Ganser. “Housing an innovative center for addressing climate change on Governors Island, one of the most unique public spaces in our city, is a natural fit. It affirms the many important roles that public spaces serve: protecting the environment, supporting the health and wellness of visitors, and serving as anchors for community and collaboration.”

“Governors Island is closely entwined in our region’s history, and its future potential is tied to its role as a revitalized, resilient, accessible, and innovative waterfront community,” said Waterfront Alliance President and CEO Cortney Worrall. “What better place for a center of excellence and innovation focused on the climate crisis than on Governors Island? As a hub for future engineers, scientists, researchers and planners working together for resilience, the Island will play a critical role and provide opportunities for hands on learning and more direct access to the waterfront.”

"This makes so much sense for Governors Island, which is such an iconic and appropriate place to anchor New York's research might in the fight for solutions to climate change,” said Center for an Urban Future Executive Director Jonathan Bowles. “It has the potential to help make the city a global leader in climate change research, and it will create a lot of good jobs at a time when that’s needed more than ever.”

“As longtime tenants of Governors Island and proud partners of the Trust for Governors Island—not to mention citizens of New York City and the world—we at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council are thrilled to be aligned with this urgent and visionary initiative,” said Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Executive Director, Artistic Programs Lili Chopra. “Climate change is among the most dire threats to our city, our country, and our planet, and we believe firmly that artists and the arts have a vital role to play in the public’s investigation of issues surrounding the environment, ecology, and sustainability.”

“For decades LMCC has been rooted in Lower Manhattan and on Governors Island, and as such we have experienced firsthand the devastating effects of climate change on our neighborhoods, our infrastructure, our city,” said Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Executive Director, Finance & Administration Diego S. Segalini. “We have always taken an active role in the recovery of our communities, and are proud to stand alongside our partners at the Trust for Governors Island in this proactive initiative to acknowledge and address climate change now, and meet future challenges head-on.”

“We fully support this new vision for Governors Island and are thrilled that the plans are designed to make real use of the Island's position in the center of New York Harbor,” said Billion Oyster Project Executive Director Pete Malinowski. “We look forward to working with the Trust to achieve this ambitious vision.”

“This is an inspiring, urgently necessary initiative,” said Climate Museum Director Miranda Massie. “We're thankful the Trust is stepping up to the extraordinary challenge of the climate crisis and looking forward to extending our generative, rewarding partnership.”

“Lower Manhattan has always been a gateway to the future and to Governors Island,” said Alliance for Downtown New York President Jessica Lappin. “It is thrilling to think of a center, here, that could help us solve one of the great crises facing not only New York, but the entire globe. It's a perfect use for this precious place.”

“We are grateful to the Trust for accommodating GrowNYC's Teaching Garden on Governors Island for the past seven years,” said GrowNYC President and CEO Marcel Van Ooyen. “For the first six, our primary focus was hands-on environmental education for New York City school children and other visitors. But this year we pivoted to concentrate on food production and, to date, have distributed more than 12,000 pounds of food grown on the island to New Yorkers struggling with the effects of COVID-19. Governors Island is a uniquely special resource for New Yorkers, and we look forward to working with the Trust and others as they plan the next phase for the Island.”

“The vision for the Climate Center is perfectly aligned with the early values our organization helped establish,” said Friends of Governors Island (formerly the Governors Island Alliance) Executive Director Merritt Birnbaum. “Despite the great progress of the last two decades, Governors Island is still only a seasonal destination. The proposed plan will create a year-round environment where more and more people can discover and enjoy the Island’s extraordinary park and public space, while enhancing its existing focus on sustainability, education, the arts and recreation. As our City and our world look to overcome the burdens of recovery and resilience, this ambitious proposal will unlock the Island’s full potential and could not come at a better moment.”

In the coming months, the Trust will work with stakeholders, local elected officials, agencies and New Yorkers to help bring the vision to life, including through a proposed rezoning of the South Island to bring a resilient, mixed-use climate innovation district to life. The new district would allow for academic, commercial, non-profit, cultural, convening and hospitality facilities.The rezoning proposal, expected to enter the City’s formal public land-use review process in October, would extend uses allowed in the North Island to designated South Island development sites to support a year-round, 24/7 mixed-use district, anchored by an educational or research center. All buildings across the development sites will strictly adhere to flood-resistant construction methods.

The rezoning would expand the Island’s open space, increase its public connections, and protect all open space on the South Island. No zoning changes are being proposed for the North Island/Governors Island Historic District. All earned revenue generated on the Island through the rezoning will stay on the Island and go toward funding park maintenance, property management, transportation, security, utilities and infrastructure, creating a long-term path for the Trust’s financial sustainability. As part of this vision, the Trust plans to issue a solicitation to attract an anchor institution and complementing uses. At the same time, The Trust plans to continue to issue requests for proposals for historic buildings within the North Island, including cultural, educational and amenity uses to support expanded public access.

Governors Island provides the ideal location for such an ambitious proposal. Accessible by ferry, its position at the center of New York Harbor offers the feeling of being a world away with close proximity to Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, making it a potential magnet for the city’s talent and a retreat for research, collaboration and education. The Island is also imbued with a focus on confronting and adapting to the impacts of a changing climate on a daily basis, from its direct water access and natural upland environment to its award-winning 43-acre park, which is a global leader in resilient landscape design and construction.

Thirty-three acres of development area on the Island’s southern end were designated for future construction as part of the Island’s Park and Public Space Master Plan, released in 2010, including the 6.5-acre Western Development Zone and 26.5-acre Eastern Development Zone. The proposed rezoning would comprise roughly 4.2 million square feet of development across those two zones.

The Island has undergone a wide-ranging transformation over the past decade, including a $400 million investment to build an award-winning 43-acre park and in infrastructure upgrades. The Island is currently home to year-round tenants, including the New York Harbor School, the Billion Oyster Project and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s newly expanded Arts Center at Governors Island, as well as dozens of seasonal arts and cultural partners. Since opening to the public in 2005, the Island has welcomed more than 6M visitors, and welcomed nearly 1M in 2019 alone. Nearly 80% of Governors Island visitors reside in New York City.

In March, the Trust issued a Request for Proposals from artistic, cultural, environmental and educational organizations for the use of two buildings in Nolan Park, a collection of 20 former military officer homes, on a long-term basis. The RFP is part of the Trust’s broader efforts to breathe new life into several buildings within the Island’s Historic District with year-round tenants in the areas of arts and culture, commercial activity, and hospitality and amenities to support both expanded access and increasing visitorship.

Summer Updates from Governors Island


Governors Island has been open to the public since July, and we’ve been thrilled to provide New Yorkers with much needed open space during the COVID-19 pandemic. As summer winds down, we’re excited to share a few updates about this season thus far.

Our 2020 public season has presented unique challenges and offered unique opportunities. While our public opening was initially delayed due to COVID-19, the Island opened to the public on July 15 with a new set of health and safety measures in place and a goal of providing more equitable access to the Island for all New Yorkers.

A major feature of the enhanced health and safety measures is our new timed ticketing system. By requiring visitors to reserve tickets both to and from the Island, the new ticketing system allows us to maintain low capacity on our ferries to ensure that social distancing remains possible during the trip.

This year, the Trust for Governors Island also shifted Brooklyn ferry service from Pier 6 to Red Hook / Atlantic Basin in order to reach a wider audience, particularly NYC communities underserved by public space. Additionally, free rides were extended to all residents of NYCHA housing for the entire season. So far, residents of NYCHA housing, IDNYC holders, and current and former military servicemembers, all of whom ride for free, have reserved over 16% of all tickets this year.

Masks are required while boarding and riding Governors Island ferries at all times. Photo by Radhika Chalasani

To date, over 100,000 visitors have taken the ferry to Governors Island since we reopened the Island in July. More than 40% of tickets reserved have been free of charge, including over 23% as free rides available to all visitors before noon on weekends.

4heads Artist in Residence Jean Foos' studio on Colonels Row. Image courtesy the arist

Another major change this year has seen the historic houses of Nolan Park and Colonels Row rededicated as workspace for artists and cultural workers. The Trust for Governors Island, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and 18 arts and culture organizations joined forces to introduce the Governors Island Residency Initiative to provide the space in response to the effects of COVID-19. LMCC’s Arts Center and the houses awarded through our Open Call for 2020 programming organizations provide enough space for over 115 artists chosen by the organizations to work in the buildings through the rest of the public access season. You can learn more about the artists in residence here.

GrowNYC's Teaching Garden in the Urban Farm. Photo by Vitally Pitlzer

Nolan Park and Colonels Row aren’t the only areas on the Island finding new use. GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden in the Urban Farm shifted focus this year from educating visitors and school groups about urban agriculture to full-on food production. They’re aiming to produce 20,000 pounds of food this year, which will be distributed to New Yorkers whose food security has been threatened by the effects of COVID-19. Across the road, Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center has remained focused on its mission of processing food waste and compostable materials collected on the Island and elsewhere into valuable compost to be distributed to gardens across the City. Both sites are open for passive visits on weekends, 12-4pm.

Governors Island-based Billion Oyster Project has also had a banner summer, between installing their first community reef in Queens and huge new tanks across the channel in Red Hook that can support up to 50 million juvenile oysters at once.

It was a record-breaking year for the Friends of Governors Island's volunteer program, too, with over 130 new volunteers joining 45 returning volunteers. This amazing group of volunteers helps welcome and orient visitors and works alongside our gardening team to tend to the Island's 120 acres of open space. So far they've provided a 131% increase in hours of service as compared to last year, demonstrating the impact every day New Yorkers can have giving back to the city they love.

Pizza Yard, one of the Island's new vendors in 2020, at the south end of Colonels Row. Photo by Timothy Schenck

The Island’s food and beverage options are more robust than ever this year with all13 of 2019’s vendors returning plus four new ones. Almost all are small businesses based in New York, and between them offer a globe-spanning selection of cuisines. This includes longtime favorites like Little Eva’s and Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights, Soissons Landing mainstays Island Oyster and Taco Vista, and newcomers like Pizza Yard, serving up Neapolitan-style pies on Colonels Row, and Terry & Yaki, whose teriyaki bowls come in vegan and halal varieties.

Visitors ride a surrey from Blazing Saddles. Photo by Timothy Schenck

This year marks the Trust for Governors Island’s tenth anniversary as the stewards of 150 acres of Governors Island. Head over to our blog to see highlights from the past decade as we look forward to the next one. We’ve been thrilled to welcome so many visitors to the Island this year to enjoy its sweeping parkland, scenic historic district, wide selection of food and drink vendors and more.

If you haven’t visited yet this year, you’ve still got time. Governors Island is open until November 1 for biking, hiking, grilling, or just hanging out in a hammock. We’d love to welcome you ashore.

What’s it like to have an in-person internship on Governors Island this summer?


Every year, the Friends of Governors Island welcomes a cohort of high-school and college age interns to join our Visitor Experience team. Despite the challenges facing NYC youth this summer—quarantine, adjusting to remote learning, and even forgoing graduation ceremonies—the Friends was grateful to continue our internship program in person this year. The program was made possible under these challenging circumstances thanks to a partnership with Futures and Options, a nonprofit organization that partners with New York’s business community to provide career opportunities for underserved youth, and businesses with a trained, educated, and diverse workforce, which connected Governors Island to most of the interns on the team. In fact, Governors Island was the only host site through which Futures and Options was able to offer in-person internships this summer. Oummoul, a rising senior at Frederick Douglass Academy in the Bronx and Futures and Options participant, spoke to the value of an in-person experience, “My experience this summer on Governors Island was truly amazing. I never thought I would have a great summer this year due to COVID-19, but this internship changed that.”

From July through mid-August, six interns worked alongside the Governors Island Visitor Experience team, gaining first-hand experience with visitors as greeters, data collectors, and through assisting with retail operations at Soissons Welcome Center. For many, being a Friends of Governors Island intern was their first job. Asher, a student at Friends Seminary, appreciated getting to interact with people looking to find escape on the Island. “During my internship at The Friends of Governors Island, I not only had the pleasure of working away from a busy and sometimes hectic New York City, but I also got to help visitors who wanted the same.”


In the photo above, Governors Island intern, Fidel, provides information to a visitor at the ferry terminal

“During my internship at The Friends of Governors Island, I not only had the pleasure of working away from a busy and sometimes hectic New York City, but I also got to help visitors who wanted the same."

Asher, Governors Island intern

As part of training to provide excellent visitor services, interns also experienced Governors Island like a visitor! Some activities included getting a free bike rental before noon on weekdays from Blazing Saddles, and visiting the Lavender Field and Soil Start Farm at Earth Matter. Interns also sampled several food vendors and trekked to The Hills. Jake, an incoming freshman at RIT, said, “I recommend getting an ice cream sandwich from Melt. And the views from Outlook Hill are amazing!”

This summer’s interns also felt first-hand the calming benefits of being outdoors, on an island in the harbor and were happy to share their love for green spaces with visitors. Aroa, a rising freshman at SUNY Oswego, found respite while working on the Island before her move to a new school: “[Governors Island] is a getaway from New York City. Really relaxing.”


The interns visit the Lavender Field with Earth Matter

"As a small nonprofit with limited staff resources, we rely on the interns to be our frontline in welcoming and orienting visitors to the Island. Thanks to this year's amazing crop of bright young students, we've been able to better serve the public at a time when people need access to quality outdoor space more than ever before."

Merritt Birnbaum, Friends Executive Director

In addition to meeting a weekly requirement of 25 hours per week of in-the-field visitor service experience, interns attended career development workshops focusing on resume building and financial literacy. They also had opportunities to connect with professionals from The Friends of Governors Island staff and board on topics like education, work experience, and career advice. For example, the Friends Board Chair, EB Kelly, shared her career trajectory from her time as a student to her current role managing Rockefeller Center.

Over the course of six weeks, interns provided nearly 1,000 hours of direct service and helped thousands of visitors. While gaining work experience is a goal for our interns, building meaningful connections with individuals on the Island and in the city they call home is also important to them during these uncertain times. Fidel, a student at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, says “Not only did I get to learn more about myself as a person, but I also got to meet great people along the way that I can rely on if I ever need help.” For the Friends, the feeling is mutual. Friends Executive Director, Merritt Birnbaum explained: “As a small nonprofit with limited staff resources, we rely on the interns to be our front-line in welcoming and orienting visitors to the Island. Thanks to this year’s amazing crop of bright young students, we’ve been able to better serve the public at a time when people need access to quality outdoor space more than ever before.”


Thank you to our Friends of Governors Island Internship class of 2020! L-R: Jake, Fidel, Leilani, Aroa, Oummoul, and Asher.

Spotlight on GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden


Since 2015, GrowNYC’sTeaching Garden has been a fixture in Governors Island’s Urban Farm, welcoming visitors on weekends during the public season and field trips of students throughout the year. This summer, with visitors allowed only for passive visits to Urban Farm sites, the Teaching Garden has shifted its focus from public programming to full-scale food production.

Laying out mulch at the Teaching Garden. Photo by Vitally Pitlzer

Last month, the New York Times covered GrowNYC’s new direction for the Teaching Garden this year, detailing how the staff had converted the one-acre garden’s demonstration farm rows to produce an abundance of berries, beets, collard greens, eggplants, herbs, squash, potatoes, and more. Previously, the Teaching Garden’s primary purpose as education center meant that most of its produce went home with visiting students, while some was sold at a farm stand or allowed to wither to demonstrate the plants’ life cycle. With the focus now shifted to production, GrowNYC Program Manager Shawn Connell, who oversees the Teaching Garden, estimates it could yield up to 20,000 pounds of produce or more this year.

Checking a row of eggplants. Photo by Vitally Pitlzer

All this produce is put to good use by groups from around the city that distribute it to New Yorkers whose food security has been threatened by the effects of COVID-19. Among their partner organizations is the Black Feminist Project, which takes produce deliveries from the Teaching Garden every other week to create free or low-cost coronavirus food relief boxes that are distributed to families across the southeastern Bronx.

A bowl of Teaching Garden-grown eggplants ready for distribution. Photo by Vitally Pitlzer

The Teaching Garden grows more than just vegetables; GrowNYC has also partnered this year with Brooklyn-based nonprofit BloomAgainBklyn to make use of the farm’s abundant flowers, as covered by the NY Daily News. BloomAgainBklyn turns the flowers into gorgeous arrangements that they distribute to nursing homes and frontline workers, spreading a little bit of the Teaching Garden’s natural abundance to even more who will appreciate it.

The 2020 Teaching Garden team. Photo by Amr Alfiky

Even without their usual crowds of visitors and school groups, GrowNYC is finding ways for the Teaching Garden to provide a valuable service to New Yorkers. If you’d like to see the Garden for yourself, swing by for a passive visit 12-4pm every weekend in the Urban Farm.

Header photo by Vitally Pitlzer

Celebrating 10 Years of The Trust for Governors Island


This month marks the tenth anniversary of the transfer of 150 acres of Governors Island to full City control, and the creation of the Trust for Governors Island, the entity responsible for the Island’s ongoing planning, operations and development. Over the past decade, the Trust and its community of partner organizations, tenants, visitors and supporters have transformed the Island into one of New York’s most beloved destinations and a resource for all New Yorkers.

Here’s a look at some landmark moments and major achievements from the last decade on Governors Island. Click the '+' or 'x' next to each entry to expand or collapse the content.

The Trust for Governors Island was formed in 2010 when 150 acres of the Island were transferred to full City control.A joint city-state agency, the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, had previously served as steward of the Island. Announced by Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Paterson, Assembly Speaker Silver and State Senator Squadron, The City created The Trust to oversee the operation, preservation, planning and redevelopment of 150 acres of the Island, with the remaining 22-acre Governors Island National Monument managed by the National Park Service


The Governors Island Park and Public Space Master Plan was released to the public in 2010.Following an international design competition, the award-winning plan lays out the redevelopment of 87 acres of the Island into new parkland and improves the Island’s resiliency in the face of climate change, raising much of the Island out of the 100-year flood plain along with other measures to ensure the park’s and Island’s longevity.

The Master Plan also allocated 33 acres of space for future development, to support the Island’s ongoing operations and expanded public access.


Governors Island has a long history of hosting public artworks throughout its historic and new landscapes. From hosting many installations by artists from around the world, including a series of works byMark di Suvero, commissioned in partnership with Storm King Art Center in 2012, to the Trust’s annual commissions program, to its seasonal art exhibitions by organizations from across the City, Governors Island has long been a go-to destination for art lovers.


The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) began its artist studio program in Building 110 in 2010 as one of the Island’s first year-round tenants. The program included studio space for 20+ artists to work in the building each season, which was open to the public on select Open Studios Weekends and laid the groundwork for LMCC’s eventual Arts Center at Governors Island.


Construction began on Phase 1 of the Park, which includes Liggett Terrace, Hammock Grove, the Hammock Grove Play Area and the Play Lawns in 2012. Over 1500 trees were planted in this phase of the new parkland!


To make way for the new parkland, structures from the Island’s Coast Guard era were demolished on the South Island, like this 11-story apartment building, the tallest on the Island. Much of the materials would be reused in the park’s construction, particularly in The Hills.

The Trust for Governors Island has made many improvements to the Island’s infrastructure over the past decade, not the least of which includes bringing potable water to the Island in 2014.


Phase 1 of the park opened in 2013, welcoming visitors to brand-new public spaces like the redesigned Liggett Terrace and the visitor-favorite Hammock Grove across 30 acres of open space.


Shortly after Phase 1 of the park opened, construction on the next phase, The Hills, began. Consisting of four artificial hills and 10 more acres of open space, The Hills are the culminating feature of the new parkland and the newest landmark in New York Harbor.


Construction on The Hills continued for two years and involved the use of almost 300,000 cubic yards of material and the planting of nearly 43,000 shrubs and 1,000 more trees. The Granite Scramble was constructed using pieces of the Island’s previous sea wall, which was replaced with a more resilient wave barrier.


As part of the Island’s public art program, Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread’s sculpture, Cabin, was installed on Discovery Hill during construction in 2015. Cabin, situated along Discovery Hill’s naturalistic paths, creates a sense of peaceful seclusion that contrasts with the skyline on the horizon.


In 2015, the Trust announced another new Island tenant: Italian spa company QC Terme, which would renovate three buildings on the Island to create an affordable, year-round destination day spa, now under construction.


Since 2010, over $400 million has been invested in Governors Island by the City of New York. This has paid for everything from the sprawling new parkland and its resiliency measures (pictured above, resilient 'riprap' being installed to mediate wave action) to transportation and utility infrastructure upgrades including an additional, purpose-built ferry vessel.


In his State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the next phase of Governors Island’s transformation, including plans to expand the use of its historic buildings and development areas for new education, cultural and commercial innovation uses.


The Hills opened to the public in 2016, allowing visitors to experience a new landmark in the Harbor unlike any other. The tallest of the Hills, Outlook Hill rises 70 feet above sea level to provide uninterrupted, 360-degree views of Lower Manhattan and the surrounding skylines as well as Harbor sites like the Statue of Liberty.


In 2017, Governors Island remained open to the public through October for the first time, allowing visitors to experience its scenic settings in a new season.


The Trust for Governors Island relaunched its public art commission program in 2017 to create site-specific artworks by renowned artists for this truly unique setting, starting with David Brooks’ Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird (above). In 2018, Jacob Hashimoto created The Eclipse (above), displayed in St. Cornelius Chapel, and Never Comes Tomorrow in Liggett Archway. In 2019, Shantell Martin created Church and The May Room (above) using the exterior and interior of the deconsecrated former chapel Our Lady Star of the Sea.


Governors Island has become a foodie paradise over the years with its diverse selection of food and beverage vendors during the public season. From the Jamaican fusion cuisine of Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights to other favorites like Taco Vista, Threes Brewing, Makina Café and Kimchi Taco, everyone will find something to satisfy them on Governors Island. In 2019, Soissons Landing dining destination Island Oyster, above, was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for Restaurant Design!


The Trust for Governors Island commissioned Rhode Island-based Blount Boats to construct a brand-new vessel, the Governors 1, to increase service between the Island and Manhattan during the public season. The 400-passenger new ferry launched in summer 2019.


Following its use as a venue for artist studios, LMCC and the Trust partnered on a renovation of Building 110 into the first permanent home for the arts on Governors Island. LMCC’s new Arts Center includes galleries for exhibitions and installations, space for public programs, year-round studio areas for up to 40 artists, and a café.


The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School offers a unique high school curriculum based around seven educational tracks covering different aspects of maritime studies, from aquaculture and ocean engineering to professional diving and vessel operations. In 2019, the Harbor School celebrated its 10th school year on Governors Island.

Every year, the American Planning Association designates a number of Great Places across the United States. Governors Island was honored to be named one of 2019’s Great Public Spaces.


More and more organizations from across the City and beyond have established a presence on Governors Island, joining the Island’s community of seasonal arts, science and culture program presenters. In 2019, 30 organizations based primarily in Nolan Park, Colonels Row and the Urban Farm, like the American Indian Community House (above), Pioneer Works, Climate Museum (above), 4heads (above), West Harlem Arts Fund, New Art Dealers Alliance (above), Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts and GrowNYC (above) presented over 70 free programs during the public season.


Governors Island has seen more and more visitors stepping ashore every year—an average 16% increase in visitors each year since 2010. In 2019, nearly 800,000 visitors shipped out for an Island excursion! In total, over 6 million visitors have taken a trip to Governors Island since it opened to the public.

As the Trust enters a new decade of stewarding Governors Island and pursuing its ongoing transformation and, we look forward to making the Island an even more robust resource for all New Yorkers for years to come.

Tenant Spotlight: Billion Oyster Project’s New Community Reef in Queens and Oyster Tanks in Red Hook


Billion Oyster Project, headquartered here on Governors Island, is making great strides in their mission to restore the biodiversity-boosting bivalves to New York Harbor this summer. This entry, taken from their blog, highlights their new community oyster reef (their first in Queens!) and another one details the huge new oyster tanks they've installed in Red Hook.

Monday, July 20, was a BIG day at Billion Oyster Project! The installation of 96 bags of shell, with nearly 29,000 oysters in the form of "spat", was completed by an all-women crew along the warm, but picturesque waterfront in Bayswater Point State Park.

Although we had pictured this day with local students, educators, and volunteers by our side, nearly 100 people joined us LIVE on Instagram to watch the action unfold!

"I'm really excited to be here today" said Tatiana Castro, Restoration Field Coordinator at Billion Oyster Project. "We have been working on this project for a long time and are happy to be putting these babies in the water to see how they can grow in this location."

Of the 96 bags installed, 16 were made of coconut fiber. We are experimenting with this alternative to plastic in hopes of moving towards the use of more sustainable materials across our reef sites.

This project would not have been possible without our partners Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and New York State Parks, as well as support from Simons Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation.

We can't wait to monitor this spat on shell (pictured above) later this season. Then, when we return to monitor next summer, we hope to find that the oysters have become adults, spawned, and that the blank shells have new larvae settled on them.

Announcing the Governors Island Residency Initiative


The Trust for Governors Island, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and 18cultural organizations with space on Governors Island are joining forces to host free residency programs for artists and cultural practitioners that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, helping to combat the devastating impact of the pandemic on the NYC cultural landscape.

The Governors Island Residency Initiative will reposition indoor spaces that were used in years past for exhibitions and public programming as residencies or workspaces for artists and other members of the City’s cultural community from August to October this year. Open to artists, writers, cultural workers and creative practitioners living and working across the five boroughs, the Initiative will provide free, temporary space to work in LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island and more than 20 historic houses in the Island’s Nolan Park and Colonels Row districts, overseen by a diverse group of cultural and educational nonprofits. After postponing all indoor public programs, organizations are pivoting their spaces to participate in the Initiative and accommodate artists in need. Artists can apply now to LMCC's Open Call for residency proposals.

New York City’s cultural community is undergoing an unprecedented level of disruption, with many experiencing either a loss of income or unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists and other cultural workers in New York and elsewhere may not be able to access or afford dedicated space to work, think, research, write, plan, rehearse and otherwise further their creative practices.

“Right now, creative solutions are needed to help the artistic community get back to work after months of disruption and shutdown,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “By partnering with the Island’s vibrant community of cultural organizations and LMCC, we can make better use of available space on the Island, while helping to support the artists that have played such an important role in shaping our history, values and identity. We look forward to welcoming an exciting group of artists and creatives for the rest of the summer and fall.”

All participating organizations will manage their own selection processes and oversee their own, independent residency programs in their spaces, including LMCC, which will launch an open call application process on Thursday, July 23 through LMCC.net.

“LMCC, the Trust for Governors Island, and the Island’s community of cultural organizations are uniquely positioned to share space, resources and programmatic opportunities for valuable cultural workers,” said Lili Chopra, LMCC’s Executive Director, Artistic Programs. “We are united in partnership to create an initiative that serves artists in our five boroughs in a just, equitable and sustainable way.”

“LMCC is committed to alleviating the unprecedented level of disruption to artists’ practices, loss of income and employment, by providing them space and support during the COVID-19 pandemic,” commented Diego S. Segalini, LMCC’s Executive Director, Finance & Administration.

“Governors Island is a truly magical place that provides the space and time for artistic production and research not possible in other parts of the City,” said Meredith Johnson, VP of Arts and Culture at The Trust for Governors Island, “The cultural organizations that call the Island home shape the cultural landscape of New York in myriad ways, and as we face one of our most uncertain moments in recent history we are grateful to have such a dedicated group of partners to mobilize efforts and pool our resources in support of the City’s cultural future.”

Once artists are in their spaces, LMCC, the Trust, and participating organizations will come together to share resources and organize virtual gatherings for artists working on the Island.

As a diverse set of institutions—spanning the arts, sciences, culture and the environment—organizations participating in the Governors Island Residency Initiative are guided by a shared set of values and priorities that will inform their individual approaches tooutreach and the selection of residency participants:

  • Serving artists and cultural workers in need of workspace in the wake of COVID-19;
  • Ensuring that artists and cultural practitioners of diverse racial identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations from across NYC have access to this opportunity and are being represented in the Initiative;
  • Seeking out artists and cultural workers whose practices give back to, or aim to make positive change within, the NYC cultural community and/or the City at large;
  • Seeking out artists and cultural workers whose practices address important socio-political issues, including but not limited to public health, gender discrimination, immigration, racial equity, climate change and environmental justice;
  • Seeking out artists and cultural workers whose practices will benefit from working on Governors Island as a public space serving diverse audiences.

Participating organizations include:

  • 4heads
  • American Indian Community House
  • ArtCrawl Harlem
  • Beam Center
  • BronxArtSpace
  • Climate Museum
  • Endangered Language Alliance
  • Harvestworks
  • LMCC
  • NARS Foundation
  • New Art Dealers Alliance
  • NY Virtual Volcano Observatory
  • NYC Audubon
  • Pratt Institute School of Architecture
  • Shandaken Projects
  • Swale
  • Triangle Arts Association
  • West Harlem Art Fund
  • Works on Water

The Trust for Governors Island oversees a vibrant arts and cultural program, inviting a range of organizations to present exhibitions and programs in the Island’s historic houses each season while presenting impactful public art projects to diverse audiences. Artist residencies and studio programs have been part of the Island’s cultural fabric since it first opened to the public in 2005. Current and past on-Island residencies include those by LMCC, Shandaken Projects, 4heads, Triangle Arts Association, MoCADA, Pioneer Works, Syracuse University, SVA, Works on Water and more. In 2019, LMCC opened its Arts Center at Governors Island, the first permanent home for artists and audiences on Governors Island that serves as a gathering place and incubator for new works.

Your Guide to What’s Open on Governors Island


Governors Island is now open. Before visiting the Island, please familiarize yourself with our health and safety protocols. Visitors are required to wear face coverings on the ferry and the Island, and must reserve tickets in advance here.

This year, the Island is open for passive recreation activities like biking, birding, and picnicking. There is currently no indoor programming on Governors Island. Read on for a list of what’s open, and see what’s closed at the end of this post. Have a great time on Governors Island and remember to stay 6 feet apart!

Food and Drink
Governors Island is an outdoor dining destination! Sample a wide variety of cuisines like Jamaican fusion at Fauzia's, tasty tacos (and incredible views) at Taco Vista, wood-fired pizza at Pizza Yard, sweet treats from People's Pops and many more delicious options. All Governors Island vendors have introduced enhanced health and safety measures. See the full lineup of new vendors and returning favorites here.

Wide-open Parkland
Soak up Governors Island's ample green space. Lie back in Hammock Grove, hike up The Hills to take in the view, bring a meal and dine al fresco at Picnic Point, and discover everything our parkland has to offer. Ship out and take in the fresh air, lush foliage and sweeping views in the park.

Public Art
See incredible works by award-winning artists throughout the Island. From Shantell Martin's Church, a commission for our 2019 season, to Rachel Whiteread's Cabin, nestled serenely on Discovery Hill, Governors Island provides a setting for public art unlike any other. It's a can't-miss trip for art lovers!

Island History
Take a stroll through history with Urban Archive. Embark on the official Governors Island Digital Walking Tour to learn the history of the Island and see stunning archival photos on Urban Archive. Then, discover other walks that examine different parts of the Island's past. Governors Island's history comes to life on Urban Archive.

Bike the Island
Cyclists, rejoice: seven miles of car-free paths are now yours to pedal. Bring your bike on the ferry for free or rent one when you get the Island, then set out on a scenic spin. Blazing Saddles rents bikes, scooters, surreys and more every day (with free one-hour rentals before noon on weekdays) and three Citi Bike stations make it easy to get moving.

Urban Farm
Dig into environmental science at the Urban Farm! GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden features over 20 vegetable beds made from recycled plastic lumber, farm-style rows, an aquaponics system, a high tunnel greenhouse, fruit trees, several rainwater harvesting systems, a rain garden, and more. Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center processes all of the food scraps and landscape debris generated on Governors Island, and some Manhattan residential collections. Much of the compost is used here on Governors Island! The Urban Farm is open for passive visits only, Saturdays and Sundays 12-4PM.

The following attractions are currently closed. Please check back for more updates.

Governors Island National Monument: Castle Williams and Fort Jay are closed to the public. Learn more at nps.gov/gois

Adventures at GI: All attractions including mini-golf, the zipline and puzzle maze are currently closed.

LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island: Galleries and café are closed to the public. Bathrooms are still open—enter at Soissons Landing.

Indoor Programming: There are no indoor public programs in Nolan Park and Colonels Row. The houses are off-limits to visitors.

Playground NYC’s The Yard: currently closed to the public.

Free kayaking with the Downtown Boathouse: The Pier 102 kayak dock is currently closed to the public and free kayaking sessions are not being offered.

Governors Island Reopens to the Public on July 15


NEW YORK (July 8, 2020) —The Trust for Governors Island announced today that Governors Island will reopen to the public with limited capacity for passive recreational activities on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Starting that day, Governors Island will be open to visitors daily from 10AM to 6PM on weekdays and 10AM to 7PM on weekends.In order to serve New Yorkers most in need of open space, The Trust is launching an extensive outreach initiative and offering free ferries to all New York City Housing Authority residents and community organizations across the city. Brooklyn ferries will also be redirected from Pier 6 to Red Hook’s Atlantic Basin, beginningSaturday, July 18.

The Trust initially postponed its 2020 season in April in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and for the health and safety of its visitors, staff, tenants, vendors and community of cultural organizations. To ensure a safe environment for all visitors, The Trust will launch a number of health, safety and social distancing protocols upon reopening, including a new ticket reservation system to manage capacity on ferries. With these measures in place, visitors will be able to safely enjoy the Island’s wide-open park spaces, historic surroundings, and stunning public art while engaging in passive recreation activities like biking, birding, picnicking and much more.

“Equitable access to open spaces in our city has never been more important, so we’re thrilled to welcome New Yorkers to Governors Island in just a few short weeks,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “This summer, Governors Island will be an affordable, local getaway for New Yorkers who need it most.We’ve focused on a plan to make the Island more accessible to New Yorkers in areas underserved by parks this season, and have taken important steps to ensure the health and safety of our visitors. We look forward to seeing everyone on the ferry!”

“Governors Island is an idyllic place for New Yorkers to spread out and enjoy summer in the City,” said Alicia Glen, Chair of the Trust for Governors Island. “While the season was cut short by the pandemic, the Trust has worked around the clock to increase access to the Island for those hardest hit. I look forward to enjoying the views from the Island’s fabulous outdoor dining spots – thank you to the Trust staff and all of our partners for giving New Yorkers safe and secure access to one of the City’s true gems.”

“We’re thrilled to reopen Governors Island this July, in order to provide New Yorkers even more ways to celebrate summer, safely,” said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been. “Governors Island has put smart, thoughtful plans in place to ensure safety and to be a respite for communities across the five boroughs at a time when open space is needed more than ever. As in all parks, for your safety and for those around you, visitors should continue to practice social distancing and wear a face covering when on the ferry and while enjoying all that the Island has to offer.”

“As New Yorkers seek opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor spaces where they can maintain social distancing and adhere to health guidelines, the re-opening of Governors Island comes at the perfect moment,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “This summer, the public will once again be able to explore the history, green spaces, and excellent views of the Manhattan skyline available on Governors Island. I thank the Trust for Governors Island for expanding access to the Island’s invaluable open space to more New Yorkers during this time by waiving ferry fees for NYCHA residents, seniors and select community-based organizations.”

“This announcement is great news for Red Hook and our entire City. Although social distancing is far from over, public outdoor spaces provide a much-needed escape from the confines of our homes,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. “With Red Hook’s ball fields still closed, the reopening of Governors Island is an excellent alternative for families to enjoy open spaces and fresh air. Red Hook residents have always enjoyed a great view of Governors Island, but still find it inconvenient to get there. This will change with this summer’s direct ferry service from Red Hook, offering recreational opportunities exactly when families yearn for outdoor summer fun. I am particularly thankful that the Trust has offered free ferry service to NYCHA residents and local community groups, which will mean even more of our neighbors can visit the Island this summer. I am looking forward to enjoying the fresh air and cannot wait to see the island alive with activity once more.”

“At a time when New Yorkers need good news, I'm thrilled Governors Island will be open this summer,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.“The Council has been fighting to save summer for as many New Yorkers as possible, and to have a gem like this one open and accessible is a big win. The Council is glad to see the Trust for Governors Island has a plan to ensure New Yorkers are able to enjoy this beautiful space safely, and I encourage all New Yorkers to continue practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings as recommended by health officials.”

"Summer is not cancelled, with responsible planning! I thank the Trust for Governors Island for all its work to make this reopening possible" said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. "Our public parks are a public health resource, and I am thrilled that this 172-acre gem in the heart of New York Harbor will soon be open for families to enjoy and safely social distance. With free ferries being offered to our neighbors at NYCHA and local community groups, I highly encourage all of my constituents to come out and enjoy the sun. Thank you to Clare Newman and all the staff at the Trust for their unwavering commitment to protecting New Yorkers' health and safety this summer and expanding access to open space."

“As the City recovers, we need more parks and large spaces to reopen so New Yorkers can enjoy the summer while social distancing. Governors Island's plan to move a ferry stop to Red Hook and provide free ferries for NYCHA residents strikes that balance perfectly. I am proud to support their reopening plan and look forward to joining residents there to take in the unparalleled sight of New York Harbor flanked by Red Hook, Manhattan, and the Statue of Liberty,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“As we implement new ways for New Yorkers to enjoy the outdoors while also safely social distancing, news that the 172 acres of Governors Island will re-open to New Yorkers is an exciting boost to our city's open space capacity,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. “I am particularly thankful to the Trust for offering free ferry service to some of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic, namely seniors and NYCHA residents. With partnerships like this, we can ensure a safe and enjoyable summer for vulnerable New Yorkers who are seeking some time outside their homes.”

"I adore Governors Island-- it's considered part of Manhattan, after all-- so I'll be thrilled to be able to visit again once it reopens, even under the needed social-distancing guidelines on the ferries and beyond," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I applaud the Trust for Governors Island for launching free ferry reservations for NYCHA residents and community organizations-- giving everyone the chance to enjoy free recreational open space when we need it most."

“This is welcome news for the residents of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and all New Yorkers who appreciate the wonders of Governors Island,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents the Island and nearby parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. “After spending much of the year sheltering in place, we now can venture out to explore Governors Island’s lush greens, wide-open spaces, breathtaking views, and historic architecture. I applaud the Trust for Governors Island for their stewardship of the island, and their efforts to reopen access with appropriate social distancing and safety guidelines in place for the benefit of all visitors.”

"I thank the Trust for Governors Island for thinking of all New Yorkers by providing ferry service from Atlantic Basin/Red Hook to Governors Island this year," said Assistant New York State Assembly Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. "There has never been a more important time to provide all community members access to fresh air and the ability to maintain social distancing. The free ferry rides for NYCHA residents will ensure everyone has equal access to this beautiful Island. Fresh air, open space and a stunning view is just what we all need now."

"Manhattan Community Board 1 and the lower Manhattan community are excited for the re-opening of Governors Island,” said Anthony Notaro, Jr., Chairperson, Manhattan Community Board 1. “This jewel of our city will offer a welcome environment for all to enjoy. Although initially, there will be a limit on the capacity of the island, it is a sign of moving into the future in a positive way."

“People in our district, and across the city, are going to need more and more safe open space as this pandemic continues through the summer,” said Michael Racioppo, District Manager, Brooklyn Community Board 6. To that point we’re always happy when Governors Island opens up, but especially this year”

“We can’t wait to welcome New Yorkers back to Governors Island to enjoy a true escape from the concrete jungle,” said Merritt Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island. “At a time when our city needs open green space more than ever, the Island brings fresh air, cool harbor breezes and plenty of room to bike, picnic and relax. We’re so grateful to our supporters and volunteers for helping us make the 2020 season safe and welcoming for everyone.”


Beginning July 15, ferries will depart daily from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street in Manhattan. Capacity on Governors Island’s ferries will be limited during the 2020 season to allow for social distancing. For the first time, visitors will be able to reserve tickets in advance through a new reservation system.A limited number of tickets will be available for purchase in person for each time slot, and will be made available to the general public on Friday, July 10 at 10:00AM by visiting govisland.org.

To increase access for communities less served by open space in New York City, Brooklyn ferries to Governors Island will depart from Atlantic Basin/Red Hook rather than Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 in 2020. Brooklyn ferries will begin service on Saturday, July 18 and will run on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets for Brooklyn Ferries may also be reserved at govisland.org beginning July 10.

Round-trip ferry tickets will cost $3 for adults. Ferries are always free for riders age 12 and under as well as Governors Island Members, IDNYC holders and current and former military service members. Ferries are now also free for all residents of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing and seniors 65 and over. Morning ferries before noon on Saturdays and Sundays are free for all. There is no surcharge for bicycles at any time. Visitors are required to wear face coverings at all times while traveling on Governors Island ferries.

The Trust will offer special waived fares for non-profit community-based organizations, youth camps, and senior centers throughout New York City. To inquire about special group visits, organizations may email groupvisits@govisland.org.

The city’s NYC Ferry service will offer additional connections to Governors Island’s Yankee Pier via a dedicated weekend shuttle from Wall Street/Pier 11 which will operate approximately every 30 minutes. Tickets are $2.75 or by free transfer from any NYC Ferry route. All visitors who arrive to Governors Island via NYC Ferry are strongly encouraged to depart using NYC Ferry as the Governors Island ferry service will operate on a reservation ticket service and walk-up tickets are not guaranteed. NYC Ferry riders are required to wear a mask or face covering while onboard, even on the upper deck. For ticketing information and for a full schedule, please visit www.ferry.nyc.


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governors Island will operate with limited services and will remain open for passive recreation activities only, such as hiking, walking and running, biking and birding throughout its expansive landscapes.

Visitors can enjoy sweeping, 360-degree views of the surrounding skylines and Harbor landmarks like the Statue of Liberty from the summit of Outlook Hill. Hammock Grove provides a relaxing respite in comfortable hammocks tucked cozily into secluded pockets in the foliage. Kids will enjoy climbing and swinging at the Hammock Grove Play Area and zipping down Slide Hill’s collection of twist-y, turn-y slides including a tandem slide and the longest slide in the city at 57 feet long. The Urban Farm will be open Saturdays and Sundays for visitors to explore GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden and Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center.

Public art installations remain on view, including Shantell Martin’s The May Room, a commission for the 2019 season, Rachel Whiteread’s Cabin, a permanent installation on Discovery Hill, and more.

Bike rentals will be available from Blazing Saddles and Citi Bike, and visitors may bring their own bikes on Governors Island ferries for no additional fee to enjoy the Island’s seven miles of car-free bike paths. Blazing Saddles also rents pedal cars, surreys, scooters and more and will offer free one-hour bike rentals on weekday mornings before noon. Heightened cleaning and safety protocols will also be implemented.

Visitors will be able to embark on self-guided tours offered through Urban Archive. Visitors can follow the physical route of these walks across the Island using their smartphones, revealing new historic photos as they go. A variety of Governors Island self-guided walks exploring its history and transformation are available on govisland.org and through Urban Archive’s app.


Food and beverage vendors offering a wide range of options will be available for Island visitors to enjoy upon reopening. AllGovernors Island vendors will comply with the latest food service guidelines and adhere to health and safety plans that minimize person-to-person contact, emphasize hygiene, and allow for social distancing in serving areas.

This year’s vendors present at opening will include:

  • Island Oyster, a one-of-a-kind destination featuring easygoing summer fare, tropically inspired cocktails and panoramic views
  • Taco Vista, purveyors of tacos, margaritas, craft beer and some of the best views from Governors Island
  • Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights, an award-winning Jamaican-fusion establishment offering Caribbean classics and homemade desserts as well as vegan and gluten-free options
  • Kimchi Taco, which serves Korean-inspired tacos and bowls as well as appetizers
  • Makina, which serves traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean food with a modern twist
  • Threes Brewing and The Meat Hook, two Brooklyn mainstays that will combine local craft beer options with offerings from the acclaimed butcher shop
  • The refreshing, delicious gourmet ice pops and slushes of People’s Pops
  • Melt Bakery, whose unique cookie and ice cream flavor pairings create surprising and delightful ice cream sandwiches
  • Venezuelan-style hot dogs complete with mounds of toppings and accompaniments from Perros Y Vainas
  • Coffee and tea plus sweet treats and light bites from Joe Coffee
  • Shareable snacks and takeaway lunch options from Three Peaks Lodge at Collective Retreats
  • Little Eva’s, a longtime Island establishment offering summertime grilled fare as well as sister location, Sea Biscuit, which features picturesque Harbor views
  • Pizza Yard brings gourmet Neapolitan and Roman-style wood-fired pizzas to historic Colonels Row
  • Sweet and savory crepes from Everything About Crepes make a perfect lunch, snack or dessert
  • Wings Lovers offers a robust range of flavors and options to satisfy any chicken wing enthusiast
  • Terry & Yaki specializes in halal teriyaki chicken bowls along with vegan options and snacks
  • Authentic Belgian waffles heaped with tasty toppings at Wafels & Dinges


For the safety of visitors, the Trust will implement increased cleaning protocols and schedules in all restrooms, in passenger compartments aboard ferries, and in high-touch areas across the Island.

Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be installed throughout the Island.Ferries, restrooms, ATMs, bike rentals through Blazing Saddles and Citi Bikes will also be regularly disinfected. These and other steps will be taken to ensure a safe and healthy visit for Island patrons.

All visitors will be required to wear face coverings while riding the ferry, or when social distancing is not possible.


Following local, state and federal guidelines, some changes will be implemented to Governors Island amenities. Outdoor event permits and permits for team athletic field use will be postponed until at least August 1, and indoor public programs will be postponed until at least August 31. Governors Island National Monument, including Fort Jay and Castle Williams, will remain temporarily closed. For updates on service changes on Governors Island, please visit www.govisland.org.


During its reduced season, New Yorkers will continue to enjoy access to the best of Governors Island and its programming, whether they are able to visit in person or not. In May, The Trust launched Governors Island at Home, a hub of free interactive tours, resources and virtual programs related to the Island’s history and natural surroundings, as well as its community of programming partner organizations. Governors Island at Home can be accessed at govisland.org.

For the latest information, including ferry schedules and service changes in response to COVID-19, please visit www.govisland.org.

To Our Community


Black Lives Matter. The Trust for Governors Island and Friends of Governors Island stand with all who condemn systematic racism, violence and injustices against black people and communities of color.

It is more important than ever that public spaces, including our own, do more to increase accessibility and amplify the diverse voices of New York City. We re-commit ourselves to constantly examining and strengthening our continued efforts to ensure that Governors island is a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for all.

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