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Governors Island Extends Weekend Hours with Late Friday and Saturday Nights this Summer


NEW YORK (June 3, 2021)—The Trust for Governors Island announced today the expansion of weekend late night hours on the Island for summer 2021. From Independence Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, Governors Island will be open to visitors until 10:00 p.m. on all Fridays and Saturdays, adding nearly four extra hours on Fridays and three extra hours on Saturdays for visitors to explore the spectacular open spaces, attractions, vistas and vendors the Island has to offer.

Governors Island will be accessible during these expanded evening hours with ferry service from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street in Manhattan. This expanded ferry service will allow visitors to enjoy the Island on Friday and Saturday nights between July 2 and September 4. Complete ferry schedules can be viewed at www.govisland.org, with tickets for late Fridays and Saturdays in July available starting today.

“As the city reopens and New Yorkers spend more time outdoors, we are excited to offer expanded weekend hours to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy all that Governors Island has to offer later into the evening,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “We can't wait to welcome visitors back to enjoy the iconic skyline sunsets and twinkling lights of the city from here in the heart of the Harbor once again.”

“Whether you’re looking for a lively cocktail scene, a casual dinner under the stars, or a just tranquil spot to watch the sunset, late nights on Governors Island offer a much-needed summer escape for everyone,” said Merritt Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island. “We're delighted to welcome all New Yorkers to enjoy this evening oasis in the heart of our city.”

Many of Governors Island’s beloved food vendors will offer evening eats and drinks as part of the expanded nighttime hours, including the James Beard Foundation Award-nominated restaurant Island Oyster; wood-fired pizza outpost Pizza Yard; Taco Vista, home to some of the best views and tacos in New York City; Makina Café, an eatery famous for its Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine; summertime grilled fare maestros Little Eva’s and Sea Biscuit; the brews-and-burgers partnership between Threes Brewing and The Meat Hook; and for dessert, Melt Bakery’s enticing ice cream sandwiches. Blazing Saddles bike rentals will also expand bicycle availability until sunset, allowing Island visitors a chance to enjoy twilight rides. Additional late-night vendors, activities and special programs will be announced throughout the season.


Governors Island ferries run daily between the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street in Manhattan and Soissons Landing on the Island. This year Governors Island ferries also serve two Brooklyn locations on weekends: Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Basin in Red Hook. These routes run directly to Governors Island from each location every Saturday, Sunday and holiday Monday all season long.

Visitors must reserve ferry tickets in advance of their trip to Governors Island, and face coverings are required while boarding and riding ferries. Tickets are available through an online reservation system at www.govisland.org. Governors Island ferries are always free for children 12 and under, seniors 65 and up, residents of NYCHA housing, IDNYC holders, current and former military servicemembers and Governors Island members. Ferries before noon on Saturdays and Sundays are free for all. Round-trip ferry tickets cost $3 for adults at all other times. There is no surcharge for bicycles or strollers at any time. The Trust also offers waived fares for non-profit community-based organizations, youth camps, and senior centers throughout New York City. To inquire about group visits, organizations may email groupvisits@govisland.org.

NYC Ferry also offers additional connections to Governors Island's Yankee Pier via a dedicated weekend shuttle from Wall Street/Pier 11. Ticketing information and full schedules are available at www.ferry.nyc.

See everything to do on Governors Island this opening weekend


Get ready to enjoy all of your favorite things to do on Governors Island—we reopen to visitors on Saturday, May 1! Below you’ll find everything you can discover during this year’s opening weekend. Plan your trip, book ferry tickets, and ship out for a packed (or relaxed) day on our shore.

The park, open space, and recreation:

120 acres of open space provide ample room to spread out with a picnic, play games, or just watch the clouds float by. Head to the Island’s park to relax in Hammock Grove’s cozy hammocks (and say hello to the sheep!), find breathtaking 360-degree views in The Hills, get moving on the Play Lawns, and camp out in an Adirondack chair at Picnic Point.

Kids and families will love playgrounds like the Hammock Grove Play Area, the water feature at Liggett Terrace, and Slide Hill’s collection of twist-y, turn-y slides. Head to the south end of Nolan Park on weekends 12-4pm to play at play:groundNYC’s The Yard, NYC’s only adventure playground where kids can unleash their imaginations and build their own fun.

Seven miles of car-free paths make Governors Island a pedaler’s paradise. Bring your bike on the ferry for no charge or rent bikes, surreys, pedal cars, scooters and more from Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals, or from three Citi Bike stations across the Island.

Adventures at Governors Island also returns to entice thrill seekers of all ages. Visitors can purchase ticket packages to fly down a zipline, challenge a climbing wall, puzzle through a problem-solving maze, and play a round of mini-golf just steps from Liggett Terrace.

Not for Nutten by Duke Riley. Photo by Timothy Schenck

Free arts, culture and science activities:

See public artworks by world-renowned artists across Governors Island. Before stepping ashore, visitors departing from Manhattan can see a new mural by Duke Riley in the Governors Island Ferry Waiting Room at the Battery Maritime Building. This new commission by the Trust for Governors Island, Not for Nutten, is a richly pigmented homage to nautical traditions and the Island's history that draws attention to modern climate concerns. Previous commissions on view include Shantell Martin’s Church on Colonels Row, Rachel Whiteread’s Cabin on Discovery Hill, and Mark Handforth’s Yankee Hanger at Liggett Terrace.

Arts, culture and science programs return in and around the historic houses of Nolan Park and Colonels Row. This weekend, see PHREATIC!, an exhibition of works by interdisciplinary artists exploring symbiotic ecologies, multispecies interactions and earthliness at points of disruption presented by NYU’s Gallatin School at the New York Virtual Volcano Observatory house, Nolan Park 11, 11AM–5PM. On view outside West Harlem Art Fund at Nolan Park 10, see two public art installations: Regatta III/8 Candy Blue & Teal by Gilbert Boro and Garden Sentinel by Michele Brody. More exhibitions open next weekend, including works by students and faculty at Pratt Institute’s Graduate Architecture and Urban Design program, a group exhibition of photography, film and more at Protocinema, and New Art Dealers Alliance’s NADA House, which includes works by over 50 artists across five houses on Colonels Row.

The Urban Farm also reopens 12–4PM this weekend for visitors to engage with environmental learning programs at GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden, a working urban farm with rows of crops, greenhouses and more, and Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center and Soil Start Farm, a fully functioning compost center that turns material from all over the city into nutritious compost for use on the Island and elsewhere.

Visitors can also take guided tours of the Island with Friends of Governors Island volunteer docents, leaving from Soissons Landing on Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30AM, 1:30PM, and 3:30PM. Or, embark on a self-guided tour through the Island’s history with stunning archival photographs on Urban Archive’s app or website, with a variety of tours available.

Island Oyster. Photo by Radhika Chalasani

Food and drink:

Governors Island’s vendors serve up a wide variety of cuisines to satisfy any craving. From drinks, snack and sweet treats to more substantial options, find our food and beverage vendors across the Island:

  • At Soissons Landing, find Island Oyster’s summer fare and tropically inspired cocktails, and Taco Vista’s tasty tacos and cool drinks with a view
  • Pizza Yard dishes out wood-fried Neapolitan-style pizzas at the south end of Colonels Row
  • On the western shore, grab small plates and drinks at Sea Biscuit or stop by Three Peaks Lodge at Collective Retreats for cocktails and takeaway options
  • Liggett Terrace features many options including Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights’ Jamaican fusion cuisine; coffee, tea and treats from Joe Coffee; Korean-inspired tacos, bowls and snacks at Kimchi Taco; eclectic takes on classic grill fare at Little Eva’s; Makina Café's modern Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine; Melt Bakery’s artisanal ice cream sandwiches; Terry and Yaki’s teriyaki bowls with vegan and halal options; and Threes Brewing’s tasty brews and The Meat Hook’s satisfying sandwiches in a shared shaded garden
  • Keep an eye out for People’s Pops’ uniquely flavored pops and shave ice and Mai Bpen Rai’s Thai-style green papaya salad roving across the Island

If you’d rather cook up your own meal, grills are available by reservation. Reservations are required, with grilling stations available at Picnic Point and near Nolan Park.

You can expect all of this and more this opening weekend. There’s plenty more to see and do on Governors Island in 2021—check back here and follow us on social media for the latest updates. See you on the ferry!

Herd Around Town: Trust for Governors Island Announces New Sheep Employees


NEW YORK (April 19, 2021)--Today, the Trust for Governors Island officially introduced its five newest employees to New York City—a family of five sheep. These fluffy friends—Flour, Sam, Evening, Chad, and Philip Aries—hail from Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm in Albany and will spend the next four to five months on Governors Island, helping to control invasive plant species in beautiful Hammock Grove by eating them.

Sheep’s love for herbaceous plants, such as grasses, phragmites and flowering plants like mugwort and sunflowers make them a natural fit to join the Island’s horticultural division. Replete with such delicacies (phragmites being the sheep’s favorite), the flock will live on the Island, enjoying a lush grove and eating its invasive plants all summer long.

“The shear genius of this idea lies in its simplicity. On behalf of the thousands of New Yorkers flocking to open space on Governors Island every season, I want to thank Flour, Sam, Evening, Chad, and Philip Aries for doing their part to bring New York City baaaack,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Bon appetit, fellas.”

“The sheep are very happy to be joining us on Governors Island for the summer, and we are thrilled to have them here,” said Clare Newman, President & CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “This innovative, environmentally friendly landscaping program will protect our Island’s plant life from invasive species while allowing our horticulture team to spend their time on more productive pursuits than weeding Hammock Grove. Our new sheep employees have arrived at the perfect time, and we welcome their contributions to help protect the natural landscapes of Governors Island.”

“Using animals for vegetation management has many benefits -- not only does it help reduce the vitality and spread of the plants, but it reduces the need for harmful herbicides. The sheep also help return nutrients and carbon back into the soil, creating a healthier ecosystem for both native flora and fauna and park-goers. We are thrilled to expand our grazing efforts to Governors Island and welcome visitors to meet the rest of the flock and community which will continue managing vegetation in Tivoli Lake Preserve and hosting environmental education activities all summer long," said Kim Tateo, Executive Director and Farm Manager, Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm.

Mugwort, phragmites and other invasive plant species have a competitive nature and crowd other plantings within the park, essentially creating a monoculture. The sheep eating these herbaceous plants helps to break down and weaken them, preventing them from flowering and the seeds spreading.

Recruiting a herd of sheep is extremely beneficial to the Trust for Governors Island’s efforts to care for the park, as it reduces the time spent on invasive species removal to less than 30 percent of the gardening staff time. Having the sheep deal with the invasive plants allows the horticulture team to focus more on the well-being of the trees and soil and ensure that the forest in Hammock Grove thrives on Governors Island. Previously the horticulture team was spending a tremendous amount of time weeding, and the sheep represent a cost effective and eco-friendly solution that allows the team to be more productive and efficient.

Sheep are also uniquely suited to the work on Governors Island, more so than goats or other animals, since their culinary tastes do not include tree bark. The sheep will eat around the young trees in Hammock Grove and focus on phragmites and other delicacies, while goats would devour virtually any plant life they could get their hooves on, invasive or not.

As a gesture of gratitude to their new home city, the sheep provided visitors to their welcome party with a lunch of invasive plants and grasses to all media in attendance.

Governors Island Announces Commission of New Artwork by Duke Riley


The Trust for Governors Island announced today that a mural by artist Duke Riley will open as part of its ongoing art commissioning series. Riley’s installation, entitled Not for Nutten, will open at the Governors Island Ferry Waiting Room located in the historic Battery Maritime Building on May 1 and remain on exhibit long term, with the work on view this public season and in the years ahead.

Riley’s mural expands on the tradition of ships in a bottle, referencing single-use plastic containers of today such as detergent bottles and caulking tubes, which can be found floating and accumulating in oceans worldwide. Unlike their blown glass counterparts, Riley’s painted, nautical vignettes appear etched like scrimshaw on the surfaces of familiar items that plague our waterways. The richly pigmented artwork provides visitors with an introduction to their journey across the Harbor to Governors Island, reflecting on how storytelling, memory, and human consumption all make imprints on our ever-evolving understanding of place, history, and the physical landscapes that we inhabit.

“As a historic center for the arts, Governors Island is proud to welcome yet another celebrated artist to enliven our public spaces,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “Riley's work marries the Harbor’s rich history with the Island’s present focus on the pressing issues of the ongoing climate crisis. This intricately beautiful mural looks to both the past and the future, giving visitors the chance to pause and reflect as they enjoy everything the Island has to offer.”

“Duke Riley’s expansive work for the Governors Island ferry building links visitors to the Island’s past and present, with scenes ranging in time from the Island’s British occupation to a sea creature caught with a Covid-era rubber glove,” said Meredith Johnson, VP of Arts and Culture and Head Curator at the Trust. “Blending fact and fiction, humor and tragedy, Riley’s works acts as a collection of past stories anchored in the reality of what’s to come.”

Riley anchors his work, Not for Nutten, in location with nautical flags that spell out “Paggank”, the name given to the Island by the Lenape. The name translates to “Nut Island,” a reference to the many nut trees found on its shores. In 1624, Dutch settlers called the Island “Noten Eylandt,” which the British later mispronounced as “Nutten Island.” Riley’s play of the term “not for nothing,” a phrase whose origin is speculated to be uniquely from New York City, frames the reading of the mural and its environmental warning, emphasizing important news about to be delivered.

Not for Nutten is curated by Meredith Johnson, The Trust for Governors Island’s Vice President for Arts and Culture and Head Curator. Since opening to the public in 2005, the Island has been home to hundreds of artists and arts and cultural organizations from across New York City, bringing a robust calendar of commissions, exhibitions and events to the Island’s diverse audience. The Trust’s commissioning program gives artists the opportunity to engage with audiences through site-specific projects responding to the Island’s unique conditions. Existing commissions that will remain on view for the 2021 season include Rachel Whiteread’s Cabin, Mark Handforth’s Yankee Hanger, and Shantell Martin’s Church. Previous commissions include Susan Philipsz’s Day is Done, David Brooks’ Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird, and Jacob Hashimoto’s Never Comes Tomorrow. Learn more about public art commissions on Governors Island at govisland.org/things-to-do/public-art.

Not for Nutten was made possible through the generous support of Charina Endowment Fund and The O’Grady Foundation.

In 2021, Governors Island will open to the public from May 1-October 31. For more information, visit govisland.org.

About Duke Riley

Duke Riley is a Brooklyn-based artist and seafarer, whose work is intertwined with maritime history and urban waterways. His installations, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and mosaics weave historical and contemporary events with elements of fiction and myth. In 2007, Riley built, launched, and piloted a full-scale replica of the Turtle, reenacting its 1776 mission near the shores of Governors Island in the Buttermilk Channel for his project The Battle of Brooklyn. Born in Boston, Riley received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and his M.F.A. from Pratt Institute. Riley’s work has been widely exhibited in shows and public projects in New York, nationally, and internationally.

Mayor de Blasio Announces New Appointments to Trust for Governors Island Board of Directors

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the appointments of Donnel Baird, Alice Blank, Lisa Garcia, Grace Lee, Michael Oppenheimer and Matthew Washington to the Trust for Governors Island board of directors. With leadership in green tech, climate science, environmental justice, architecture, business, government and advocacy, the appointments announced today will bring years of experience to oversee the Trust’s activities in the planning, operations and ongoing development of Governors Island.

The Trust for Governors Island’s 17-member board provides strategic oversight, reviews and approves operating and capital budgets, authorizes leases on Governors Island, and approves significant contracts.

“The Trust for Governors Island does extraordinary work to maintain and improve an iconic open space in this city. These new expert voices will further that work and keep the island a vibrant, accessible, and enjoyable destination for generations of New Yorkers to come,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“As Governors Island continues it work in creating a world-class climate hub, it’s so important that it has board leadership to help achieve this goal,” said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been. “Donnel, Lisa and Michael are leading voices in climate and environmental fields, and their expertise—along with the experience in architecture, advocacy and government that Alice, Grace and Matthew bring—will be critical to moving the Island towards its next, exciting phase.”

“These six new board members bring a deep bench of experience and we’re honored to have their leadership as we embark on an exciting moment for Governors Island,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “With strong ties to the New York City community and vital expertise in civic, parks and environmental stewardship, we’re thrilled to partner with our board in realizing Governors Island’s potential as a recreational and cultural resource, and its growing use as a center for climate solutions.”

This month, Mayor de Blasio and the Trust announced Governors Island will reopen the public on May 1st, returning to its pre-pandemic season calendar. In addition to daily Manhattan ferry service, for the first time Governors Island ferries will serve two Brooklyn locations for weekend service at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Basin in Red Hook, allowing easy access to the Island for a wider range of Brooklyn residents. For more information, go to www.govisland.org.

About today’s appointments:

Donnel Baird

Donnel Baird is the founder of BlocPower, a clean tech startup based in New York City. BlocPower develops portfolios of clean energy retrofit opportunities in underserved communities, and connects those opportunities to investors seeking social, environmental, and financial returns. BlocPower creates jobs for qualified local low-income workers, energy savings for community institutions, reduces carbon emissions, and provides returns to investors. BlocPower is backed by Kapor Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Eric and Wendy Schmidt, the American Family Institute for social and environmental impact, and Salesforce. Baird is a graduate of Duke University and Columbia Business School, where he was a recipient of the Board of Overseers Fellowship and a recipient of investment from the Lang Fund for Entrepreneurial Initiatives. He spent four years as a political and community organizer, and more than two years managing a national initiative to leverage American Reinvestment and Recovery Act energy efficiency investments in underserved communities. Baird lives in his native borough of Brooklyn with his wife and son.

Alice Blank

Alice Blank is the principal of Alice Blank, Architect, an architectural and design studio carrying out innovative residential and commercial projects in the metropolitan region since 1995. Prior to establishing her firm, she worked as an architect and as an urban planner in Cairo, Egypt and in Neuchatel, Switzerland. Alice has taught architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning at Hunter College, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Catholic University of America, and led several international public design competitions including Ideas Afloat – a series of competitions and events that generated development strategies for the 42 islands comprising the archipelago of New York City. She is the Vice Chair of Manhattan Community Board 1 and the Chair of the Board’s Environmental Protection Committee where she helps lead the Lower Manhattan community in addressing critical land use issues in the City. Alice also serves as a Member of the Board of The City Club of New York and is actively involved with many of the City's preservation and environmental groups.

Alice Blank will serve on the Trust’s Board of Directors as a representative of Manhattan Community Board 1.

Lisa Garcia

Lisa Garcia is the Director of Fix, the climate solutions lab from Grist.org — a national nonprofit media organization dedicated to telling stories of climate solutions and a more just future. Garcia was brought on to help develop and run Fix, a new program that combines storytelling, events and network-building focused on climate justice. Fix identifies and lifts up a diverse array of leaders developing solutions to environmental and social-justice challenges and brings them together to break down silos, develop new collaborations, and accelerate solutions to climate change.

In 2009, Garcia joined the Obama administration to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental-justice work, serving as both an associate administrator and advisor to EPA administrators, Lisa P. Jackson, and Gina McCarthy. Garcia helped create and implement Plan EJ 2014, a roadmap for weaving environmental justice into all of the EPA’s work, and was the principal drafter of President Obama’s 2014 proclamation on Environmental Justice. She also led the federal Environmental Justice Interagency Workgroup, collaborating with other agencies across the U.S. government to address some of the country’s most persistent environmental challenges.

Before joining Fix, Garcia was at the nonprofit public-interest law organization Earthjustice, where, as vice president, she led high-impact litigation work designed to protect communities and families from toxic pesticides, refinery and factory pollution, chemical dumping, and unsustainable industrial development. She also spearheaded an effort to build diverse partnerships and coalitions.

Garcia lives in Brooklyn along with her family and pet turtle, Ziggy.

Grace Lee

Grace is a Lower Manhattan resident, a mother of three children, a small business owner and a community activist. She is the co-founder of Children First, a parent-led activist group fighting for the safe cleanup of a toxic site located in the South Street Seaport affecting thousands of children and residents in the district. Prior to Children First, she was the New York events director for Swing Left, a progressive political group that helped Democrats take back the House following the election of Donald Trump. She is also the co-founder of Nine Naturals, a toxin-free beauty line for pregnant and new moms. Prior to her political and community work, Grace was a Vice President and equity analyst covering the financial sector. Grace also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Battery Conservancy.

Grace Lee will serve on the Trust’s Board of Directors as a representative of New York City Councilmember Margaret Chin.

Michael Oppenheimer

Michael Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), the Department of Geosciences, and the High Meadows Environmental Institute at Princeton University. He is the Director of the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment (C-PREE) at SPIA and Faculty Associate of the Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences Program and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.

Oppenheimer joined the Princeton faculty after more than two decades with The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a non-governmental, environmental organization, where he served as chief scientist and manager of the Climate and Air Program. He continues to serve as a science advisor to EDF.

Oppenheimer is a long-time participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, most recently serving as a Coordinating Lead Author on IPCC’s Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (2019) and as a Review Editor on the upcoming Sixth Assessment Report. Oppenheimer served previously as a member of several panels of the National Academy of Sciences as well as the National Academies’ Board on Energy and Environmental Studies and the New York City Panel on Climate Change, providing technical advice to the City. He is also a winner of the 2010 Heinz Award and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Oppenheimer is co-editor-in-chief of interdisciplinary scientific journal, Climatic Change.

Prior to his position at The Environmental Defense Fund, Dr. Oppenheimer served as Atomic and Molecular Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Lecturer on Astronomy at Harvard University. He received an S.B. in chemistry from M.I.T., a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Chicago and pursued post-doctoral research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Matthew S. Washington

Matthew S. Washington is a Deputy Manhattan Borough President where he oversees the distribution of over $130 million in capital funding to enhance parks, theaters, hospitals, museums, affordable housing developments, community centers and public schools. Previously, Matthew served as Deputy Director of External Affairs at The Durst Organization where he managed public affairs for new development in Queens and other projects, including New York Water Taxi. He has also served in a diverse background in non-profit management as the Executive Director of Friends of the High School for Environmental Studies and as Deputy Director of Friends of Hudson River Park.

Matthew Washington will serve on the Trust’s Board of Directors as a representative of Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

The Trust for Governors Island and the School Construction Authority Announce Expansion of Urban Assembly New York Harbor School


NEW YORK (April 5, 2021) — Trust for Governors Island President & CEO Clare Newman and Nina Kubota, President and CEO of the New York City School Construction Authority, announced plans to expand the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School on Governors Island into Building 515, located adjacent to the school’s existing facility within the Governors Island Historic District.

Located on Governors Island since 2010, the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School offers a unique career technical education curriculum built upon New York City’s maritime experience, environmental stewardship, and careers on the water for over 500 high school students. The 60,000-square foot expansion into Building 515 will add 18 classrooms in addition to the existing school building, adding approximately 400 seats to the Harbor School. The planned expansion will also include a pool and a gymnasium, supporting the school’s water-dependent maritime programs. Council Member Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, long-time advocates of the school and its unique curriculum, have committed capital funding to support the expansion and the construction of a new pool.

The expansion comes at a transformational moment as the Trust moves forward with plans to attract a leading center for climate solutions, which will expand partnership, learning and training opportunities for students on Governors Island.

"The Harbor School has been a key partner of Governors Island for over a decade, and I'm thrilled that it will be able to nearly double in size to support their innovative curriculum focused on marine and environmental work," said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been. "This expansion dovetails perfectly with the City's ongoing work towards creating a climate hub on Governors Island -- we look forward to Harbor School students' involvement in this critical field for years to come!"

“The Harbor School holds a special place in our school system, giving students unparalleled exposure to our local bodies of water and hands-on experience with environmental stewardship. With this expansion, even more New York City children will have the opportunity to experience on-water educational programming and access state-of-the-art facilities for generations to come,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter.

“The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School exemplifies the unique promise of Governors Island – a place of historic significance at the center of New York Harbor, with unprecedented opportunity for learning and engagement with our waterfront,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “This new facility will expand access to this unique curriculum to even more New York City high schoolers, and we thank Mayor de Blasio, Council Member Margaret Chin, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and our elected officials for their ongoing support of the school’s community. We look forward to expanding partnerships and educational pipelines with the Harbor School as Governors Island continues to grow as a hub for learning, research and public engagement in response to the climate crisis.”

“At the SCA, we are thrilled at the opportunity to add more seats to the Harbor School and expand access to this wonderfully unique maritime learning institution to more New York City students,” Nina Kubota, SCA President and CEO, said. “This project embodies our core mission at the SCA to design and construct safe, attractive and environmentally sound public schools for children throughout the many communities of New York City.”

"This expansion is exciting news for future of the Harbor School," said Manhattan Borough president Gale A. Brewer. "I'm pleased to support The Harbor School and to help provide more opportunities to students with the addition of 18 classrooms and 400 seats, as well as the construction of a new pool, which will be appropriate for certification for marine diving and lifeguard training."

"When I first visited the Harbor School for its groundbreaking in 2010, I could see that this educational institution is truly special. I am so happy to see the long-awaited expansion realized after so many years of hard work and collaboration with the Trust for Governors Island and the School Construction Authority,” said City Council Member Margaret Chin. “The school's development includes a gymnasium and inground pool, and will allow the Harbor School to welcome hundreds of new students who are currently on a wait-list. Two years ago I committed $1.2 million of my own capital funding for this project and I cannot wait to see its construction completed. Maritime students will now be able to scubadive in their own facilities; this place is truly the only school of its kind in New York City. I am so proud to have secured this next chapter in the Harbor School's environmental stewardship of Governors Island."

“I am pleased that the Harbor School will finally get their long-awaited pool and gymnasium,” said Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents Senate District 26, which includes Governors Island, Lower Manhattan, and parts of Brooklyn. “For nearly 20 years the Harbor School has offered unique educational opportunities to a diverse student body. Learning marine biology, sailing and other watercraft skills, and participating in the Billion Oyster Project all prepare students for careers engaging with and being good stewards of our natural environment. The aquatic center will allow students to take full advantage of the school’s maritime-themed academics. I am glad that the school will be expanding, giving more students the chance to experience this exceptional education on Governors Island. Thank you to the Trust, the School Construction Authority, Principal Jeff Chetirko, the Harbor School PTA, and the other dedicated advocates who helped make this possible.”

“I am thrilled this long overdue expansion to the Harbor School is finally taking place,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “When the conversion of Building 515 is complete, the Harbor School will have 18 brand new classrooms and additional multi-use space. That’s enough capacity for more than 400 new students, and makes the Harbor School an even more flexible space to meet the growing educational needs of our community. In its past life, Building 515 served New Yorkers as a hospital. It’s reassuring to know 515 will continue bettering our lives and our community as a place of learning.”

“Urban Assembly New York Harbor School is grateful to the Governors Island Trust, Councilmember Chin, Manhattan BP Brewer and the School Construction Authority for their support of the school's unique career and technical education programs in marine science and technology,” said Jeffrey Chetirko, Principal of the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School. “By providing equitable space and resources to our New York City public school, it will enable high school students from all five boroughs to acquire the skills and experience to successfully navigate through post- secondary opportunities and swim to the top of the maritime industry candidate pool after graduation.”

"The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School integrates academics and career readiness in a way that exemplifies the kind of innovation in public education that the Urban Assembly has built its reputation on," says David Adams, CEO of the Urban Assembly. "We couldn't be more excited about this expansion. The fact that more students in New York City have the opportunity to learn hands-on about the City's marine systems and environmental technology at the Harbor School is truly monumental. Congratulations to Jeff Chetirko and the entire team at Harbor."

“We were thrilled and deeply grateful to hear that the long-promised pool, including a gym and additional classrooms, for the Harbor School has at last become a reality at site 515 on Governors Island,” said Tammy Meltzer, Manhattan CB1 Chairperson and Tricia Joyce, Chair of Manhattan CB1’s Youth and Education Committee. “We understand the challenges sustained in prioritizing this important infrastructure. We want to thank all of those who made this happen, especially CM Margaret Chin, Gigi Li, Clare Newman, Sarah Krautheim, Lorraine Grillo and the NYC School Construction Authority, Dept. of Education, as well as MBP Gale Brewer, Senator Brian Kavanaugh, AM Yuh-Line Niou and all of our other elected officials and the families from the Harbor School led by Nan Richardson, who wrote, called, tweeted, and attended all of our CB1 meetings. We look forward not only to opening day, but to all of the rich opportunities this pool will create for the students of this cherished and unique program at the Harbor School. The world will be watching.”

"Brooklyn Community Board 2 is pleased that the Trust is able to extend their support for the good work of the Harbor School,” said Lenue H. Singletary, III, Brooklyn CB2 Chairperson. “Although the School is not geographically located within our boundaries, a large percentage of their students live in our District and benefit from the unique maritime and ecological studies that their curriculum affords.”

“The PTA is thrilled and grateful that after parent advocacy for a decade, and help from many well- wishers, especially Margaret Chin and her chief of staff Gigi Li, the Trust for Governors Island President Clare Newman and VP Sarah Krautheim, the School Construction Authority and Lorraine Grillo, the Department of Education, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Senator Brian Kavanagh, Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, Speaker Corey Johnson, CB1, especially Tricia Joyce, and all of our other elected officials,” said Nan Richardson, President of the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School PTA. “The Harbor School will finally get the space and facilities needed to fulfill this unique school's mission. As our city faces many challenges with climate change, our students trained in marine and maritime science hope to help meet that future with imagination and now will have the skills and tools to do so. We look forward to the realization of this dream.”

“The Harbor School expansion is a huge step in Governors Island’s growth as a year-round resource for our city," said Merritt Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island. “From its very first days, the school has breathed new life into the historic district and helped reinvent the entire Island as a place for learning and discovery. In addition to using their surroundings as a real-world classroom, Harbor School students are valuable contributors to our organization, with many serving as summer interns in our visitor services department where they share their passion for Governors Island with the public each summer. We are so excited to continue working with the growing student body and faculty for years to come."

The first year-round tenant on Governors Island since its transfer from federal to local control, the Harbor School’s mission is to provide a college-preparatory education built upon New York City’s maritime experience with a focus on environmental stewardship. With its partners, including the Billion Oyster Project, the school develops authentic activities for its students on, around, and related to the water that create a sense of responsibility to New York Harbor and develop a new generation of maritime advocates, enthusiasts, workers, and decision-makers. The Harbor School currently occupies nearly 80,000 square feet across two buildings located within the Governors Island Historic District, including Building 550 and the Marine and Science Technology Center (“MAST Center”), which supports the school’s water dependent activity.

In Fall, 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Trust for Governors Island announced plans to expand Governors Island into a year-round publicly accessible destination, including a proposed center for climate solutions. The proposed center will expand educational, research and public engagement opportunities surrounding the climate crisis while expanding the Island’s open space, and complementing its use as a cultural, educational, and recreational destination, as well as the work of the Harbor School in educating New York City high schoolers in science, policy and maritime related fields. The Mayor’s Office and the Trust expect to release a solicitation to attract an academic or non-profit research institution in 2021, which will expand partnerships with the Harbor School and other educational and cultural tenants working on climate and environmental issues on the Island.

Mayor de Blasio, Trust for Governors Island Announce Governors Island to Reopen on May 1st


NEW YORK — Mayor de Blasio and The Trust for Governors Island (The Trust) today announced the seasonal reopening of Governors Island on May 1st, 2021. Governors Island will return to its pre-pandemic season calendar, open to visitors every day from May 1 through October 31. In addition to daily Manhattan ferry service, for the first time Governors Island ferries will serve two Brooklyn locations for weekend service at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Basin in Red Hook, allowing easy access to the Island for a wider range of Brooklyn residents than ever before.

New Yorkers can visit the island to enjoy open space and car-free natural surroundings, unmatched views of New York Harbor and surrounding skylines, historic settings, dozens of free public art exhibitions, cultural programs and activities, and diverse selection of food and beverage vendors.

“Governors Island is one of New York City's crown jewels. It's the kind of beautiful, open public space that we will rely on to drive our recovery this spring and summer,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I'm grateful to the Trust for making the Island more accessible than ever this year, and the return of their full season will give more New Yorkers than ever a chance to enjoy everything the island has to offer.”

“We are thrilled to be able to open Governors Island for its full, six-month public season again this year, and with more access from Brooklyn than ever before,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “As the City reopens, Governors Island will provide an affordable destination for New Yorkers to enjoy open space, arts and culture, and everything that makes it such a remarkable place. One of the Trust’s main goals is to provide equitable access to the Island, and we’re proud to continue to deliver on that mission this year. We can’t wait to see everyone on the ferry.”

“The beginning of the Governors Island season is a great day for New Yorkers to play, explore and relax in what is truly one of our City’s hidden gems,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler. “And I’m pleased that starting on May 1st there will be ferry service between Pier 6 and Red Hook to Governors Island, which will open up the Island to more and more visitors, who will have the opportunity to enjoy this great New York attraction.”

“It is wonderful that Governors Island will soon open for the season, providing New Yorkers with an affordable option to enjoy the outdoors safely as we embark on the summer season,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez. “I am even more thrilled that weekend ferry service will be provided at two key Brooklyn locations, Pier 6/Atlantic Avenue and Red Hook/Atlantic Basin, and that NYCHA residents, IDNYC holders, vets, seniors and children and local community groups ride free, allowing more Brooklynites than ever quick access to all that Governors Island has to offer. I salute the Mayor and the Trust for Governors Island for their hard work in making this return a reality.”

“Governors Island is home to one of our city’s most cherished parks, and an affordable place to experience free art, recreational activities and history,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I encourage all New Yorkers to take a ferry, free for seniors, residents of NYCHA, IDNYC holders and community groups across the city, and enjoy this special place starting on May 1.”

"Governors Island is a great destination for Brooklynites and New Yorkers looking to spend time in nature, take in great arts and culture, or simply enjoy a beautiful day with friends and family. The new weekend ferry service at Pier 6 and Red Hook will ensure Brooklynites of all backgrounds can take advantage of our proximity to this natural jewel. I applaud the Trust for Governors Island for their commitment to equitable access, and can't wait to plan my visit!" said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“The reopening of Governors Island is one of New York’s great rites of spring,” said Senator Brian Kavanagh. “This past year, we have been more aware than ever of just how important public open space is for New Yorkers. The wide range of arts programming and cultural events for people of all ages and the Island’s expanses of parkland will be a welcome reprieve after the time we’ve spent indoors and distanced from what makes New York great. I have advocated for more ferry service for years, so I’m particularly happy that there will now be two departure points from Brooklyn, and service starting earlier on weekend mornings, allowing more New Yorkers to make the trip and to stay longer. As we continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital that we keep investing in equitable access to parkland in general and especially to the great resources Governors Island offers.”

“Reopening Governors Island is a much-needed victory for New Yorkers, especially many in lower Manhattan where Governors Island represents their only green space,” said New York State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “Governors Island is one of my favorite places, and for many in our community this is like having our own backyard back. This reopening marks an incredible opportunity for our city to begin healing after the disruptions brought on by the pandemic.”

"Governors Island is one of our city’s top summer destinations, and I’m so excited to visit the island again in celebration for its reopening,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “I encourage everyone to experience its beautiful green open spaces and take advantage of its car-free pathways to walk or bike around with friends and family. There are so many wonderful things to do and see on Governors Island, and taking the ferry is a fun and relaxing way to get there!"

“I visited Governors Island last year when it reopened on a modified schedule to give New Yorkers access to one of our safest and largest open park spaces. That year, the Island previewed what is now permanent: a ferry stop at Atlantic Basin in Red Hook, which will run Saturdays and Sundays. This will not only provide free ferries for NYCHA residents - in Red Hook, one of the largest in the borough - but will also bring New Yorkers to Red Hook and support local businesses on the weekends. I believe that the Trust for Governors Island cares about serving all New Yorkers and look forward to the programming again this year,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“It’s great that there will be two ferry stops that will allow our community residents quick access to Governors Island this year,” said Brooklyn Community Board 6 District Manager Michael Racioppo. “If residents haven’t been, I recommend jumping on a ferry from Red Hook or Pier 6 and changing that ASAP.”

“I'm pleased to welcome visitors back to Governors this season,” said National Park Service Manhattan Sites Superintendent Shirley McKinney. “We will continue to allow self-guided public tours of the historic forts. Park Rangers will be on site to answer questions and provide information to our guests.”

“This year made clear how critical green spaces like Governors Island are to the health and well-being of our city,” said Merritt Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island. “Everyone needs the ability to escape the concrete jungle and recharge after such a hard winter, and we can't wait to welcome New Yorkers back to enjoy the spring blooms, fresh Harbor breezes and plenty of room to bike, stroll, picnic and relax. We're especially grateful to our volunteers and supporters who stepped up in big ways over the past year to ensure Governors Island remains a beautiful and welcoming place for everyone.”


Governors Island will be open daily between May 1-October 31 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekends and holiday Mondays including Memorial Day, July 5, Labor Day, and Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Governors Island ferries will run daily between the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street in Manhattan and Soissons Landing on the Island.

For the first time, Governors Island ferries will serve two Brooklyn locations this year: Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Basin in Red Hook. These routes will run directly to Governors Island from each location every Saturday, Sunday and holiday Monday all season long.

Visitors must reserve ferry tickets in advance of their trip to Governors Island, and face coverings are required. Tickets will be available soon through an online reservation system at www.govisland.org. Round-trip ferry tickets will cost $3 for adults. Governors Island ferries are always free for children 12 and under, seniors 65 and up, residents of NYCHA, IDNYC holders, current and former military servicemembers and Governors Island members. Ferries before noon on Saturdays and Sundays are free for all. There is no surcharge for bicycles or strollers at any time. The Trust will also offer waived fares for non-profit community-based organizations, youth camps, and senior centers throughout New York City. To inquire about group visits, organizations may email groupvisits@govisland.org.

NYC Ferry will offer additional connections to Governors Island’s Yankee Pier via a dedicated weekend shuttle from Wall Street/Pier 11. Ticketing information and full schedules will be available soon at www.ferry.nyc.

The Island’s food and beverage vendors will return on May 1. For a full list of vendors, please visit govisland.org/visit-the-island/food.


Visitors can enjoy Governors Island’s over 120 acres of award-winning open space. The Island’s park offers rolling lawns and plenty of room for New Yorkers to spread out for picnicking and recreation, including over 7 miles of car-free bike paths. Hammock Grove’s 40+ public hammocks nestled into the foliage provide a relaxing retreat. The Hills feature unparalleled views of the Harbor and landmarks like the Statue of Liberty as well as the surrounding Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines.

Activities, including bike rentals with Blazing Saddles and CitiBike, visits to the Governors Island National Monument, self-guided history tours, free kayaking, grill reservations and more will be available for visitors beginning May 1. More information on activities can be found at govisland.org/things-to-do.


Ongoing Arts, Culture and Science Programs
Over two dozen arts, culture and education organizations will utilize space inside the historic houses of Nolan Park and Colonels Row this year to present a robust slate of ongoing free public programs, host artist residencies, engage visitors in special activities for all ages, and more. Ongoing public programs will include indoor and outdoor exhibitions, installations and interactive exhibits. The Urban Farm, home to GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden and Earth Matter NY’s Compost Learning Center and Soil Start Farm will also be open weekends from 12-4pm. Participating organizations are listed at govisland.org/things-to-do and programming schedules will be available soon.

Public Art Commissions and Installations
Public art installations including Rachel Whiteread’s Cabin and Mark Handforth’s Yankee Hanger will remain on view, as will Shantell Martin’s The May Room. The Trust will announce new commissioned public art installations and projects to debut on the Island in 2021 throughout the season.

LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island
Curated and programmed by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), the Arts Center at Governors Island will reopen to the public June 12 through October 31 with two large-scale, site-specific solo exhibitions; a participatory sculpture; and the return of the Take Care public programs series. Appropriate COVID-19 health protocols will be in place for visitors entering the Arts Center, with exhibitions and presentations free and open to all. More details about the 2021 season at the Arts Center will be announced soon on LMCC's website, www.LMCC.net.


Governors Island will host a limited calendar of socially distanced outdoor events in 2021. Dates and more details on these and other special events will be available at govisland.org as they are announced over the coming weeks and months. All events will adhere to the latest local, state and federal health and safety guidelines.

About The Trust for Governors Island

The Trust for Governors Island is the non-profit corporation created by the City of New York that is responsible for the redevelopment and operation of 150 acres of Governors Island. The Trust’s mission is to realize the full potential of Governors Island for the inspiration and enjoyment of all New Yorkers, demonstrating a bold vision for public space. For more information, visit www.govisland.org.

About Governors Island National Monument

The National Park Service manages Governors Island National Monument, which consists of twenty-two acres, including the historic fortifications Castle Williams and Fort Jay. The Monument is one of twenty-two sites operated by the National Park Service in the New York City area. Its purpose is to preserve and protect Castle Williams and Fort Jay, and to interpret them and the harbor’s rich history and ecology for the public. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/gois.

Highlighting the Women Artists of Governors Island


Governors Island has been a hub for artists and the arts since it reopened to the public in 2005, allowing visitors to engage with many artistic mediums including visual art, written word, live performance and more. In the Island’s rich history of artistic pursuits, women have often led the way, curating, creating, and presenting art and exhibitions on Governors Island every year, many as part of our community of arts and culture programming partner organizations. In honor of Women’s History Month, learn more about a few of the women who have created commissioned artworks for Governors Island and whose works have been presented at dedicated exhibitions on our shore.

Rachel Whiteread

Cabin by Rachel Whiteread. Photo by Julienne Schaer

Rachel Whiteread, an English artist who works primarily in sculpture, is the first woman to win the prestigious Turner Prize, an annual award presented to British visual artists. Her work often uses concrete casts to explore positive and negative space and our relationships with objects and settings.

Cabin by Rachel Whiteread. Photo by Timothy Schenck

One of the Trust for Governors Island’s first commissioned works, her sculpture, Cabin, has been situated on Discovery Hill since 2016, being placed there during the construction of The Hills. Tucked into the lush foliage at the end of a naturalistic pathway, Cabin provides a unique experience for visitors to interact up-close with public art. This concrete cast of the interior of a simple cabin creates a sense of contemplative quiet, contrasting with the bustle of the city visible across the water.

Susan Philipsz

Speakers for Day is Done by Susan Philipsz installed on the exterior of Liggett Hall. Photo by Timothy Schenck

Susan Philipsz, a Scottish artist and 2010 recipient of the Turner Prize, is best known for her sound-based installations and audio works. Many of her pieces consist of her own voice singing unaccompanied, though others explore a variety of audio sources and sounds.

Commissioned by the Trust for Governors Island, her 2013 piece Day is Done was a large-scale instrumental sound installation that played in two locations, from speakers installed near Liggett Terrace and Yankee Pier. The piece took the form of a ‘call and response’ version of the military bugle call, Taps, signifying the end of daytime and the beginning of evening, and paying homage to the Island’s history as a military base. Day is Done was played daily at 6pm, Governors Island’s closing time, and could be heard both on the Island and from ferries departing it.

Shantell Martin

Exterior of The May Room by Shantell Martin. Photo by Timothy Schenck

Shantell Martin (pictured in the header photo working on The May Room; photo by Timothy Schenck) is a New York-based artist who has created site-specific installations for venues across the world. Much of her work features her signature black and white line drawings, sometimes created in a stream-of-consciousness style at the site of installation.

Interior of The May Room by Shantell Martin. Photo by Julienne Schaer

For Governors Island’s 2019 season, the Trust commissioned Martin to create The May Room, incorporating both the exterior and interior of a deconsecrated former military chapel near the Island’s eastern shore. The May Room honors the structure’s past use by reinterpreting it into a modern site for reflection and contemplation. The May Room’s interior features labyrinthine forms on the floor that invite visitors to explore the space, as well as custom-built, movable furniture in the shapes of letters, allowing visitors to interact with the work.

Yto Barrada

Yto Barrada with guest artist Bettina: The Power of Two Suns. Photo by Brian J Green

Yto Barrada is a French-Moroccan multimedia artist whose work includes sculpture, prints, photography, film and more. In 2019, her exhibition The Power of Two Suns, presented with guest artist Bettina, was one of two inaugural exhibitions for the first season of LMCC’s newly renovated Arts Center at Governors Island.

Yto Barrada with guest artist Bettina: The Power of Two Suns. Photo by Ian Douglas

The Power of Two Suns explored themes of community, isolation, and disaster, featuring a large-scale installation by Barrada, a selection of sculptural pieces from Bettina’s remarkable body of work, and numerous two-dimensional works by both artists, including prints, drawings, photographs and photograms. The varied forms included in the exhibition invited visitors to explore the space and, in many cases, examine the works from multiple angles, encouraging a dynamic viewing experience for the pieces and the Arts Center’s gallery space.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed

A Supple Perimeter by Kameelah Janan Rasheed. Photo by Ornella Friggit

Kameelah Janan Rasheed is a writer, artist and educator whose works often combine photography and collage with written components to create immersive, text-based installations exploring themes of race, memory, history, ritual, and archival practices.

If/Then and Questions by Kameelah Janan Rasheed. Photo by Ornella Friggit

In 2017, LMCC presented an exhibition of Rasheed’s work titled A Supple Perimeter as part of their annual River to River festival. A Supply Perimeter featured a variety of works displayed in Building 110, including prints, poems, and projections, often manipulated as though by photocopier. Rasheed’s written works If/Then and Questions were displayed on the marquee and façade of the historic Fort Jay Theater near Yankee Pier, with messages rotating biweekly, inviting visitors to engage with the pieces as they changed over the course of the season.

The Coursen Heads Home from Dry Dock


This winter, Governors Island’s primary passenger and vehicle ferry vessel, the Coursen, took a short break from its daily duty of providing ferry service between Manhattan and the Island. The Coursen headed to May Shipyard in Staten Island this January to complete a regular check-up, going into dry dock to be lifted out of the water for inspection and maintenance.

Where does the name Coursen come from? The namesake of the 860-ton ferry, Lt. Samuel S. Coursen, graduated from West Point in 1945 and served in the US Army during the Korean War. In October, 1950, Coursen was killed in the act of saving a fellow soldier at the age of 24. Coursen’s valor earned him the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor awarded. In early 1956, the U.S. Army christened a new 172-foot passenger and vehicle ferry the Lt. Samuel S. Coursen to operate between Manhattan and Governors Island.

Passengers and vehicles board the Coursen, ca. early 1960s. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office via Ann Buttenwieser

In continuous service since, the ferry has carried heads of state visiting the Island and NYC, including Queen Elizabeth II in her first visit as Queen in 1957, and the King of Norway in the early 1990s. It also brought USSR General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to a meeting with President Reagan and President-elect Bush in December, 1988. When the Army departed in 1966, the ferry continued in service as the Island became a base for the U.S. Coast Guard until 1997. The Coursen, now owned by the Trust for Governors Island, continues to provide ferry service to Governors Island every day.

The Coast Guard requires that the Coursen be taken out of service and delivered to a shipyard for dry dock overhaul and repair work twice during any five-year period. While in dry dock, the 64-year-old vessel undergoes rigorous inspections and maintenance, including everything from propeller and rudder tests, to fuel tank cleaning, to retouching the paint. The Coursen went into dry dock on January 11th this year, and will be returning to Governors Island from the other side of the Harbor soon. With this dry dock visit complete, The Coursen will be back at work in ship shape.

Highlighting Our Partners Who Elevate Black Artists and Voices


Governors Island strives to be a cultural destination for all New Yorkers, bringing together partners, artists and voices that reflect the rich diversity of the City itself. Since the Island opened to the public, Black voices have led and contributed to the Island’s rich arts and cultural programs. In honor of Black History Month, we’re highlighting some of our arts and culture partner organizations that make it their mission to elevate the work and voices of Black artists and cultural practitioners.

African Film Festival, Inc.

Kids participate in a dance activity at AFF’s Family Day Celebration in 2014

African Film Festival, Inc. seeks to increase understanding and appreciation of African cultures through the medium of film. AFF hosts a variety of programs across New York and the globe to increase visibility and recognition for African artists. Every year since 2008, AFF has hosted their Family Day Celebration festival here (pictured above and in the header image), typically on Colonels Row, though the 13th annual installment was held in Nolan Park in 2020 in socially distanced form. Visitors have enjoyed film screenings, storytelling performances, dance and Double Dutch lessons, arts and crafts workshops, and delicious food and beverages from across the African diaspora.

See AFF’s upcoming programs online, including virtual screenings and more from this year’s currently ongoing 28th Annual New York African Film Festival.

ArtCrawl Harlem

ArtCrawl Harlem artist in residence Demarcus McGaughey in his Colonels Row studio. Photo by Timothy Schenck

ArtCrawl Harlem supports and promotes Harlem’s arts community and history through dynamic arts and culture programs as well as educational initiatives, primarily spotlighting emerging Harlem artists, galleries and cultural institutions. ACH joined the Governors Island Residency Initiative in 2020, providing studio space to three artists as part of their residency program, Boundaries and Connections: The Other Side of Us, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, offering virtual and limited in-person studio tours and artist talks to visitors.

Learn more about ArtCrawl Harlem.

Art Force 5

Art Force 5 invites day camps for arts and crafts on Governors Island

Art Force 5, a program for kids and teens founded at Alfred University, promotes creativity over conflict through art workshops and community-based art. Art Force 5 highlights diverse histories through their arts programs, like Drawn to Diversity, which examines the history of equality and civil rights movements through comic books, and the Women’s Empowerment Draft, which introduces notable women from throughout history in the style of a pro-sports draft. In their programs on Governors Island, Art Force 5 has invited young visitors to imagine themselves as superheroes through crafting projects, to learn about the Harlem Renaissance by creating tiles that became part of a public artwork marking its 100th anniversary, and more.

Read about Art Force 5’s work and learn about their upcoming 2021 Women’s Empowerment Draft this March.


BronxArtSpace is a nonprofit gallery promoting the innovative work of underrepresented and emerging Bronx-based artists. Having planned an exhibition addressing environmental issues on Governors Island last year, BronxArtSpace pivoted their Colonels Row space to join the Governors Island Residency Initiative. Their artists in residence used the opportunity to continue their practices and participate in cross-organization programs, like the live-streamed artist talk series Hey Neighbor.

Check out BronxArtSpace’s website to see exhibitions from the past ten years.

Escaping Time

Exhibiting artist Jairo Pastoressa, left, speaks to visitors at the Escaping Time house on Colonels Row

Escaping Time showcases and sells art by currently and formerly incarcerated individuals to shed light on the humanity and creativity that exists behind prison walls. In doing so, Escaping Time also seeks to bring attention to the epidemic of unjust incarceration of Black people and people of color in the United States. Their exhibitions aim to impart a more nuanced view of the criminal justice system and the need for society to invest in programs to better prepare prisoners to successfully reenter society. On Governors Island, Escaping Time has presented exhibitions of paintings, ceramics, sculptures, and public art installations.

Learn more about Escaping Time and see works currently for sale.


Creator in Residence Julian Joseph Kyle at MoCADA House in Nolan Park

The Museum of African Diasporan Arts presents exhibitions, community programs and educational initiatives centered in social justice to engage audiences in dialogues on subjects relating to the African Diaspora. In 2019, MoCADA invited seven creators to participate in a newly expanded residency program in Nolan Park on Governors Island. Visitors were invited to exhibitions of these creators’ work as well as a wide variety of public programs, including readings, screenings, dance parties and PROGRAMS by the Free Black Women’s Library, a mobile trading library that celebrates the voices of Black women in literature.

Head to MoCADA’s website and explore MoCADA Digital, a wealth of virtual programs including videos, podcasts, music, writing and more.

West Harlem Art Fund

A workshop on natural dyes for artists at WHAF’s Visual Muze residency program

West Harlem Art Fund presents arts and culture programming that emphasizes contemporary art’s relationship to history and heritage, often centering the African diaspora and its connections to communities and cultures across the globe. On Governors Island, WHAF has presented exhibitions of works by Black artists, hosted workshops for artists, engaged visitors in discussions and studio visits, and more. In 2020, WHAF’s Visual Muze artist residency program joined the Governors Island Residency Initiative, offering studio space in Nolan Park to 10 artists and groups who spent the season producing new works, building community with each other and neighboring organizations, and building and planting a garden in front of the house.

Learn more about West Harlem Art Fund and see virtual galleries and selected videos on their website.

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