Highlights from the Harbor: Governors Island’s 2020 Year In Review


Picnic Point. Photo by Sarma & Co. Photography

The Trust for Governors Island and Friends of Governors Island are pleased to release our 2020 Year in Review! Despite the challenges of 2020, we’re proud to have delivered on this mission last year as Governors Island continued to be a beloved destination and essential resource for all New Yorkers. Our 2020 Year In Review and the post below detail some of last year’s biggest achievements from Governors Island and our community of tenants and partner organizations.

In 2020, Governors Island provided vital access to open space when New Yorkers needed it more than ever. The Island opened with new health and safety measures in July to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors from 99% of New York’s neighborhoods. Shifting Brooklyn ferry service to Red Hook and launching targeted outreach allowed us to reach a wider audience of visitors, 40% of whom utilized free ferries. Our Horticulture team and a record-setting number of volunteers cared for the Island’s 120+ acres of open space, while special events later in the season enlivened the Island with free music and dance performances and more.

The Island made space for artists who needed it while providing visitors a venue to safely engage with public art. The Trust for Governors Island, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and 19 other arts and culture organizations launched the Governors Island Residency Initiative last year, a new program that rededicated indoor spaces to provide studios to over 120 artists. The Initiative produced new works, inspired collaboration, and offered a critical resource for many whose practices were disrupted by COVID-19. Visitors were also able to experience the Island’s stunning public artworks at a time when many cultural destinations were closed.

We took significant steps towards our vision of making the Island a year-round destination for New Yorkers. In September, the Trust announced its vision to attract a Center for Climate Solutions. The Island’s year-round tenants including Billion Oyster Project, LMCC and the Urban Assembly NY Harbor School made progress on long-term goals while adapting to the challenges of COVID-19. New opportunities announced last year, supported by ongoing capital improvements, seek to activate the Historic District with more year-round tenancies in arts, culture, science and technology. Four new year-round tenants coming to Nolan Park were just announced: Billion Oyster Project, Beam Center, the Institute for Public Architecture, and Shandaken Projects.


The Hills. Photo by Timothy Schenck

Thanks for reading. We’re looking forward to welcoming you back in the spring. For more info, see our full 2020 Year In Review.