THE FIRST VISITORS
National Park Service rangers gave the first guided tours of the Island to approximately 4,000 visitors between June and October.
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
8,000 visitors came to Governors Island during 2005, the first year the Island was open to the public.
STARTING WITH PARKS AND PUBLIC SPACE
The decision was made to start the redevelopment of Governors Island with a design competition for new parks and public open space. The acclaimed landscape architecture firm West 8 was selected to design the Governors Island Park and Public Space Master Plan, which marked an important first step in the transformation of Governors Island.
That same year, GIPEC demolished a derelict Super 8 Motel on the Parade Ground, opening up more green space for the public to enjoy.
PICNIC POINT AND FERRIES FROM BROOKLYN
Ferries began running from Brooklyn for the first time. Picnic Point opened on the southern tip of the Island and the 2.2 mile promenade was opened to pedestrians and cyclists. With more to do and see than ever, the Island welcomed more than 275,000 people in 2009.
FIRST YEAR ROUND TENANTS
The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Art Center became the first year-round tenants on Governors Island. The Harbor School, a New York City public high school, restored Building 555 on the Island’s western shore to provide a college-preparatory education built on New York City’s maritime experience. The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council restored a large portion of Building 110 near Soissons Landing as a year-round shared, multidisciplinary space providing a retreat style artist residency and public exhibitions.
A PUBLIC SPACE MASTER PLAN
The West 8-designed Governors Island Park and Public Space Master Plan was released in 2010. The plan encompasses 85 acres of public open space on the Island, including new visitor amenities and improvements to the landscapes of the Historic District, a new park on the Island’s southern end, and a new 2.2 mile promenade around the perimeter.
THE CITY TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR GOVERNORS ISLAND
In April 2010, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson reached an agreement on the future of Governors Island. The City of New York, now responsible for Governors Island, created the Trust for Governors Island and charged it with the operations, planning and redevelopment of the Island.
CASTLE WILLIAMS OPENS TO THE PUBLIC
After an extensive rehabilitation project in 2011, the National Park Service opened Castle Williams to the general public for the first time in the fort's 200-year history.
PARK GROUND BREAKING
The Trust broke ground on the first phase of construction for the Island’s new park and public spaces, along with an ambitious capital program to bring the Island’s infrastructure into the 21st century.
In the early morning of June 9, 2013, Building 877 was imploded with 200 lbs of dynamite. The derelict 11-story apartment building on the southern end of Governors Island, where Outlook Hill and the ballfields now stand, had been vacant since 1996. Demolition debris was later used in the construction of The Hills.
The first 30 acres of new park opened to the public in May 2014. On land that was once flat and featureless, visitors were now able to enjoy a meal in Liggett Terrace, play or nap in Hammock Grove, or play sports on the Play Lawn. Potable water was restored as well, which was another major milestone readying the Island for its future.
THE BUSIEST SEASON YET
With almost half a million visitors, the 2015 season on Governors Island was one of the busiest yet. Almost 70 arts and cultural organizations created programming on Governors Island as part of OpenHouseGI, the Trust’s program which provides free space for artists, cultural and recreational organizations. OpenHouseGI offers 150,000 square feet of indoor space in former officers’ houses and 25 acres of outdoor space free of charge to any organization that creates programming that is free and open to the public during Governors Island’s public season. The Trust for Governors Island does not fund, select, or curate projects.
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE
The Hills, the culminating feature of the new park and public spaces, opened to the public nearly one year ahead of schedule.
EXPANDING THE PUBLIC SEASON
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.
GOVERNORS 1 LAUNCHES
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.
LMCC'S ARTS CENTER OPENS
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.
A CENTER FOR CLIMATE SOLUTIONS
In September 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Trust for Governors Island announced plans to develop a Center for Climate Solutions as part of the Mayor’s Recovery Agenda. The Center would bring together a cross-disciplinary community of researchers, educators, advocates, innovators and policymakers to create, test and implement the solutions our urban environments need today and in the decades to come. With its millions of visitors and unique waterfront and ecological resources, Governors Island can serve as an inspiring example of sustainable and resilient urban development and an unparalleled destination for broad public participation and engagement.