I’m a big fan of Governors Island, that 172-acre park that sits just a quick, free ferry ride away from downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Pier 6. For most of my life (and for more than 150 years before then) the place functioned as an active military base, for the US Navy and then the Coast Guard, and so was closed to the public. Then in 2003 the federal government ceased operations there, and sold most of Governors Island to the great state of New York for $1. Enter the Bloomberg administration, who opened up the island to everyone, every weekend, all summer long.
Governors Island is terrific for leisurely bike rides, running around on the vast parade ground, gawking at the Statue of Liberty and the downtown Manhattan skyline, picnicking and snoozing and whatever else you might do in a lovely, uncrowded park. But for me it’s the festivals, parties, and installations that really make Governors Island special. The Figment arts festival (above), is a must every year, and the twice-a-summer Jazz Age Lawn Party is extremely popular as well. And going on now is the fantastic Fete Paradiso (two above), which brings a dozen or so antique French carnival rides and carousels to that pretty lawn amid the yellow houses.
So Governors Island is great, but no one is resting on their laurels. In fact, a huge chunk of the park has been closed off this summer because of construction on, among other things, the eagerly anticipated Hammock Grove, which will be 10 acres with 1,500 tress strung with hammocks. And just last week the Governors Island Trust broke ground and released renderings for the spectacular new NEW area called The Hills. This looks awesome. I mean, check out those hills! Some of these rolling beauties will be 80 feet high, affording adventurous park-goers with even more spectacular views of the harbor.