A new landmark in the harbor, Governors Island is New York’s shared space for art and play. It’s just 800 yards from lower Manhattan and even closer to Brooklyn. For almost two centuries, the Island was closed to the public, operating as a military base for the U.S. Army and, later, the Coast Guard. Today three entities act as stewards and advocates: the Trust for Governors Island, Friends of Governors Island, and National Park Service.
City of New York and the Trust for Governors Island
In 2003, the federal government sold 150 acres of Governors Island back to the people of New York, with the Island’s governance and funding jointly shared by the City of New York and State of New York. The Island’s remaining 22 acres were declared the Governors Island National Monument, which is overseen by the National Park Service.
The City of New York is now responsible for Governors Island and created the Trust for Governors Island, the organization charged with the operations, planning, and redevelopment of 150 acres of the island. The mayor appoints the Trust’s 13-member board, four of whom are nominated by local officials. The organization seeks to revitalize Governors Island as a destination with vibrant public open spaces and educational, nonprofit, and commercial facilities.
In 2014, the Trust opened 30 new acres of the island to the public for the first time. It also broke ground on The Hills, a planned land feature that will be Governors Island’s crown jewel. In addition, the Trust embarked on an ambitious infrastructure program that will support the island’s historic buildings and their tenants, fulfilling the organization’s goal of transforming Governors Island into an extraordinary public resource with a lively mix of uses and activities.
Governors Island Historic District
In 1985, 93 acres of the island’s 172 acres was declared a National Historic Landmark District. A slightly smaller district was recognized by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1996, a designation that added even greater protection to Governors Island’s stately homes and landscaped grounds.