Governors Island

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Governors Island National Monument
Governors Island with a view of Manhattan
Governors Island with a view of Manhattan
Governors Island (USA)
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Coordinates: 40 ° 41 ′ 19 ″  N , 74 ° 1 ′ 8 ″  W.
Location: New York , United States
Next city: New York City
Surface: 0.1 km²
Founding: January 19, 2001
Visitors: 11,312 (2004)
Map of Governor's Island.pdf
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Governors Iceland [ gʌvənəz aɪlənd ] (German Governor Island ) is an approximately 70 hectare large island in Upper New York Bay , an Atlantic bay, the core of the natural harbor off the southern tip of Manhattan in the US state of New York is. The Buttermilk Channel , a 400 meter wide channel that separates the island from the district of Red Hook in Brooklyn .

From 1776 to 1997, building complexes erected on the island served as a base for the US Army (until 1966) and were their largest barracks in one place. The island then served as the base for the US Coast Guard . The island's name goes back to 1698 when New York was still an English colony and the colonial assembly reserved the island for the exclusive use of the Royal British Governor of New York.

On January 31, 2003, control of a large part of the island (607,000 m²) was transferred to the state of New York and has since been administered by the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC), a public corporation of the state of New York. The remaining 89,000 m² with its two historic fortresses form the Governors Island National Monument , founded in 2001, a national monument type that was given to the US Department of the Interior and is now administered by the National Park Service .

The northern part of the island with the historical buildings has been open to the public since 2003. This is also where the ferry berths are located. An air shaft of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel juts out of the water directly in front of the bank . A landscape architecture competition is currently being carried out for the larger, southern part, on the basis of which the island is to be turned into a new leisure and recreation park in the heart of New York . The island offers a good view of the Statue of Liberty , Ellis Island , New Jersey , the southern tip of Manhattan and the Brooklyn docks to the east . There are three large piers on the eastern bank.


Entrance to Fort Jay
Castle Williams, former military prison
Castle Williams, courtyard

Governors Island, which was initially used by the Lenape Indians to collect nuts and fish, was the original location of the Dutch trading colony, which was later moved to Manhattan Island and formed the New Amsterdam settlement there . A little later the island was acquired by the Lenape Indians for the colony by Wouter Van Twiller , the general manager of New Netherlands . The settlement was later captured by the British and renamed New York .

With the beginning of the American Revolutionary War , George Washington ordered the island to be fortified with earthworks shortly before the Battle of Long Island in 1776 - the first major battle of the new US Army and at the same time the largest battle of the war. The artillery posted on the island covered the retreat of the US Army, then known as the Continental Army, and thus saved the revolution from a quick and devastating end. However, the city of New York, which initially remained under British control, became the British base of operations in America for the remainder of the conflict.

With independence in 1783, New York and the new nation were determined to prevent future enemy occupations of the city and its strategically important waterways . Therefore, before the war with the British in 1812, two fortresses were built on the island, which were part of an extensive coastal defense system that included Castle Clinton (also Fort Clinton ) on the southern tip of Manhattan. The first fortress, Fort Jay, has a square plan with five bastions . It was built in the 1790s on the site of the original earthworks and was named after Christopher Columbus Fort Columbus from 1806 to 1904 . The newer name is reminiscent of a court chairman and politician. The second fortress, Castle Williams , completed in 1811 , has a circular floor plan with casemates . The two forts are some of the best surviving examples of the American coastal fortification system . Fort Jay is an example for the first fastening system and Castle Williams is an example for the second fastening system.

During the Civil War (1861-1865) Castle Williams served as a prison camp for Confederate soldiers captured in the war , while Confederate officers captured at Fort Jay were held. After the war, Castle Williams was used as a military prison and so became the counterpart to Fort Leavenworth , Kansas and Alcatraz , California for the east coast .

In 1878 the military installations on the island, collectively known as Fort Columbus at the time, became a major center of army administration. In 1909, on the 300th anniversary of the discovery of Manhattan, Wilbur Wright flew over New York Harbor from Governors Island. In 1939 the island became the headquarters of the 1st US Army . In this function, the island served as a key base for the embarkation of soldiers for the European fronts in World War II .

When the military left the island in 1966, it was rededicated as the largest U.S. Coast Guard base . A separate infrastructure with schools, churches and a theater was built on the island for their relatives. The closure of this base in 1997 ended the use of the island as a federal facility for over two centuries. On February 4, 1985, Governors Island was declared a National Historic Landmark and entered on the National Register of Historic Places .

Before the construction of the LaGuardia Airport in Queens , the island was intended as a location for an urban airport.

The island was in 1988 the scene of American-Soviet peace talks between US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Communist Party - Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev .

In 2012, extensive fire tests were carried out on former US Coast Guard buildings on Governors Island. The tests were carried out by NIST , the Underwriters Laboratories and the New York Fire Department to investigate the influence of various extinguishing tactics on modern fires. The results of the test series led to findings that in part mean a radical change in the methods used to fight fires in the USA up to that point.


Winfield Scott Hancock , General in the Union Army in the American Civil War and a major contributor to the Battle of Gettysburg , died on Governors Island on February 9, 1886 .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Listing of National Historic Landmarks by State: New York. National Park Service , accessed October 23, 2019.
    Governors Island on the National Register Information System. National Park Service , accessed October 23, 2019.
  3. Archive link ( Memento of the original from April 23, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /


Web links

Commons : Governors Island National Monument  - Collection of Images, Videos, and Audio Files