Governors Island New York

I have been coming to New York for a number of years – I haven’t counted up, but it is more than 20 visits in 10 years. Two in the last three weeks helps the average. In all of that time I have never been aware of Governors Island. I have been to see Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, but never Governors.


Until 2007 this was not a public place – it housed the US Coastguards operation. In the first season it opened 8,000 people visited – this year the number was 475,000.

It is currently closed – re-opening next May, but our tour was given an exclusive look round.

It’s an odd place. The Island is partly a natural outcrop in New York’s harbour – but partly made up of landfill – this is where the sol from the subway was deposited over 100 years ago. Then there’s an assortment of buildings – extending to around 1.3m sq ft. But there really is no one here. It’s deserted. It reminded me of Port Merrion – all that was missing was Patrick McGoohan.

The Island has ambitious plans – to create a park for future visitors. There are some interesting features – adult playgrounds, art, sculpture – and those buildings. The Island allows a number of events to take place – which is to be applauded.

Someone on the tour though suggested that this was a ‘meanwhile’ space. Suggesting it is on a journey. Yesterday my blog applauded those who took a long-term view. But here I couldn’t help but think that there was something of a wasted opportunity? There are buildings which are not improving with age. And bags of them. But their use is woeful.

This is a place which showed so much promise – and potentially could be truly brilliant. But it seems to be operating at a snails pace.

Although a long-term view is needed – sometimes a little shove to get started might be good idea?

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