Saturday, June 12, 2010

Governors Island

Well last weekend B and I went out to Governors Island with a small group of friends. Governors Island has a long history of use as a military facility, and was used as a Coast Guard station (I think that is what they call their bases?) from 1966 to 1996. It's now open to the public and accessible via a free ferry during summer weekends so we went to check it out.

The coolest part about the island is probably all the old buildings. While some of the structures are being put to use as museums or cafes or storage space, many of them are just totally abandoned, left as they were in 1996. Here's the old library on the island, neglected. (Don't cry, A!)

They have a huge range of building styles on the island! There is a large fortification called Castle Williams on one corner of the island which dates back to its earliest use as a military facility (it was covered in scaffolding when we were there so I didn't get a picture). And they have some fantastic old officer's housing, also abandoned.

They also have housing that is not... quite so stately or beautiful.

It's really cool to me, though, that this is all abandoned. Like in the picture above, they now have this chain-link fence to keep the tourists out, but if this picture had been taken 20 years ago I'm sure this area would have been crazily bustling with children and Coast Guard parents and diaper delivery trucks and whatever else happens in large buildings with lots of children. And how cool would it have been to grow up in this tiny island full of greenery and quiet, and yet be just minutes away from Manhattan? Very cool.

They have opened up the commanding officer's house, which is a nice big mansion. They've renovated it a bit, I think, but it's lovely. You can tell it was build for entertaining. And it has a great view of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Governors Island was very cool, and although I'm sad that they intend to tear down many of the old buildings, I'm excited to see what they end up doing with the island in five to ten years. It's kind of a hidden gem of the New York City area, in my opinion.

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