Monday, September 19, 2005

Good Day, Gov'ner

For 3 months each summer on Saturdays, the National Park Service provides a ferry service from Battery Park, and opens up Governors Island to visitors. A military base for over 200 years, the island was turned over to the NPS in 1997 by the Coast Guard. Bill Clinton declared the two forts on the island National Monuments in 2001, effectively returning the island to the control of the public. The NPS has opened the island to visitors in order to solicit ideas for the best use of the 172 prime acres of land in the middle of New York Harbor.

Mike, Penelope and I were lucky enough to make it to Governors Island on the last day of tours for 2005. While ghosts of Confederate prisoners must occupy the place on dark, windy nights in the Harbor, on this sunny Saturday we saw beautiful old trees lining quiet, wide roads with loads of well-preserved housing. A whole community ostensibly disappeared, leaving the ballfields, churches and Burger King to sit silent. I couldn't help but think of what it would be like to live on this island (or to make it into a public space with regular ferry service), but my guess is some developer will figure out a way to put $2 million dollar co-ops, a casino or some sort of horrible consumer theme park on this unique piece of land.

ADDENDUM: A story in the Times about firefighters based on the Island.

The playground of children past

Officer's Quarters

Entrance to the military prison, where Confederate soldiers (and Japanese-Americans during WW2) were held.

Inside of the prison, which was also used as a haunted house for military kids on Halloween.

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