Governors Island was originally a Dutch settlement called Noten Eylandt. The current name dates from colonial times when the island was for the exclusive use of New York’s royal governors.
Located in Upper New York Harbor, the island was fortified by the Continental Army. It served as a gun emplacement that fired upon British ships entering the port until it was captured. After the war, the island became a U.S. Army post and remained so until 1966. When the Army departed, the Coast Guard established and operated a major facility on the island until 1996. The northern part of the island, that encompasses Castle Williams and Fort Jay, was designated a National Historic Landmark district in 1985. The island is now under the auspices of the Governors Island Alliance. The organization is working to make the island an entertainment and recreational facility for the city of New York. It also strives to preserve the island’s historical buildings and heritage.
Visitors can access the island, which is approximately a half mile off the southern tip of Manhattan, on a complimentary ferry. Once on the island, you can participate in the National Park Service walking tour, ride a bike along the coastal path or picnic in the open spaces. The island serves as the backdrop for several recent video games, including World in Conflict and Freedom Fighters.