"Far from the maddening crowd" Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Tip by SOLODANCER

  Manhattan from the ferry to Governors Island

I have one ideal retreat for you to escape to once you've had enough of New York City's deafening cacophony. It's Governors Island. A tiny deserted island less than half hour away from Manhattan and just across the even-tempered strait of the River Hudson. A quick ferry ride from the South Ferry landing where the other ferries heading to the other nearby Ellis Island, Liberty Island and Staten Island are also located. The best part of this ferry ride is that it's totally free depositing one to the island which likewise is open free all year round, not to mention a most scenic and magnificent views of lower Manhattan and all round.

Governors Island is slowly being turned into a kind of artists' colony whereby the city of New York grants permits to selected artists that are generally less known and with less means financially. So one sees and then experiences creative atmosphere and happenings once in the island along with a welcomed open space and tremendous tranquility all round.

Like all the other NYC islands that dot around Manhattan - close to 70 of them, inhabited and uninhabited - Governors Island had a mixed but historically colourful past. Before the pilgrims' arrival the island and everything else were the domain of the native indians which this island they had named Pagganuck (Nut Island) for its abundance of nut trees especially chestnut. In the 1600s, when the Dutch possessed Manhattan which they renamed New Amsterdam, it was a thriving fishing community. Then later it passed on to the British as we all know who wrested the region away from the Dutch and regained control of the island claiming for "the benefit and accommodation of his Majesty's governors". Thus, Governors Island. It's long history during subsequent occupations all the way to final American hands had always been of and along militarized outpost and installation because of its strategic location at the mouth of the river as it opens to sea. Its military use continued up til the 1960's.

Governors Island is only open to the public for use and recreation during the day and left closed and deserted at night. Because the old barracks and gov't housing for the military are now all locked up (until the city gov't knows what to do of them), there is a certain errie desolateness and tranquil beauty to the place, the full expanse of the island to one's investigation and slow exploration. Among the modern amenities there for the visitor are a harbor side eatery, tourist information booth, art exhibition gallery, the artists' working space and a bicycle rental. But if you choose to spend the day here, it's far glorious to comb the island on foot taking in fantastic scenery and views of Manhattan and especially the statue of Liberty in the nearby distance.

It certainly would make sense also for this tip to belong in the Off the Beaten Path section as this charming little island within this great metropolis is little known to many for now.

Address: In the Hudson River
Directions: Quickest approach to the Battery where the ferries are is to take the no. 1 IRT train/subway to South Ferry which is the trains last stop.
Phone: +1 212-363-3200
Website: http://www.nps.gov/stli/index.htm

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Nov 17, 2011
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