Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tourist in My Own Town - Discovering Another NYC Island

I think I am already in denial about fall starting to creep up on us, so I thought I would tell you all about a new place I visited a few months ago.

New York City is essentially a bunch of islands: Manhattan, Ellis Island, etc. with Brooklyn and Queens technically physically located on Long Island. Yet there was another island that New Yorkers weren't too familiar with until very recently: Governor's Island.

Where? Here....

Governor's Island is a small 172-acre island about one mile from Manhattan and even closer to Brooklyn (I think we clocked the ferry at less than ten minutes). It's been in use in its various incarnations since the early 17th century; but until recently, it was primarily used as a military defensive installation and post. From 1783 to 1966, the island served as a U. S. Army outpost and was then passed on to the U.S. Coast Guard until 1996. For several years, the island sat empty and unused. New York State took over control in 2003 two years after the island received national monument status, and the City of New York recently took over control of the development of the island.

Now the island is many things to many people. For some it's a place to spend a leisurely afternoon seeing concerts and going to festivals. For others, as of a week ago, it's their school grounds. The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a charter school, just opened last week. Husband J and I are definitely in the "leisurely afternoon" group, and we had a nice time wandering around Governor's Island.

The island is accessible by ferry from both Manhattan and Brooklyn. Brooklynites, just go the western end of Atlantic Avenue (at Columbia Street to be exact; take the B65 bus if you don't want to walk or don't have a car.). After a short wait for the ferry, we were off!

Boarding the ferry at Brooklyn

Our first look at Governor's Island

Getting off of the ferry, I immediately noticed that there were just so many things to do on the island.

Visitors can rent bikes to ride.

There was a kite festival that weekend.

Governor's Island has a sculptors' society, and they were out in full force that afternoon.

I think the most fabulous thing we came upon that day was Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra's Jazz Age Lawn Party. This was a totally no joke, real live honest to goodness performance/20's dance party/picnice (albeit in some hard core heat).

People were definitely gettin' down doing the Charleston.

I loved the pretty authentic attire.

The party even included some classic cars.

Husband J and I just walked around and admired the general splendor including the views.

The view of Manhattan

The view of Ellis Island (I've never been there actually. Perhaps a trip is in order.)

I think what boggled our minds the most were all of the different types of structures and places on the island.

A VERY small min-golf course

The soldiers who lived here didn't have to go far to go to church.

Yours truly in front of a former officer's quarters now an outpost of the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

By the way, we were not without provisions.
Cut mango, a Pellegrino Limonata soda (I become obsessed with these this summer), a nectarine, hummus falafel and pita from our favorite local falafel joint, Bedouin Tent, Laughing Cow cheese (Husband J became obsessed with this over the summer)
An odd mix but it did the job.

After our afternoon on Governor's Island, I was sad that I had not taken advantage of it before. I missed out on a Cold Play concert, food festivals (including Parked (a food truck festival) and the Vendys (street vendor awards)) and countless activities before this trip.

THAT won't be happening again, but a trip to Governor's Island will.


BigAppleNosh said...

I wonder if we were there on the same day!!! We happened upon the Jazz Age Lawn Party as well! :)

Marissa said...

I'm so glad you posted this! Governor's Island was one of the places on our list that we didn't get to hit on our last NYC visit. We'll definitely check it out next time!

D. Marie said...

I think I just saw someone on another blog at Governor's Island and I think they were dressed up in the vintage clothes like the pictures you have here! Now I have to find out who it was!

PS....I love laughing cow cheese!

What a neat little island with so much to see.

D. Marie said...

I remembered...It was Joanna @ Cup of Jo!

They took their adorable baby with them!

bienlivingdesign said...

Cool! Sounds like a fun day trip :)

Try Anything Once Terri said...

@BigAppleNosh - There were two this summer. I know he had one in August, but we went to the one in June/July. Either way, it was fun to watch.

@D.Marie - thanks for the link. I'm going to check it out. I now buy Laughing Cow cheese all the time for the Mr.

@Marissa - Come back to NY for a visit!

M and C said...

I love laughing cow cheese. I actuall travel with it sometimes because it doesn't need to be refrigerated.

I like little day trips like this. It's nice to get away from it all without having to go too far.


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