Volume 19, Number 3 | June 2-8, 2006

Free ferries to Governors Island. this year

Downtown Express file photo by Jefferson Siegel

Governors Island

It’s hard enough to find anything for free in this world – let alone in New York City where price tags reign supreme. But New Yorkers can give their strained wallets a break when visiting the Governors Island, which launches its seasonal opening day on June 3. The ferry fares, entrance to the island and island tours are all on the house until the island closes again on Sept. 2.

This season will be the third year since the island became available to the public. Ferry fees for the first year were $5 for adults and $3 for children, and the fees for the second year were $6 for adults and $3 for children. The Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, a state-city authority, made the ferries free this year, in an effort to garner more visitors.

Island-bound ferries will leave the Battery Maritime Building (just east of the Staten Island Ferry terminal) at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and are scheduled to return to Manhattan at noon and 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Apart from these weekday tours, Fridays and Saturdays give more freedom to the visitors. Still free of charge, people can come to the island, explore the vast array of historical hotspots, have a picnic, play on the fields and just enjoy the sights and sounds of the 172-acre island. Fridays and Saturdays, ferries will leave every hour from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and are scheduled to return about every hour from 10:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Downtown Little League will be playing some games on the island this weekend.

Unfortunately for animal-loving cyclists, there are no pets or bike riding allowed on the island. Bikes are allowed on the ferry, but once on the island, they need to be walked or locked.

The first scheduled event to take place on June 3 is the “Governors Island Family Festival.” The festival, from noon to 4 p.m., features arts and crafts, storytelling, puppet shows, musical and theatrical performances as well as other family-friendly entertainment.

Used as a military post by past Dutch and British settlers, the island was also utilized by the U.S. Army as well as the Coast Guard until 1997, then given back to the state and city of New York by the federal government in 2003. The 172-acre land is divided between the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (150 acres) and the National Park Service (22 acres), which oversees the historic district.

Plans to renovate historical structures and generally better the island for public use are underway, as approximately $120 million has been committed to rehabilitating the island thus far. GIPEC has asked developers to submit ideas for the island’s future

For more information, visit http://www.govisland.com.

— Janet Kwon


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