This island, just 800 yards from lower Manhattan, can be reached by ferry in only seven minutes. Although it has been open to the public for coming up to five years, it has a long history. In 1637, Wouter Van Twiller, a representative of the Dutch government, purchased the island, then known as Pagganck, or 'Nut Island' from the Native Americans for his own use and renamed it Noten Eylant. Left undefended, it was captured by the British in 1664 and gained its current name in 1784. For 200 years it was used by British and American forces who constructed Fort Jay and Castle Williams. During the two World Wars it was an important supply base and in 1966 the island was transferred to the Coast Guard. In 2002 it was sold to the people of New York and serves as a seasonal recreational facility opening in May and closing in October. During this time residents of the city and tourists alike flock to the island to picnic, cycle and attend some of the numerous events that take place here such as concerts, exhibitions, art and food fairs and public readings. This year the island will open up to visitors from Friday 27th May. Ferries to Governors Island depart from the Battery Maritime Building on South Street.
Above Ellis Island