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Governors Island
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
U.S. National Monument
Governors Island is located in New York City
Coordinates: 40°41′29″N 74°0′58″W / 40.69139°N 74.01611°W / 40.69139; -74.01611Coordinates: 40°41′29″N 74°0′58″W / 40.69139°N 74.01611°W / 40.69139; -74.01611
Area: 22 acres (8.9 ha)
Architectural style(s): Colonial Revival, Greek Revival
Visitation: 11,312 (2004)
Governing body: National Park Service
Added to NRHP: February 4, 1985[1]
Designated NHL: February 4, 1985[2]
Designated NMON: January 19, 2001
NRHP Reference#: 85002435

Governors Island is a 172-acre (69 ha) island in Upper New York Bay, approximately one-half mile (1 km) from the southern tip of Manhattan Island and separated from Brooklyn by Buttermilk Channel. It is legally part of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The island was expanded by approximately 82 acres (33 ha) of landfill on its southern side when the Lexington Avenue subway was excavated in the early 1900s.

First named by the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block, it was called Noten Eylant (and later in pidgin language Nutten Island) from 1611 to 1784. The island's current name—made official eight years after the 1776 Declaration of Independence—stems from British colonial times when the colonial assembly reserved the island for the exclusive use of New York's royal governors.

From 1783 to 1966, the island was a United States Army post. From 1966 to 1996 the island served as a major United States Coast Guard installation. In 2001, the two historical fortifications and their surroundings became a National Monument. On January 31, 2003, control of most of the island was transferred to the State of New York for a symbolic $1, but 13% of the island (22 acres or 9 ha) was transferred to the United States Department of the Interior as the Governors Island National Monument, administered by the National Park Service. The national monument area is in the early stages of development and open only on a seasonal basis, so services and facilities are limited.

The portion of the island not included in the National Monument is administered by the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC), a public corporation of the State of New York. The transfer included deed restrictions which prohibit permanent housing or casinos on the island.

The national historic landmark district, approximately 92 acres (37 ha) of the northern half of the island, is open to the public for several months in the summer and early fall. The seven minute ferry ride and admission to the island are free. The ferry leaves from the Battery Maritime Building (built in 1909)[3] at South and Whitehall Streets at the southern tip of Manhattan.


Colonial history

Map of Governors Island
Governor's Island from the air

Jan Rodrigues from Santo Domingo on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, a Latin-American of African ancestry and a free man, was the first person to summer on Governors Island, in 1613. He was employed as interpreter in trade negotiations with the Hudson River Indians by the private Amsterdam fur trader and explorer Adriaen Block. Rodrigues was left behind on the island in May 1613 to serve as on-the-spot factor to trade with the natives. Rodrigues and Block rendezvoused again in December that year.

In May 1624, Noten Eylandt ("Island of Nuts"; officially renamed Governors Island in 1784) was the landing place of the first settlers in New Netherland. They had arrived from the Dutch Republic with the ship New Netherland under the command of Cornelis Jacobsz May, who disembarked on the island with thirty families in order to take legal possession of the New Netherland territory.

In 1633, the fifth director of New Netherland, Wouter van Twiller, arrived with a 104-men regiment on Governors Island — its first use as a military base. Later he operated a farm on the island. He secured his farm by creating a deed on June 16, 1637 which was signed by two Lenape, Cacapeteyno and Pewihas, on behalf of their community at Keshaechquereren, situated in what today is New Jersey.

After New Netherland was conditionally ceded to the English in 1664, New Amsterdam was renamed New York by the English in June 1665 but for its population it remained New Amsterdam.

Noten (in pidgin language, "Nutten") Island was renamed Governors Island in 1784 as the island, in earlier times, had been reserved by the British colonial assembly for the exclusive use of New York's royal governors.

The New York State Senate and Assembly have recognized Governors Island as the birthplace, in 1624, of the state of New York. They have also acknowledged the island as the place on which the planting of the “legal-political guaranty of tolerance onto the North American continent” took place (Resolutions No. 5476 and No. 2708).

The American Revolution and beyond

Episcopalian Chapel of St Cornelius
Looking north across Fort Jay with Manhattan skyscrapers in the background
Liggett Hall, former barracks for a regiment

After the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, in one night, 9 April 1776, Continental Army General Israel Putnam fortified the island with earthworks and 40 cannon in anticipation of the Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn), to be the largest battle of the entire war. The harbor defenses on the island continued to be improved over the summer, and on 12 July 1776 engaged HMS Phoenix and HMS Rose. The Americans' cannon inflicted enough damage to make the British commanders cautious of entering the East River, which later contributed to the success of General George Washington's retreat across it from Brooklyn into Manhattan. The Continental Army forces eventually withdrew from the island as well, and the British occupied it in late August. From September 2 to 14 the new British garrison would engage volleys with Washington's guns on the battery in front of Fort George in Manhattan.[4] The fort (along with the rest of New York City) was held by the British for the rest of the war until Evacuation Day at the end of the war in 1783.

After the war two fortifications were placed on Governors Island in the years preceding the War of 1812 as part of an extensive coastal defense system including Castle Clinton (or Fort Clinton) at the southern tip of Manhattan. The first, Fort Jay, is a square five bastioned fort started in 1794 on the site of the earlier earthworks. The second, Castle Williams, is a circular casemated work completed in 1811. The two forts are among the best remaining examples of First System (Fort Jay) and Second System (Castle Williams) American coastal fortification.

During the American Civil War, Castle Williams held Confederate prisoners of war and Fort Jay held captured Confederate officers. After the war, Castle Williams was used as a military stockade and became the east coast counterpart to military prisons at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and Alcatraz Island, California.

In 1878, the military installation on the island, then known collectively as Fort Columbus, became a major Army administrative center. By 1912, when it was known as Governor's Island, its administrative leaders included General Tasker H. Bliss, who would become Army Chief of Staff in 1917. In 1939, the island became the headquarters of the U.S. First Army. When the Army left Governors Island in 1966, the installation became a United States Coast Guard base, serving as headquarters for the Atlantic Area, the regional Third District, the local office of the Captain of the Port of New York, AMVER (Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System), and the homeport for several U.S. Coast Guard Cutters including USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716), USCGC Gallatin (WHEC-721), USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722), and USCGC Sorrel (WLB-296). Its closing in 1996 concluded almost two centuries of the island’s use as a federal reservation.

The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel passes underwater and off-shore of the island's northeast corner, its location marked by a ventilation building connected to the island by a causeway. At one point prior to World War II, Robert Moses proposed a bridge across the harbor, with a base located on Governors Island; the intervention of the War Department under Franklin D. Roosevelt quashed the plan as a possible navigational threat to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Prior to the construction of Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, the island was considered as a site for a municipal airport. It did hold a small grass strip, Governor's Island Army Airfield, from the 1950s until the 1960s.[5]

On February 4, 1985, 92 acres (370,000 m2) of Governors Island were designated a National Historic Landmark district.[2][6][7]

The island was the site of a December 8, 1988 meeting between U.S. President Ronald Reagan, President-elect George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Tom (1937) and Dick Smothers (1939), also known as the Smothers Brothers, were born on the island, as was comic book (Batman, Green Lantern) legend Neal Adams (1941).

Development and new usage

The question of what to do with Governors Island has been an issue which the mayor and governor have faced since 1996 when the Coast Guard closed the base located there since 1966 as a cost savings measure.

In 1996 Van Alen Institute hosted an ideas competition called "Public Property" which asked designers “to consider the urban potential of Governors Island in terms of spatial adjacencies and experiential overlaps between a range of actions, actors, events, and acknowledge the physical reality of cities and their historic programmatic complexity as fundamental to the survival of a vital public realm.” The competition was open to anyone who registered. More than 200 entries from students, faculty, and landscape architects in 14 different countries were received. The jury members included: Andrea Kahn, Christine Boyer, Miriam Gusevich, Judith Henitz, Carlos Jimenez, and Enric Miralles.

On February 15, 2006, Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for "visionary ideas to redevelop and preserve Governors Island" to be submitted to GIPEC (see above). The announcement said proposals should "enhance New York's place as a center of culture, business, education and innovation," include public parkland, contribute to the harbor's vitality and stress "environmentally sustainable development." Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff said whatever group or entity is selected to develop the island would assume the $12 million annual maintenance costs that are now split between the city and state. In early 2007, GIPEC paused in the search for developers, focusing on the development of a major park on the island as called for in the deed that conveyed the island from the federal government to the city and state of New York.

With transportation to and from the island, one idea considered was an aerial gondola system designed by Santiago Calatrava.

A proposal has been tendered to adaptively reuse Castle Williams on the island for a New Globe Theater, designed by architect Norman Foster.[8] Since the fortification was constructed for the War of 1812, to defend America against the British, the not-for-profit organization is working in partnership with Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London to create a cultural center. Ultimately, the National Park Service has determined that this use of the Castle is not congruous with its historical significance, and has not chosen to pursue any further discussions related to it.

In the Fall of 2006, GIPEC announced that the New York Harbor School, a small public high school in Bushwick, Brooklyn, would relocate to Governors Island. The school is the island's first tenant and opens in 2010. Also opening in 2010 will be artist studios, run by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. These studios will open in historic Building 110.

In 2007, GIPEC announced five finalist design teams that were chosen to submit their ideas for the future park and Great Promenade. In December 2007, Governor Eliot Spitzer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the acclaimed team, Diller Scofidio + Renfro with West 8 and Rogers Marvel Architects, would design these new signature open spaces.[9][10]

In 2009, a three-acre commercial organic farm, operated by the non-profit organization Added Value, was launched. [11]

Governors Island Alliance

Since the decision by the United States Coast Guard to vacate the 172-acre (0.70 km2) Island in 1995, the Governors Island Alliance has worked collaboratively and successfully to help secure its return to New York and to ensure that the public interest determine its reuse.[12] The Alliance and its 50 member organizations led a campaign to see Governors Island returned back to New York for public purposes, a mandate embodied in GIPEC’s 2003 charter to create "an educational, recreational, and cultural center that will offer a broad range of public uses", create about 90 acres (360,000 m2) of parks and public spaces, and abide by design restrictions in the National Landmark Historic District.

The Governors Island Alliance is working with its many partners to make these commitments a reality, and engage the public in their planning. The Alliance publishes a monthly electronic newsletter that provides the latest information on Island happenings. Equally important, the Alliance is working to enliven the Island with a variety of recreation and arts programs so that visitors can enjoy this harbor destination. Last summer, a record 55,000 people enjoyed a variety of free public programs, car-free bicycle lanes, concerts, picnic grounds, and a great harbor views. You can also view a film of the Alliance’s 2007 opening day family festival.[13]

Public access and events

Lt. Samuel S. Coursen, Governors Island ferry

Since its transfer in 2003, Governors Island has been open to the public every summer. Access was via a free ferry from the Battery Maritime Building in the Financial District of Manhattan, or a free ferry operated by NY Waterway from the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn on weekends. Activites included free National Park Service walking tours of the island, bike riding, picnicking, art installations, fairs, festivals, and concerts.

Notable residents and references

  • The Smothers Brothers were both born on Governors Island in New York Harbor, where their father, Thomas B. Smothers, a West Point graduate and U.S. Army officer, was stationed.
  • Janet Lambert, an author of young adult fiction, resided on Governors Island while her husband was the post commander in the 1950s.
  • Lois Lowry, author of The Giver, lived on Governors Island during her high school years while her father, an army dentist, was stationed there.
  • The Richard Preston novel The Cobra Event has a biosafety field lab located on the island.
  • David Wellington's zombie novels Monster Island and Monster Planet feature Governors Island as a human safe haven in a zombie-infested world.
  • Governors Island was featured in the game Freedom Fighters, in which it was the seat of power for the Soviet Armed Forces which had invaded the United States. Governors Island is the final Soviet stronghold.
  • Steven McCarthy, a well-known Connecticut subprime mortgage financier and entrepreneur.
  • In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, the Triskelion headquarters of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Ultimates is located on Governors Island.
  • In Spider-Man 3: The Video Game, the mission "Scorpion Unleashed" takes place at Governors Island.
  • In the World in Conflict video game, Governors Island is captured by Soviet Spetsnaz forces.
  • The drug-making operation in the housing project in the film American Gangster was filmed in a now unoccupied (deemed for demolition) U.S. Military building on Governor's Island.
  • The films Prince of the City and Critical Condition contain scenes shot on the island.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.  
  2. ^ a b "Governors Island". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-11.  
  3. ^ The cast-iron structure was restored in 2001-2006.Lower Manhattan: Battery Maritime Building
  4. ^ Historic Timeline of The Battery - The Battery Conservancy
  5. ^ Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: New York City, Brooklyn
  6. ^ "Governors Island", 1983, by Barbara Hightower and Blanche Higgins "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination". National Park Service. 1983. "Governors Island", 1983, by Barbara Hightower and Blanche Higgins.  
  7. ^ Governors Island—Accompanying 76 photos, from 1982. "National Register of Historic Places Inventory". National Park Service. 1983. Governors Island—Accompanying 76 photos, from 1982..  
  8. ^ New Globe Theater
  9. ^ Ouroussoff, Nicolai (2007-06-20). "Competing Visions for Governors Island". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-20.  
  10. ^ Ouroussoff, Nicolai (2007-12-20). "A Landscape’s Isolation Is Turned Into a Virtue". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-20.  
  11. ^ Jennifer 8. Lee (2009-06-22). "On Governors I., an Organic Farm With a View - City Room Blog". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-21.  
  12. ^ Governors Island Alliance
  13. ^ Streetfilms » Go To Governors Island!

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Manhattan/Lower Manhattan article)

From Wikitravel

Manhattan : Lower Manhattan
Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan
Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan is the home of the financial district of Manhattan, located at the southern tip of the island with the Hudson River on the west, the East River on the east, New York Harbor to the south, and Chambers Street on the north. It is one of the two largest business districts in New York City - the other being Midtown Manhattan - and is the historical core of the modern city; a fact reflected in the convoluted street pattern compared to the regular streets and avenues found uptown.

Lower Manhattan is home to some of New York's most famous and evocative landmarks: Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island and Ellis Island in the harbor, both accessed by ferry boat from the financial district.



Located at the southern tip of Manhattan, Lower Manhattan was the site of earliest European settlement in the New York area - the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam. Established in 1625, the settlement became the capital of New Netherland, the colonial Dutch province which controlled much of the coastal area from Massachusetts south to Delaware. In 1664, the British conquered New Netherland and New Amsterdam became "New York".

In the late 18th century, with the American Revolution brewing, New York became a major political center for the colonists. Protests against the Stamp Act led the so-called "Stamp Act Congress" to convene here and sign a Declaration of Rights and Grievances, asserting the concept of "no taxation with representation." British soldiers captured New York and maintained control of the city until the war ended, when George Washington triumphantly returned to Manhattan. He would return again in 1789 to take the oath of office and become the nation's first president, as New York briefly served as the first capital of the United States, where the Bill of Rights was drafted and ratified.

Shortly after the creation of the United States, Lower Manhattan started becoming an economic and financial center for the new nation. In 1792, a group of stock brokers signed the Buttonwood Agreement, which created the New York Stock Exchange, underneath a buttonwood tree at 68 Wall Street. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the corporate culture of the area fueled the construction of many skyscrapers in the district, and as the financial power of New York grew, so did its influence; as evidenced by the 1929 Wall Street Crash, which ushered in the Great Depression.

Through the 1940s and 50s, new economic growth on Manhattan was centered on Midtown. Wishing to concentrate new growth on Lower Manhattan, and coming in at the height of the urban renewal movement, local leaders destroyed most of the old structures to make way for the gleaming office towers of today's Lower Manhattan, not least of which was the World Trade Center, built in the 1970s, which defined the Lower Manhattan landscape until it was destroyed on September 11, 2001. Currently, a new World Trade Center and a memorial to the September 11 victims is being constructed on the site.


Lower Manhattan has an irregular street grid system, a throwback to the original Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam. This street pattern seems even more irregular when compared to the neat grid system seen just about everywhere else in Manhattan. Major avenues here run in a north-south direction - West Street along the Hudson River, Church Street and Broadway through the middle of the district, and Water Street and South Street (the former running beneath the elevated FDR Drive) along the East River. With the exception of these roads, almost every street in the financial district is very narrow and often clogged with traffic during the day. The blocks immediately surrounding the intersection of Wall and Broad Streets (where the stock exchange and Federal Hall are located) are blocked off to automobiles; only pedestrians may enter.

Get in

By subway

Most of the city's subway lines have stops in lower Manhattan, making it one of the best ways to get to the district. There are few express stations in the area, so most trains will stop at every station in this neighborhood. Though many city bus lines serve the area, traffic is often slow on the winding streets.

The 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 lines connect the district to Uptown and the Bronx, with the 2, 3 and 4 also running to Brooklyn under the East River (along with the 5 during rush hours). The A and C lines run Uptown and east out to Brooklyn, with the A continuing to the JFK Airport area. The E runs alongside the A and C lines to Midtown, where it breaks off and runs out to Queens. The R and W head north to Midtown and Queens, with the R going east to Brooklyn. Finally, the J, M and Z lines head northeast to Brooklyn and Queens.

Additionally, PATH subway trains connect the World Trade Center site to New Jersey. There are two lines: one to Newark and one to Hoboken, both with stops in Jersey City. The PATH costs $1.75 per ride and accept MetroCard for payment.

By ferry

The Staten Island Ferry [1] connects the South Ferry terminal, located at the southern tip of Manhattan, to the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. The ferry is absolutely free and is popular for tourists since the route offers excellent views of Lower Manhattan and the State of Liberty. The ferry runs 24 hours a day, usually running at 30 minute intervals, with more running during rush hours and fewer running at very late hours.

NY Waterway [2] operates ferry services from the World Financial Center ferry terminal and the Pier 11/Wall St. ferry terminal to several points in New Jersey along the Hudson River, including in Hoboken and Weehawken. Fares vary by route.

New York Water Taxi [3] operates ferry services from World Financial Center, Battery Park, Pier 11/Wall St. and the South Street Seaport to points in Midtown, Brooklyn, Queens, Yonkers, and Breezy Point. Their boats are painted to look like taxis and fares vary by route.

New York stock exchange
New York stock exchange
  • Wall Street. The historic heart of the Financial District and the home of the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street is a byword for American big business and stock trading (most New York financial firms are no longer headquartered on the street itself, but housed nearby in new offices). A narrow street running downhill from Broadway to the East River, Wall Street was named for the wall that was built here in 1652 to keep Manhattan's indigenous peoples out of the growing Dutch settlement. The wall was demolished by the British in 1699. By the late 18th century, traders and speculators would gather under a buttonwood tree at the foot of Wall Street to trade informally - this was the origin of the New York Stock Exchange that was established in 1817.  edit
  • New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), 18 Broad Street (at Broad and Wall Streets), [4]. An historic site, not least because of the Black Thursday crash of the Exchange on 24 October 1929 and the subsequent sell-off panic which started on Black Tuesday, 29 October, precipitating the worldwide Great Depression of the early 1930s. The present Exchange building opened in 1903, recognized from the first as an example of masterful architecture, with the six massive Corinthian columns across its Broad Street facade imparting a feeling of substance and stability and, to many, seeming the very embodiment of America’s growth and prosperity. The building has been closed to the public since 9/11.  edit
  • 23 Wall Street, (at Broad and Wall Streets). Located across from the Stock Exchange is this imposing office building which was constructed in 1914 and served as the headquarters of JP Morgan. The Wall Street Bombing of September 16, 1920 damaged the building, with shrapnel blasting several holes in the limestone facade. The holes are still there for any to see.  edit
  • Trump Building, 40 Wall Street. A very impressive skyscraper which was completed in 1930 and surpassed the height of the nearby Woolworth Building, making it the tallest building in the world until the Chrysler Building was completed just a month later (which in turn lost that title to the Empire State Building less than a year later). The building was purchased by Donald Trump in 1995, hence its current name.  edit
George Washington's statue outside Federal Hall
George Washington's statue outside Federal Hall
  • Federal Hall, 26 Wall Street (opposite the NYSE), +1 212 825-6990, [5]. M-F 9AM-5PM (free guided tours M-F at 10AM, 11AM, 1PM, 2PM and 3PM. On this site on April 30, 1789, George Washington stood on a balcony overlooking Wall Street and was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. The old building on the site had been used as New York's city hall and had hosted some of the first congregations of the colonies in the lead-up to the American Revolution, such as the Stamp Act Congress. After the revolution the building, now Federal Hall, briefly housed Congress, the Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices before the national capital moved to Philadelphia. The current building dates to 1842 and was used first as a Customs House, then later the US Sub-Treasury (millions of dollars of gold and silver were kept in the basement vaults). Today the building is maintained by the National Park Service as a museum dedicated to the history of the site. Guided tours of the building are available, or you can just walk in and look up at the rotunda and view some of the artifacts, such as the bible Washington used in his inauguration ceremony. Free.  edit
  • Trinity Church, (Broadway at Wall Street), +1 212 602-0800, [6]. M-F 7AM-6PM, Sa 8AM-4PM, Su 7AM-4PM. An Episcopalian (Anglican) church and parish was first established on this site in 1697 under charter by King William III. The present Neo-Gothic Revival church building (the third incarnation) dates from 1846 and remains a significant landmark within Downtown. The original burial ground at Trinity Church includes the graves and memorials of many historic figures, including Alexander Hamilton, William Bradford, Robert Fulton, and Albert Gallatin. Free.  edit
  • Bowling Green, (at Broadway and Morris). A small park at the foot of Broadway which is the oldest public park in the city and is the site of the Charging Bull sculpture created after the 1987 stock market crash. Bowling Green is also the origin point for the Broadway ticker-tape parades; if you walk up Broadway, you can view plaques in the sidewalk honoring the people or events celebrated in these parades.  edit
  • Battery Park. At the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park is a waterfront green space, named for the artillery batteries which were installed here to protect the settlement of New York when it was under Dutch, then British rule. In the lead-up to the War of 1812, Castle Clinton [7] was constructed as a fort to protect the city, and is now operated as a small museum. There are several memorials in the park, including The Sphere, a public art piece originally housed on the World Trade Center site which survived the events of September 11 and was moved to Battery Park. Ferries departing to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (see below) depart from here. Free.  edit
  • World Trade Center site. Not referred to by New Yorkers as "Ground Zero", so be careful not to cause offense. The site is inaccessible to the public, owing to the construction of the new World Trade Center buildings and a September 11 memorial.  edit
  • St Paul's Chapel, 209 Broadway (between Fulton and Vesey Streets), +1 212 233-4164, [8]. Built in 1776, the chapel is an active part of the Parish of Trinity Church and is Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use. It is the only remaining colonial church in New York City and was George Washington's place of worship after he was inaugurated as president, but more recently the chapel became known for surviving the events of 9/11 without even a broken window - despite being located across the street from the World Trade Center - and its role as a place of refuge for the WTC recovery workers in the days that followed. Free.  edit
  • Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway (between Barclay St and Park Pl). One of the oldest and most famous of New York's skyscrapers (dubbed the "Cathedral of Commerce"), the neo-Gothic Woolworth Building was completed in 1913 and was the world's tallest building until 1930. The building has a beautiful ornate lobby, but it has been closed to the public since September 11.  edit
City Hall Park
City Hall Park
  • City Hall. On a triangular city block between Broadway, Park Row and Chambers Street sits City Hall, a gorgeous gleaming white building completed in 1812 and still serves as the home of certain city government functions, such as the office of the mayor. The building itself is fenced off and only accessible by tour, but there is a lovely park surrounding the building, with plenty of shady trees and a pleasant fountain just to the south of the building. Just north of City Hall and on the same block is the Tweed Courthouse, a gorgeous government structure and the legacy of Tammany Hall boss William M. Tweed, who used the courthouse project to embezzle large sums of money from the city budget and was convicted in an courtroom in this building.  edit
  • Manhattan Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street (at Chambers and Center Streets). With New York City growing and not enough space in the City Hall building, this 40-story structure was built to meet the space demands of the city government. Completed in 1915, it is a massive and very grand building with the gilded statue of a woman standing atop the building's spire.  edit
  • Brooklyn Bridge, [9]. From its intersection with Park Row (just east of City Hall) you can walk (takes about 20-30 minutes each way), bike, or drive across the historic and iconic bridge to Brooklyn. The view from the bridge is quite lovely, with excellent views of Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn and good views of Midtown and the New York Harbor in the distance. No toll.  edit
  • African Burial Ground National Monument, 290 Broadway, 1st floor (north of City Hall), +1 212 637-2019 (fax: +1 212 227-2026), [10]. Visitor Center: M-F 9AM-5PM except Federal holidays; Memorial: Daily 9AM-5PM except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. For most of the 18th century, Africans in New York City were buried in a graveyard outside the city. The graveyard was eventually forgotten and was rediscovered in 1991. This museum and memorial site commemorate the estimated 15,000 Africans that were interred on the site of the memorial. Note that the museum is located inside of a Federal building so airport-style security should be expected. Free.  edit
  • Museum of American Finance, 48 Wall Street, +1 212 908-4110 (fax: +1 212 908-4601), [11]. Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM. A small museum dedicated to finance and the markets, with exhibits that change periodically. $8 adults, $5 students/seniors, children 6 and under free.  edit
  • Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, +1 646 437-4200, [12]. Su-Tu, Th 10AM-5:45PM, W 10AM-8PM, F 10AM-5PM. A memorial to the Holocaust. $12 adults, $10 seniors, $7 students, children 12 and under free; free admission W 4-8PM.  edit
  • National Museum of the American Indian, One Bowling Green (adjacent to the northeast corner of Battery Park), +1 212 514-3700, [13]. F-W 10AM–5PM, Th 10AM-8PM. Housed in the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, this Smithsonian museum is the New York branch of the National Museum of the American Indian (the other branches are in Washington, D.C. and Maryland). Free.  edit
  • New York City Police Museum, 100 Old Slip, +1 212 480-3100, [14]. M-Sa 10AM-5PM. A museum dedicated to the history of the NYPD. $7 adults, $5 seniors/students/children, children under 2 free.  edit
  • Skyscraper Museum, 39 Battery Place, +1 212 968-1961, [15]. W-Su 12-6PM. Exhibits on the history of highrise and skyscraper construction. $5 adults, $2.50 students/seniors.  edit
  • South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton Street, +1 212 748-8600, [16]. January-March: F-M 10AM-5PM, Ships 12-4PM; April-December: Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. A museum with exhibits on the historic Seaport area and a collection of ships at the South Street Seaport on the East River open for tours. $10 adults, $8 students/seniors, $5 children, children under 5 free.  edit
Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

Lower Manhattan is the primary gateway to three islands in New York Harbor: Liberty Island (home to the Statue of Liberty), Ellis Island, and Governors Island. Another ferry runs to Liberty and Ellis Islands from Liberty Park in Jersey City, but most tourists use the Manhattan ferries. These are some of the most popular destinations in New York City and access is available only by ferry boat.

If you're visiting New York on a budget or you don't want to wait for hours to get near the Statue of Liberty, you may want to consider taking the Staten Island Ferry [17], which is absolutely free and offers excellent views of the Statue of Liberty from its route to Staten Island from the South Ferry Terminal, just east of Battery Park.

  • Governors Island, ferries depart from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street, +1 212 825-3045, [18]. Open seasonally; W-Th guided tours take place at 10AM and 1PM, F ferries leave every hour 10AM-3PM, Sa-Su ferries leave every hour 10AM-5PM. Governors Island has a long military history, home to headquarters and military posts of the United States Army from 1794 until 1966, then a complex for the U.S. Coast Guard before becoming a historic district open to tours. Free.  edit

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Ferries depart from Battery Park (New York) or Liberty State Park (New Jersey), +1 866 782 8834 (within USA) or +1 212 269 5755 (international), [19]. 8:30AM-5:15PM (hours adjusted seasonally); if you leave after 2PM, you will only be able to visit either Liberty Island or Ellis Island. Ferry ride $12 adults, $10 seniors (62+), $5 children (4-12). Crown Access $3 extra. Audio Tours $6 extra.

Ticket Options - Visitors to Liberty Island and Ellis Island have four Reserve Ticket options:

  • 1) Reserve Ticket – includes ferry transportation; provides access to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, including the grounds of Liberty Island and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The Reserve Ticket allows you to save time when waiting for the ferry; instead of waiting on the longer line, the Reserve Ticket allows you to go through the priority entrance at the security check-in. The Reserve Ticket does not allow entry into the Statue of Liberty, the Statue of Liberty Museum (located in the pedestal), the Pedestal Observation Deck, or the Crown. The cost of the Reserve Ticket is the same as the Ferry ride; there is no additional cost for the Reserve Ticket.
  • 2) Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket (does not include Crown Access) – includes ferry transportation; in addition to the access that is provided with the Reserve Ticket, this ticket also allows access to go inside the pedestal; see the interior structure of the statue; take in sweeping 360-degree views from the Pedestal Observation Deck; and access Fort Wood (the 11-point star-shaped structure the statue stands upon). The Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket does not include access to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty. This ticket has "Monument" printed on it (for Monument Access). Prior to entering the pedestal, there is a secondary security screening. The cost of the Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket is the same as the Ferry ride; there is no additional cost for the Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket. Tickets should be purchased days, weeks, or months in advance, depending on the time of year.
  • 3) Reserve with Crown Ticket (includes Pedestal/Museum Access) – includes ferry transportation; in addition to the access that is provided with the Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket, this ticket also allows access up to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty. Visitors to the crown will be required to go through a secondary security screening. The Reserve with Crown Ticket costs an additional $3. Reserve with Crown Tickets are very limited and should be obtained three or four months or longer (up to one year) in advance.
  • 4) Flex Ticket is valid for a one-time use within a three day period. The Flex Ticket includes ferry transportation and provides the same access that is provided with the Reserve Ticket; the Flex Ticket does not allow entry into the Pedestal, Museum, or Crown. The Flex Ticket requires a specific start date for purchase. With the Flex Ticket you can arrive at any time of the day, but early arrival is suggested for the security check-in queue. The Flex Ticket does not allow priority entry at the security check-in (Reserved Ticket entrance). Pedestal/Museum Access or Crown Access may not be ordered online with the Flex Ticket.

Tickets can also be purchased through concierges at major hotels and at the ticketing windows in the Castle Clinton National Monument inside Battery Park, New York, or inside the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey. Monument Access (for the Pedestal/Museum/Crown) may not be available if you purchase your tickets on the day of your visit.

Note: There is a separate Reserved Ticket entrance (at the security check-in) for the Reserve Ticket, Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket, and Reserve with Crown Ticket. If you purchase one of these reserved tickets, then you can take advantage of this priority entry (Reserve Ticket entrance) and you could easily save an hour of waiting during busy times. The Flex Ticket does not allow priority entry at the Reserve Ticket entrance.

Statue Cruises is the only means of access to Liberty and Ellis Islands; the ferries depart from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan or from Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Be prepared for airport like security screening with similar restrictions (no food or open liquids, no knives, etc.) before boarding the boat. One ticket is good for sailings to both islands and return to starting point. Tickets are limited in number and can be obtained on the day from the ferry company or in advance by calling the ticket office on the phone number above or online [20]. If leaving from Manhattan, you may need to arrive at Battery Park 2 hours before your timed tour to allow for security screening and ferry travel, so it is best to arrive at Battery Park early in the morning.

The Statue of Liberty, or Liberty Enlightening the World, a gift from the people of France to celebrate the centennial of the United States, stands upon Liberty Island and is one of the most famous symbols of the nation. Upon departing the ferry, you can visit the Visitor Information Station, which has a schedule of the day's events. Visitors can also meet at the Liberty Island Flagpole (behind the statue) for a ranger-led tour of the island. If you have a reserved Pedestal/Museum ticket -- "Monument" must be printed on your ferry ticket, which requires a second security check -- you can visit the monument lobby, museum (where you'll see various exhibits on the statue, the old torch, and the famous "New Colossus" sonnet), and outside to the promenade and Fort Wood (the 11-point star-shaped structure the statue stands upon). The Pedestal/Museum Ticket includes a trip in the elevator to the pedestal observation deck (not up into the statue itself); visitors can look upward to view the interior of the statue (there are four marked viewing locations); and the pedestal observation deck provides a 360-degree view, which includes the New York City skyline. There are 24 steps between the top of the elevator and the pedestal observation deck; visitors must be able to walk up (and down) these steps to access the pedestal observation deck. Security checks are rigorous, so travel as light as possible. Backpacks and other large bags are not permitted on the tours but can be stored in lockers for a fee. On busy days there may be long waits. Signs on the island state that you should obtain Reserve Pedestal/Museum ("Monument Access") tickets 1 week in advance to guarantee that you will be able to enter the pedestal. Visitors with the Reserve with Crown ticket are allowed to climb up a circular staircase from the base of the statue to the crown, but tickets are very limited and should be reserved three or four months (up to one year) in advance [21]. Visitors will enter the crown in groups of 10 under the direct supervision of a Park Service employee, with no more than 3 groups per hour. Children must be at least 4-feet tall, and must be able to walk up and down the stairs by themselves, and all ticket holders must show a photo ID to match the name on their tickets.

Ellis Island [22] is served by the same ferry as the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island was home to the nation's primary federal immigration station, with over 12 million immigrant steamship passengers passing through from its opening in 1892 to its closing in 1954. Today, over 40 percent of America's population can trace their ancestry through Ellis Island. The island is home to the American Family Immigration History Center [23], which contains manifests of 25 million immigrants, passengers, and crew members who entered New York Harbor.

  • Century 21, 22 Cortlandt St. (right across Church St. from the World Trade Center site), +1 212 227-9092, [24]. M-W 7:45AM-9PM, Th-F 9:45AM-9:30PM, Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-8PM. Sells remaindered designer clothes, often at deep discounts, and is popular with tourists and locals, alike. The store can be so crowded around Christmastime that it's a hellish experience, but it's civilized most other times of the year, especially during the day on weekdays. Filene's Basement (whose largest store in Manhattan is at Union Square) is a bit cheaper on average, but Century 21 has a wider and deeper selection.  edit
  • J&R Music and Computer World, 23 Park Row, +1 212 238-9000, [25]. M-Sa 9AM-7:30PM, Su 10:30AM-6:30PM. Occupies an entire block of stores right across the street from City Hall Park and sells the widest selection of computers, computer accessories, and various other electronic products (including blank CDs and batteries) in New York, at the lowest prices short of ordering through the internet. It is also probably the second best source of digital cameras and accessories in New York (B&H near Penn Station is generally considered by New Yorkers to be the best source). Well worth visiting if you need something right away or prefer to look at products before purchasing them. Generous return policies, too.  edit
  • World Financial Center, (just west of the World Trade Center site), +1 212 417-7000, [26]. Shopping, dining, events and the Winter Garden all open to the public.  edit
  • Eurostars Wall Street, 129 Front Street (at Pine Street), +1 212 742-0003 (, fax: +1 212 742-0124), [27]. A small boutique luxury hotel a block north of Wall Street. $230-$400.  edit
  • Hotel Reserve, 51 Nassau Street, +1 212 227-3007, [29]. A boutique hotel two blocks from Wall Street, one block from the New York Stock Exchange, and across the street from the Federal Reserve Bank. Consists of 113 rooms with free wireless internet, contains a fitness center, and is pet friendly. $150-$250.  edit
  • Millennium Hilton, 55 Church Street (across the street from the WTC site), +1 212 693-2001 (fax: +1 212 571-2316), [30]. Business class with finely decorated rooms and great views. $300-$400.  edit
  • New York Marriott Downtown, 85 West Street, +1 212 385-4900 (fax: +1 212 227-8136), [31]. Good views and nice rooms. $300-$450.  edit
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Simple English

Governors Island is a 172-acre (70 ha) island that lies on the Upper New York Bay, about one-half mile (1 km) from the southern tip of Manhattan Island and away from Brooklyn by Buttermilk Channel. It is legally part of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The island was made bigger by about 82 acres (33 ha) of landfill on its southern side when the Lexington Avenue subway was excavated in the early 1900s.


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