|Governors Island National Monument|
|Location||New York, New York, USA|
|Nearest city||New York, NYNearest city: New York, NY|
|Area||22 acres (89,000 m²)|
|Established||January 19, 2001 Established: January 19, 2001|
|Visitors||55,000 (in 2007)|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
Governors Island National Monument is located on 22 acres (89,000 m2) of Governors Island, a 172-acre (0.70 km2) island located few hundred yards off the southern tip of Manhattan and just northwest of Red Hook in Brooklyn, at the confluence of the Hudson and East Rivers in New York Harbor.
In October 1995, the United States Coast Guard announced it would close its largest base in the United States located on Governors Island, as a cost savings measure. The Coast Guard had established it base on the island in 1966 after the U.S. Army, which maintained Fort Jay on the island as a post since 1794, left the island in 1965. In 1996, the Coast Guard closed the base and conveyed it as surplus property to the federal government's General Services Administration for disposal through transfer or sale.
The closure was at the initiative of the Coast Guard, then a bureau of the U.S. Department of Transportation, which was seeking to close a $400 million budget gap. The closure of the base represented an estimated 30 million dollar savings. Since the closure was an initiated action by the Coast Guard, it was not subject to the Base Realignment and Closure process.
At the time of the closure announcement in October 1995, President Bill Clinton and New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan reached an informal agreement to convey the island to the city and state of New York for 1 dollar if a plan for public benefit could be developed.
In August 1997, as part of legislation to balance the budget, Congress directed that the entire island be sold with a right of first offer to the State and City of New York.
After the September 11 attack, Governor's Island served as temporary housing for New York National Guardsmen activated in response to and in support of recovery efforts.
As President Clinton left office, with no resolution of the island's future imminent and at the urging of members of the New York congressional delegation, he established a Governors Island National Monument by Presidential Proclamation 7402 of January 19, 2001. The Justice Department under President George W. Bush concluded the proclamation possessed technical errors, but did not revoke or invalidate the proclamation.
In an April 2002 White House meeting with city and state officials President Bush announced his intention to sell the island to the city and state of New York. Through the next several months, negotiations with city, state and federal officials resolved outstanding issues.
On January 31, 2003, the island was conveyed to an intermediary, the National Trust for Historic Preservation which in turn conveyed the island to two parties: 22 acres (89,000 m2) was conveyed to the U.S. Department of the Interior to form a national monument; and 150 acres (0.61 km2) to the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, formed jointly by the State and City of New York. Presidential Proclamation 7647 of February 7, 2003 formally established the Governors Island National Monument.
Today, city, state and federal agencies are in the planning stages of converting this former military installation into new public parkland and a spectacular destination in New York Harbor.
Both presidential proclamations noted that the island located at the confluence of the Hudson River and East River, served as an outpost to protect New York City from sea attack. Between 1806 and 1811, Castle Williams and Fort Jay were constructed as part of the First and Second American Systems of Coastal Fortification. The fortifications represent two of the finest examples of defensive structures in use from the Revolution to the American Civil War and played important roles in the War of 1812, the American Civil War, and World Wars I and II.
The fortifications were built on the most strategic defensive positions on the island. Fort Jay, constructed between 1806 and 1809, is on the highest point of the island from which its glacis, originally an open landscape, slopes down to the waterfront on all sides. Castle Williams, constructed between 1807 and 1811, occupies a rocky promontory in the harbor channels and served as the most important strategic defensive point in the upper bay of New York Harbor.
Since the island was managed by the United States Army and the United States Coast Guard for nearly 200 years, and no longer required for defense or Coast Guard purposes, the establishment of the monument provided an excellent opportunity for the public to observe and understand the harbor history, its defense, and its ecology.
The island and monument, currently under development, has been open on a seasonal basis during the summer months since 2003. In 2008, nearly 128,000 visitors came visited the island and monument.