Today is the publication date of The Governors Island Explorer’s Guide. I started thinking about the book in 2006, and began the research soon after. However, with all of the changes taking place on the Island, it seemed to me to wait until 2016 to release it. If the book had been published just recently it would not have included The Hills or the South Island development. The Island has had so many development changes that the book would have been outdated almost immediately. (I’m already thinking about the next edition!)
A full description of the book is here, along with ordering information. The plan for the book was simple: I wanted to write a book that could be used by as many people as possible. So if a family just wanted to find out about the locations to take kids, they could appreciate it, as well as the visitor who wanted to know the Island history. I wrote a quite lengthy history of the Island from the pre-colonial days up to present day. I wanted to be sure to include all of the military usage of the past, while also covering what the Island is being used for today.
One part of the book that I really am grateful to my publishers, Globe Pequot and Rowman & Littlefield, is that I got a talented cartographer. Melissa Baker did the maps for my last book, The Algonquin Round Table New York. It was important to me to have a lot of maps because so many times when I’m on the Island, I see lost people. I mean, really lost. I love giving people directions (I’m a tour guide) but if someone is standing in Nolan Park and can’t find the ferry, that says a map is needed! Melissa did a super job on the eight maps. I even got to sneak in a map of the Island as it looked in 1865, so readers can see where the beach and cemeteries (yes, there were graveyards on Governors Island) were once located. A tip of the cap to my editor, Amy Lyons, for the hard work on this guide.
I was also the guy walking around the Island with my iPhone capturing the GPS locations of all the Island landmarks and buildings. A new trend in travel guides is including the GPS locations. Since there are no street addresses on Governors Island, I wanted to include these GPS longitude and latitude coordinates for those that are GPS-enabled explorers. GPS apps are great to try with kids.
I want to thank Elizabeth Rapuano from The Trust For Governors Island and Michael Shaver, chief of interpretation for the Governors Island National Monument. Their help was so important to me. I didn’t want to have a book come out with inaccuracies or facts that were incorrect, and they helped me. It was so critical to confirm the location of flush toilets as well as the name of a Civil War officer.
Now the book is out and the best part is yet to come. I am looking forward to the day when I am strolling around the Island this summer, and I see a stranger using my book. That is why I wrote it, and I am hopeful it will be a guide that will be fun, useful, and provide a good experience for the visitor to the Island, or the armchair tourist at home.
Kevin C. Fitzpatrick has written and edited seven books with ties to New York history, including "The Governors Island Explorer's Guide" and "World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War." Kevin is a licensed sightseeing guide and has been leading walking tours since 1999. He resides in Manhattan.