Free Walking Tour July 4

Company E
Company “E” of the 12th Infantry Regiment, drilling on the Parade Ground in 1908. That’s Fort Jay behind the soldiers. (Library of Congress)

On Monday, July 4, I’m going to lead a free walking tour on Governors Island: The Secrets of Governors Island. My friend Janice Garingo and I launched the Governors Island Explorer’s Guide in May for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. We will meet at 1:15 on the hill above where the free Manhattan ferry docks (it’s called Soissons Dock, for the World War I engagement where the island’s 16th Infantry Regiment lost more than 1,700 men). The walk will be about two hours and we’ll end up at Water Taxi Beach for some Independence Day cold ones. The walk: free. The beer: not. I’ve been leading tours of the island since 2004, the year after it opened to the public!

I suggest taking the ferry at 12 in case there’s a big crush of people; the ferries depart Manhattan on the hour starting at 10 a.m. I timed it so that if you are on the 1 p.m. ferry we will be waiting for you. Give yourself extra time, at least 45 minutes, before the scheduled ferry departure, to make it past the line. The boat departs exactly at the top of the hour. You’ll go to the Battery Maritime Building, which is next to the Staten Island Ferry. Free ferries also run from Brooklyn (every 10 minutes) at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, located at the foot of Atlantic Avenue (corner of Columbia Street). The new East River Ferry Service also runs for $4 a fare (and has Queens pick up/drop off); click here for their schedule.

Corporal Gresham
Find out who Cpl. Gresham was and why he’s a hero on Governors Island.

Why take the Governors Island Explorer’s Guide walk when the National Park Service rangers give a walking tour? Mine is different. I’ve taken the NPS walks several times. They are excellent and information-packed, a really terrific overview of the history of the National Monument and the historic forts. My walk is unique. If you’ve ever taken my other walking tours (I’m a licensed New York City Sightseeing Guide), which include the Algonquin Round Table walk and the tour of Dorothy Parker’s Upper West Side, you know that I lay the history and trivia on really thick. Because I spent five years researching the material that we put into the Governors Island Explorer’s Guide app, I have a lot of material that wouldn’t fit into it. I know the topics of our walking tour will be material nobody else has, because I dug it up! A few of the topics will be:


Dead people


U. S. Grant


Drug busts

Army brats

Architectural history

Ronald Reagan

There’s something for everyone on this walk, and it will cover the entire scope of the island’s life, from the Dutch in 1624 to the Governors Ball last month.

If you take the walk I’ll also tell you my five reasons why Governors Island beats Central Park.

Sound like fun? Then meet me on Governors Island on July 4!

If you need it my cell # is 917.526.0597 and I can be reached at kfitz (AT) bway (DOT) net.

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.