Urban Assembly Harbor School

Island to Remain Open until Halloween

Today the Trust for Governors Island and the Office of the Mayor announced what was kept secret this summer: the Island will remain open until October 31. This will be the longest the Island has remained open to the public on a daily basis since it became a public park in 2003. With the earlier-than-expected opening on May 1, this stretches the public season a full six months.

The press release:

Governors Island to Remain Open in October for the First Time, Expanding the Public Season

“As we work to increase livability, affordability, safety and equity in this great City, I am incredibly proud that beginning this fall – and for the first time – Governors Island will be open to the public from May through October,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This is a true milestone, and one that exemplifies how New York City is investing in our amazing parks to ensure it’s a city everyone can enjoy.”

Earlier this year, the Trust announced that the Island would open one month earlier on May 1. With today’s October announcement, Governors Island will now be open for six months out of the year, adding two months to its public season since 2016. Visitors will have an additional month in the fall to stroll through the Island’s sprawling open spaces, enjoying the changing colors of nearly 6,000 native trees and spectacular views of the New York City skyline, Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor from the Hills, bathed in autumn light.

“Autumn is the most visually striking time to visit Governors Island, with vibrant foliage in our park and historic scenery unlike anywhere else in New York City,” said Michael Samuelian, president of the Trust for Governors Island. “With the inclusion of October, visitors are now able to take advantage of one of the region’s most unique public spaces during the spring, summer and fall. Extending the season into October is an important step in our efforts to activate the Island year-round”.

In addition to enjoying the Island’s park spaces, visitors will enjoy a roster of fall-themed activities for all ages, including trick or treating and other arts and cultural programs. In celebration of Halloween, the Trust is bringing a ‘Night of 1,000 Jack O’ Lanterns’, a ticketed evening event that will feature more than 1,000 hand-carved pumpkins by artists from the Tri-State area. The LED lit pumpkins will be staged along a festive, paved, tree-lined pathway among the backdrop the Island’s Historic District. For specific dates, times and ticket information, visit here. The Trust will announce additional free public programming for October in the coming weeks.

During the remainder of the season, school groups, as well as youth and adult leagues in New York City are invited to utilize Governors Island’s sports fields, featuring two natural turf ball fields sized for youth baseball, adult softball and soccer. The sports fields are available for use by permit, free of charge for public schools and youth groups, and at $250 per hour for adult leagues and private schools. Permits are available at here. As part of a project to restore the Parade Ground, a nine-acre green space behind historic Fort Jay, the Trust will offer space for full-size, regulation football fields, soccer fields and lacrosse fields for the first time beginning this Fall. The process to reserve the Parade Ground will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Opening Governors Island to the public in October enables visitors to experience a whole new side of this magical place,” said Merritt Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island. “Through our fundraising efforts, volunteer programs and visitor services, the Friends is excited to play a role in helping make Governors Island New York City’s new favorite destination for outdoor fall activities.”

During the public season, the Island hosts a wide range of arts, cultural, educational and recreational programs.

The Island typically welcomes 10,000 visitors each weekend day and last year welcomed nearly 600,000 visitors over the course of the season. More than 75% of visitors to the Island are from New York City and over 90% are from the Tri-State area. Since opening on May 1 this season, the Island has welcomed nearly 350,000 visitors.

In 2017, Governors Island will be open every day from May 1 through October 31. The Island is open from 10 AM to 6 PM on weekdays and from 10 AM to 7 PM on weekends, Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day. In October, ferries will run from Lower Manhattan daily and from Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 on weekends and holiday Mondays. NYC Ferry will continue to stop at Governors Island’s Pier 101 on weekends in October via the East River and South Brooklyn routes.

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.