• Pershing Hall

    World War I Memorial Project Launches

    Last summer I started work on a project that is small in scope but means a lot to me. Today I submitted the final grant application information to the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission for what I am calling the Governors Island World War I Memorial Project. Last year when my book The Governors Island Explorer’s Guide was published I was not done with the island, which is by far my favorite park in the city. I started work on my next book, World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War, which comes out in about a month. I wrote a…

  • History,  News

    Aviation Month Returns in February

    The second annual Aviation Month returns to the Governors Island Guide in February. With the Island closed until May 1, more stories about the history of aviation will be presented weekly on the news blog. The series debuted last year and was incredibly popular and the stories were read all year. In August Governors Island made worldwide aviation news once again. The popular Drone Nationals were broadcast live from the Island on ESPN3; a few thousands drone enthusiasts descended on the south end for it. These are the stories from 2016: Wilbur Wright Flies Over New York Harbor in 1909 Glenn Curtiss and the 1910 Flying Marksman of Fort Jay…

  • Quarters 19
    History,  News

    A Yellow House Turns 127 in 2017

    With the Island closed to the public until May, we’ll take a look at some of the history of Governors Island. Nolan Park is the gem of the Historic District. While Quarters 1, the 1843 Commanding Officer’s Quarters, gets most of the attention for its architectural flair, I’m drawn to the fifteen yellow homes. This is the former officer family housing, built between 1845 and 1902. It’s mind boggling to think how many military families lived in these homes going back to when President John Tyler was in office. Before we study Quarters 19, here is a walk through the history of this part of the island. Originally, the east…

  • U.S. Army Eating
    History,  News

    Turkey & Fixings Served Soldiers on Island in 1934

    An army travels on its stomach. Every private hears that in recruit training. But what if you were in the U.S. Army stationed on Governors Island during Thanksgiving, and not going anywhere? Army cooks and bakers were ready to serve. According to a Fort Jay Thanksgiving Dinner menu for November 29, 1934, the men ate well. The menu consisted of: Roast Turkey Stuffed Olives Hearts of Celery Oyster Soup and Oyster Dressing Giblet Gravy Cranberry Sauce Mashed Potatoes and Candied Sweet Potatoes Fruit Salad Sweet Relish Vienna Rolls For Dessert: Pumpkin Pie and Mince Pie Cocoanut Cake, Fruit Cake, and Chocolate Cake Ice Cream with fruit, assorted nuts, and mixed…

  • Ebony Doughboys

    Doughboy Day at Fort Jay Brings WW1 Living History

    A platoon of living history reenactors will bring World War I Doughboys to Governors Island National Monument on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, for a free exhibition. See demonstrations and hear stories as reenactors portray famous New York regiments, including the Harlem Hell Fighters, at Doughboy Day at Fort Jay. The centennial of American involvement in the “Great War” is in 2017 and this group of volunteer reenactors will share the story of U.S. participation. Both men and women will be in full uniform and provide displays and talks about the role America played in World War I. It is free and suitable for all ages. Participants: Long Island Living History…

  • Brooklyn ARTery

    Aug. 6 Storytellers & History Day, Book Signing at Brooklyn ARTery

    This summer is the 50th anniversary of the Army turning Governors Island over to the Coast Guard, and the 20th anniversary of the Coast Guard announcing that it too was leaving the Island. Governors Island opened to the public in 2003. Brooklyn ARTery has invited former service member residents and author of The Governors Island Explorer’s Guide, Kevin Fitzpatrick, for a series of free events: Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016, from 11:30-5:30pm, Governors Island, Nolan Park, Building 10B Panel Discussion/ Q and A with Former GI residents, Service Members and Coast Guard “brats” MC’d by Kevin Fitzpatrick: Hear what life was like when Governors Island was an Army and Coast Guard…

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  • Ranger Tian, 2016.

    Rangers Expand Hours, Offer Foreign Language Tours

    Yesterday the Governors Island National Monument announced it has expanded hours and offers foreign language tours on the Island. The updated calendar runs through Sunday, August 14. Weekdays * Castle Williams Bookstore open 11 AM until 4:30 PM * Going Around Castle Williams every hour at 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM, 3:30 PM, and 4:30 PM (Courtyard open 11 AM until 5 PM) * Fort Jay: Eagles, Townhouses and Big Guns at 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM, and 3:30 PM * Kid’s Program at 11:30 AM (Call 212.825.3045 or email for reservations) Saturday-Sunday * NEW! Castle Williams Bookstore open 11 AM until 5:30 PM * Going Around Castle…

  • History,  News

    50th Anniversary of Coast Guard Change in Ownership

    Fifty years ago today on June 30, 1966, the U.S. Army turned over Governors Island to the Coast Guard. This step was the beginning of the final chapter in the military use of the Island, and set the stage for New York to get a public park more than thirty years later. In 1964 the Army announced that its role on Governors Island would cease, and elected to leave the Island. It would consolidate First Army and other units at Fort Meade, Maryland. The expense of maintaining structures from the 19th Century, and vast landscaping, proved to be too great for the service. The staff relocated service personnel and families…

  • Eagle Sculpture

    5 Days Left to Vote to Save Our Eagle

    There are only five days left to vote in the Save Our Eagle campaign, to win funding from American Express to help restore the eagle sculpture above Fort Jay. There is a three-way push from the Governors Island National Monument, Friends of Governors Island, and The Trust For Governors Island to get the vote out. As we reported last month, the Governors Island National Monument is now in a competition with other national parks across the nation to try and get a piece of the $2 million grant to help bring back the historic 1790s sandstone sculpture to a better state of preservation. Out of twenty parks, only five will…

  • News,  Tour

    Weekly Walking Tours Begin July 7

    To answer the demand for walking tours, they are going to be held weekly in July and August this summer. Beginning July 7, they will be given every Thursday at 11:30 AM. To attend, you should take the 10:00 or 11:00 AM ferry. Advance tickets are on sale via FareHarbor.com and are recommended, as the tours do sell out. The two-hour walking tour will focus on the three hundred years of island history. Learn about the people and stories that shaped Governors Island. Stops explore the military life, Civil War and World War I events, aviation pioneers, and even where the tiny railroad once ran. The tour is led by…