Governors Island is a 172-acre island in the heart of New York Harbor. Yards away from lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, it's easily accessible by ferry and open to the public during the summer.
Since Governors Island returned to the people of New York, it has transformed into a place where New Yorkers can learn, play, eat, see: ultimately a home. Additions such as the Hills have already changed the way people relate to the space. The island also features miles of walking and biking trails as well as play areas like hammock grove and the fountains. Organizations like GrowNYC and Figment are taking advantage of the vast space to bring the community close to nature and art.
The island’s vast space opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for bringing people closer to nature. Companies like GrowNYC and Earth Matter NY are taking advantage of the abundant green space to expand their educational programming. GrowNYC has a 21,000-square-foot urban farm on the island known as the Teaching Garden. The garden includes a variety of vegetable beds, a small scale farm and even an outdoor kitchen. After you’ve finished eating your meal at GrowNYC, you can head over to Earth Matter NY to learn how recycled organic materials help make high quality soil. Earth Matter NY started in 2009 with a mission to educate the community on how to reduce the amount of organic waste that gets misdirected into garbage. Today they offer internships, apprenticeships and other opportunities that allow volunteers to get directly involved with sustaining their city.
Governor’s Island is a hotspot for large annual events. Sometimes the island is tied into the history of these events, like New York’s Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party. What has grown into an acclaimed prohibition era inspired event began as a gathering of friends on Governors Island in 2005. The event was initially produced by the island and hosted by Michael Arenella, conductor of the Dreamland Orchestra, who came up with the idea for the party. By 2008 Arenella took charge of event production and has grown the lawn party into one of New York Time’s Most Memorable Events of the Summer. With live performance by renowned jazz orchestras and events such as the High Court of Pie Contest, this is one hard-to-forget party.
FIGMENT is another event that began on the island. The annual event that started in 2007 has grown into a “forum for the creation and display of participatory and interactive art” (newyork.figmentproject.org). During its 10 years of existence, FIGMENT has created a space in the art world separate from commercial art. Without relying on sponsorships or advertisements, they have added summer programs and exhibitions onto the original Annual City of Dreams event.
One of the most well-known features of the City of Dreams is the artist-designed miniature golf course that is free to the public. Each year FIGMENT selects a new theme for artists to interpret while creating the nine holes of the course. See below why the 2017 theme, “New York Has the Beat” struck a chord with Governors Island visitors.
Whether the focus is on sustainability, music or art, the future of Governors Island is built upon one common goal: community. By integrating hands-on education and starting new traditions, the Island is a place where New Yorkers and visitors to the city can grow for decades to come.