Governors Island National Monument | PARK AT A GLANCE

View of New York City from the roof of Castle Williams on Governors Island

View of New York City from the roof of Castle Williams on Governors Island


Governors Island served as a U. S. Army coastal defense base from just after the American Revolution all the way up until 1966 when the island was transferred to the U. S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard operated the Atlantic Area Command Center from the island until 1996, at which time the organization moved to a new location and the base was closed, thus ending over 200 years of military occupation.

In 2001, President Bill Clinton created Governors Island National Monument to protect 22 acres occupied by historic Fort Jay and Castle Williams. The remaining 150 acres of the island were sold to New York State and New York City for a dollar. In 2010, the state gave up its stake in the island and transferred everything to New York City, which formed the Trust for Governors Island to handle operations, planning, and development. The historical buildings from the 1800s on the northeast end of the island—the natural island—were left intact, while the 1900s buildings located southwest of Colonel’s Row—the area created between 1902 and 1912 by landfill—were torn down to make way for recreational development. The historical homes are available for lease, and some are now art galleries, studios, and schools.

Each year hundreds of thousands of daily visitors take the ferry from Manhattan or Brooklyn to Governors Island. They make no distinction between the National Monument and the section run by the Trust for Governors Island—most don’t even know that two organizations are involved. Yes, they may stop in and take a look around the forts, but only a few hundred visitors each day attend the National Park Service tours of Castle Williams, Fort Jay, and the historic district of the island. Nearly everyone comes for the recreational activities, which include walking around the green spaces, playgrounds, bike rentals, picnic areas, concerts and art exhibitions, camping, and food and beverage vendors. In the winter there is an ice skating rink and sledding hills.

The information here on National Park Planner mainly covers the attractions that are part of Governors Island National Monument. For information on the recreational activities operated by the Trust for Governors Island, see the Governors Island web page.


While Governors Island is open year-round, Governors Island National Monument (the forts) is only open seasonally, typically from May 1st through October 31st. Fort Jay and Castle Williams are open during the week from 10 AM to 4:30 PM and from 10 AM to 5 PM on the weekends. Times can always change, so be sure to get the latest schedule on the National Park Service’s Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Governors Island National Monument.


There are no fees to enter Governors Island. However, there is a fee for the ferry and for activities such as bike rentals and food and beverage purchases. For the current ferry fees, visit the Ferry Schedules web page for Governors Island.


Fort Jay Tour
allow 45 minutes

Castle Williams Tour
allow 45 minutes

Historic District
allow 1.5 hours

Time spent on recreational activities at Governors Island depends on a visitor’s interest and is limited by the operating hours of the island.

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Last updated on January 9, 2022
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