Governors Island is a small island located off
the southern tip of Manhattan that recently opened
to the general public. For about 200 years, it was
under the control of the federal government. It had
served as a military base, a prison, and more
recently, the Coast Guard's headquarters.
Now it sits unoccupied (save for a few ferry men, apparently)
and the public is allowed to visit for the first time
on a limited basis. Being
the curious type, I signed up for a tour and went for a
look-see. The tour was interesting insofar as it had an air
of "ooo, people are usually not allowed on this island" feel
about it. But beyond the novelty, the tour was not as
interesting as it could have been. We weren't allowed in any
of the buildings and the Park Rangers (I don't know about you,
but it's weird to see a fully decked-out Park Ranger in
Manhattan) just went on and on giving history lessons when
all I wanted was to explore the island on my own.
The fort and the castle were not the most remarkable things about
the island, despite the fact that they are some of the oldest
and most well-preserved ones in the States. What was most
interesting was that, and I quote our Park Ranger, "it's
Manhattan's newest neighborhood." And what an idyllic and
thoroughly charming neighborhood it is, with stately Victorian
mansions and big, old trees and huge expanses of lush lawns.
It's just not something you expect to see in Manhattan—rural
Virginia, maybe, but not here.
I can't help but think that it would have be so much cooler
to visit the island back in the Coast Guard days in the
company of someone who actually lived there.