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Report 1859: A Country Stroll in New York City

By Jeff H from NH, Spring 2010

Trip Description: Highlights of a second Governors Island Brats Reunion at a Rural Haven in the Heart of New York Harbor June, 2010. Interesting observations regarding the refurbishing of the Island by the city and the Federal Parks department.

Destinations: Countries - North America; Regions/Cities - New York City

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Sightseeing; Walking/Hiking; Independent Travel; 2 People

Page 1 of 1: Governors Island Second Brats Reunion

A Country Stroll in New York City – Second Governors Island Brats Reunion at a Rural Haven in the Heart of New York Harbor.

This is where I lived back in 1952 and Sue and I visited Governors Island on Saturday 19 June with about 35 other Military Brats who had also spent some of there childhood on the island – one or two were actually born there, along with Tom and Dick Smothers way back when. The island visit was the middle day of a three-day, two night Brats Reunion for some of us fogies to reconnect with our childhood, stir a few memories and renew some old acquaintances. It was actually our third trip to the island and our second Brats Reunion – the first Reunion being 2007 (see link at end of the report).

Based on a walk of the entire island perimeter promenade and a number of short cuts through the center of the Island, it looks like the city of New York is well on the way with their Master Plan for the island’s South end and the Feds (National Parks) are hard at work on the North end, much of which is a National Historical Monument and which is being carefully restored and preserved: this includes Fort Jay, Castle Williams (a prison at one time), the glacis/parade ground, Fort Jay and a few other buildings. More modern structures not in keeping with the 200+ year history of the island have already been torn down (a motel built in the 60’s, tennis courts behind one of the Nolan park houses, modern high rise brick housing, etc.). Extensive topology changes are planned for the South end, which will be where most day trippers will picnic, bicycle, loll in a hammock, take in the great views and generally enjoy the tranquility of a small piece of country right in the middle of NYC harbor. Check out the web sites listed below to see a few pics and to see the long term plans.

During our stroll we saw many ferry loads of people continuously unloading at various docks all day long. It was hot (in the 90’s) and city folks were headed for the cool quiet of Governors Island’s picnic areas (all over the island), or the sandy beach area not far from the main ferry landing near Fort Jay, or the Fort Jay Quad with live entertainment provided by the Army Statue of Liberty band and a Blues ensemble, or five or six art exhibits in Nolan Park houses, or a Beer Fest along Colonels Row adjacent to the Fort and most were looking for those ever-present cooling breezes on the East side by Buttermilk Channel, which separates the island from Brooklyn.

The long term plan for this little gem right off the tip of the Battery and hard by Brooklyn’s Buttermilk Channel is exciting and the first few areas are being developed with an eye to the beautiful views from all sides of the island (Brooklyn, Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Staten Island, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Lower Manhattan) and careful preservation of the peacefulness of natural (man-made hills and valleys, notwithstanding) surroundings. No vehicles are allowed, but bicycle rentals appeared to be very popular – many folks brought their own bikes, roller blades or small scooters for the kids.

Once again, as in 2007, our entire group of Army Brats stayed over in Weehawken, NJ at the Sheraton right on the Hudson. A few commuted, but most were out of towners like us and stayed Friday and Saturday night., since we had a group dinner back at the hotel on Saturday night after our day on the island. Two train rides and a 15 minute walk down to the Battery ferries from the World Trade Center subway station made a pretty easy commute to the island on Saturday morning. Coffee and muffins were waiting when we arrived at Fort Jay and lunch was provided, too. The Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation were our host, with some help from the Regional Planning Association.

The Sheraton Weehawken has made some significant changes since we were there in 2007. See my Trip Report (below) for that one. An entire wing of the hotel has been renovated and all the rooms made into suites, which is what we had. Our suite had a very large living/dining area, a separate bedroom with a king-sized bed and an ample bathroom – nice (great pillows BTW!). Unfortunately, there was no view of New York City from the newest side of the hotel. Also, they’ve added a completely new restaurant right off the lobby and Sue and I enjoyed an al fresco seafood dinner there on Friday night ... the view of NYC from this side of the hotel was perfect.

To check out the Master Plan go to the GIPEC (Governors Island Preservation and Education Corp.) site and view “The Future Park.”


Army Brats Reunion - Governors Island, NYC

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Governors Island Alliance

Governors Island Brats Forum

National Parks Service

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