Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.
Governors Island has over 200 years of history as a military outpost. It began as a colonial militia base in 1755 and defended the harbor entrance to New York City during The War of 1812. During the Civil War, Confederate prisoners were held here. In peacetime, it was a training ground and administrative base for first the US Army and then the Coast Guard.
After exploring Castle Williams, our group explored some of the other historic structures in the park. Liggett Hall was built in 1929 as an army barracks capable of housing an entire regiment. The 16th regiment was stationed there at the time and been living in temporary wooden structures. This was the largest structure the Army built prior to the Pentagon.
Construction of the 400 yard Liggett Hall down the widest part of the island prevented a proposed air-strip from being placed there. LaGuardia airport was instead built out in Queens.
In the building’s archway, we saw a sculpture by Hashimoto called Never Comes Tomorrow. It is meant to represent a time vortex between the historic side of the island and the more recent additions on the other side of the building.
Next door to Liggett Hall is the hospital that served the Army Base. The Smothers Brothers (comedians) were born in that hospital when their father was stationed on the island.
There is also a historic theater, built in 1939 for the island residents. We had theaters like this in Staten Island, too, that were still operational in the 70s and 80s when I grew up there. I remember seeing Mary Poppins and Disney’s Robin Hood in a theater just like this.
Across the way from Liggett Hall is Colonel’s Row. These are six large homes, built in the 1870s for the high-ranking officers when the island became an army base. These homes were originally on the waterfront, but the island was later expanded with landfill from the excavation of the Lexington Avenue subway line. These homes are now used for art shows and non-profit organizations.
To see my other Governors Island posts, please click below:
- Battery Maritime Building
- Soissons Landing and Castle Williams
- Liggett Hall
- Fort Jay and The Hills (Coming Soon)
Location: New York Bay
Designation: National Monument
Date designation declared: 1/19/2001
Date of my visit: 9/11/2018