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HomeCoronavirusGovernors Island Reopening Plans for 2020 : Reserved Ticketing and Limited Capacity

Governors Island Reopening Plans for 2020 : Reserved Ticketing and Limited Capacity

Governors Island Reopening Plans for 2020 : Reserved Ticketing and Limited Capacity

One of the very best views of Lower Manhattan from the edge of Governors Island.

Today, it was announced that Governors Island would be reopening on July 15, 2020 with limited capacity and reserved tickets.

The Trust for Governors Island had previously postponed the landmark’s April 2020 opening due to the COVID-19 crisis. For some time it was unknown if or when a reopening would take place. Ticketing availability would begin on Friday, July 10.

The island will be open on weekdays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm on weekends.

Interestingly, their approach for reopening is a mirror image of my own June 18th proposal to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In years past, I’ve witnessed crowded ferries traveling to the island from Manhattan. The notion of reserved tickets which I suggested would ensure limited capacity not only on the ferries themselves, but on the island as well.

I also suggested their having an earlier than usual enforced time of departure from the island. This would further allow for controlled capacities aboard the ferries at the end of the day; in turn, allowing for greater crowd departure control.

It’s not clear if certain locales and sections on the island would be sectioned off as I mentioned in my proposal but we’ll investigate further.

Now in my mind, the ideas I presented should have been foregone conclusions. The Highline is already scheduled to reopen around the same time with reserved tickets and a unidirectional flow. Will that sort of flow be required on the island? Is it even enforceable considering the size of the island? Likely not.

The Vessel’s had reserved ticketing since it first opened up. I think it’s likely that we’ll be seeing this sort of approach repeated again and again.

In the end, I’m merely happy to see the island reopening. New Yorkers need this. I need this.

Photograph featuring a partial view of Lower Manhattan as seen from one point within Governors Island.

Below, you can view the official Press Release:

NEW YORK (July 8, 2020) —The Trust for Governors Island announced today that Governors Island will reopen to the public with limited capacity for passive recreational activities on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Starting that day, Governors Island will be open to visitors daily from 10AM to 6PM on weekdays and 10AM to 7PM on weekends.In order to serve New Yorkers most in need of open space, The Trust is launching an extensive outreach initiative and offering free ferries to all New York City Housing Authority residents and community organizations across the city. Brooklyn ferries will also be redirected from Pier 6 to Red Hook’s Atlantic Basin, beginningSaturday, July 18.

The Trust initially postponed its 2020 season in April in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and for the health and safety of its visitors, staff, tenants, vendors and community of cultural organizations. To ensure a safe environment for all visitors, The Trust will launch a number of health, safety and social distancing protocols upon reopening, including a new ticket reservation system to manage capacity on ferries. With these measures in place, visitors will be able to safely enjoy the Island’s wide-open park spaces, historic surroundings, and stunning public art while engaging in passive recreation activities like biking, birding, picnicking and much more.

“Equitable access to open spaces in our city has never been more important, so we’re thrilled to welcome New Yorkers to Governors Island in just a few short weeks,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “This summer, Governors Island will be an affordable, local getaway for New Yorkers who need it most.We’ve focused on a plan to make the Island more accessible to New Yorkers in areas underserved by parks this season, and have taken important steps to ensure the health and safety of our visitors. We look forward to seeing everyone on the ferry!”

“Governors Island is an idyllic place for New Yorkers to spread out and enjoy summer in the City,” said Alicia Glen, Chair of the Trust for Governors Island. “While the season was cut short by the pandemic, the Trust has worked around the clock to increase access to the Island for those hardest hit. I look forward to enjoying the views from the Island’s fabulous outdoor dining spots – thank you to the Trust staff and all of our partners for giving New Yorkers safe and secure access to one of the City’s true gems.”

“We’re thrilled to reopen Governors Island this July, in order to provide New Yorkers even more ways to celebrate summer, safely,” said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been. “Governors Island has put smart, thoughtful plans in place to ensure safety and to be a respite for communities across the five boroughs at a time when open space is needed more than ever. As in all parks, for your safety and for those around you, visitors should continue to practice social distancing and wear a face covering when on the ferry and while enjoying all that the Island has to offer.”

blank“As New Yorkers seek opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor spaces where they can maintain social distancing and adhere to health guidelines, the re-opening of Governors Island comes at the perfect moment,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “This summer, the public will once again be able to explore the history, green spaces, and excellent views of the Manhattan skyline available on Governors Island. I thank the Trust for Governors Island for expanding access to the Island’s invaluable open space to more New Yorkers during this time by waiving ferry fees for NYCHA residents, seniors and select community-based organizations.”

“This announcement is great news for Red Hook and our entire City. Although social distancing is far from over, public outdoor spaces provide a much-needed escape from the confines of our homes,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. “With Red Hook’s ball fields still closed, the reopening of Governors Island is an excellent alternative for families to enjoy open spaces and fresh air. Red Hook residents have always enjoyed a great view of Governors Island, but still find it inconvenient to get there. This will change with this summer’s direct ferry service from Red Hook, offering recreational opportunities exactly when families yearn for outdoor summer fun. I am particularly thankful that the Trust has offered free ferry service to NYCHA residents and local community groups, which will mean even more of our neighbors can visit the Island this summer. I am looking forward to enjoying the fresh air and cannot wait to see the island alive with activity once more.”

“At a time when New Yorkers need good news, I’m thrilled Governors Island will be open this summer,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.“The Council has been fighting to save summer for as many New Yorkers as possible, and to have a gem like this one open and accessible is a big win. The Council is glad to see the Trust for Governors Island has a plan to ensure New Yorkers are able to enjoy this beautiful space safely, and I encourage all New Yorkers to continue practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings as recommended by health officials.”

“Summer is not cancelled, with responsible planning! I thank the Trust for Governors Island for all its work to make this reopening possible” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “Our public parks are a public health resource, and I am thrilled that this 172-acre gem in the heart of New York Harbor will soon be open for families to enjoy and safely social distance. With free ferries being offered to our neighbors at NYCHA and local community groups, I highly encourage all of my constituents to come out and enjoy the sun. Thank you to Clare Newman and all the staff at the Trust for their unwavering commitment to protecting New Yorkers’ health and safety this summer and expanding access to open space.”

“As the City recovers, we need more parks and large spaces to reopen so New Yorkers can enjoy the summer while social distancing. Governors Island’s plan to move a ferry stop to Red Hook and provide free ferries for NYCHA residents strikes that balance perfectly. I am proud to support their reopening plan and look forward to joining residents there to take in the unparalleled sight of New York Harbor flanked by Red Hook, Manhattan, and the Statue of Liberty,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“As we implement new ways for New Yorkers to enjoy the outdoors while also safely social distancing, news that the 172 acres of Governors Island will re-open to New Yorkers is an exciting boost to our city’s open space capacity,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. “I am particularly thankful to the Trust for offering free ferry service to some of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic, namely seniors and NYCHA residents. With partnerships like this, we can ensure a safe and enjoyable summer for vulnerable New Yorkers who are seeking some time outside their homes.”

“I adore Governors Island — it’s considered part of Manhattan, after all — so I’ll be thrilled to be able to visit again once it reopens, even under the needed social-distancing guidelines on the ferries and beyond,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I applaud the Trust for Governors Island for launching free ferry reservations for NYCHA residents and community organizations — giving everyone the chance to enjoy free recreational open space when we need it most.”

The Ferry in Lower Manhattan from which we departed on our way to Governor’s Island.

“This is welcome news for the residents of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and all New Yorkers who appreciate the wonders of Governors Island,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents the Island and nearby parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. “After spending much of the year sheltering in place, we now can venture out to explore Governors Island’s lush greens, wide-open spaces, breathtaking views, and historic architecture. I applaud the Trust for Governors Island for their stewardship of the island, and their efforts to reopen access with appropriate social distancing and safety guidelines in place for the benefit of all visitors.”

“I thank the Trust for Governors Island for thinking of all New Yorkers by providing ferry service from Atlantic Basin/Red Hook to Governors Island this year,” said Assistant New York State Assembly Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “There has never been a more important time to provide all community members access to fresh air and the ability to maintain social distancing. The free ferry rides for NYCHA residents will ensure everyone has equal access to this beautiful Island. Fresh air, open space and a stunning view is just what we all need now.”

“Manhattan Community Board 1 and the lower Manhattan community are excited for the re-opening of Governors Island,” said Anthony Notaro, Jr., Chairperson, Manhattan Community Board 1. “This jewel of our city will offer a welcome environment for all to enjoy. Although initially, there will be a limit on the capacity of the island, it is a sign of moving into the future in a positive way.”

“People in our district, and across the city, are going to need more and more safe open space as this pandemic continues through the summer,” said Michael Racioppo, District Manager, Brooklyn Community Board 6. To that point we’re always happy when Governors Island opens up, but especially this year”

“We can’t wait to welcome New Yorkers back to Governors Island to enjoy a true escape from the concrete jungle,” said Merritt Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island. “At a time when our city needs open green space more than ever, the Island brings fresh air, cool harbor breezes and plenty of room to bike, picnic and relax. We’re so grateful to our supporters and volunteers for helping us make the 2020 season safe and welcoming for everyone.”


Beginning July 15, ferries will depart daily from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street in Manhattan. Capacity on Governors Island’s ferries will be limited during the 2020 season to allow for social distancing. For the first time, visitors will be able to reserve tickets in advance through a new reservation system.A limited number of tickets will be available for purchase in person for each time slot, and will be made available to the general public on Friday, July 10 at 10:00AM by visiting govisland.org.

To increase access for communities less served by open space in New York City, Brooklyn ferries to Governors Island will depart from Atlantic Basin/Red Hook rather than Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 in 2020. Brooklyn ferries will begin service on Saturday, July 18 and will run on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets for Brooklyn Ferries may also be reserved at govisland.org beginning July 10.

Round-trip ferry tickets will cost $3 for adults. Ferries are always free for riders age 12 and under as well as Governors Island Members, IDNYC holders and current and former military service members. Ferries are now also free for all New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents and seniors 65 and over. Morning ferries before noon on Saturdays and Sundays are free for all. There is no surcharge for bicycles at any time. Visitors are required to wear face coverings at all times while traveling on Governors Island ferries.

The Trust will offer special waived fares for non-profit community-based organizations, youth camps, and senior centers throughout New York City. To inquire about special group visits, organizations may email [email protected].

The city’s NYC Ferry service will offer additional connections to Governors Island’s Yankee Pier via a dedicated weekend shuttle from Wall Street/Pier 11 which will operate approximately every 30 minutes. Tickets are $2.75 or by free transfer from any NYC Ferry route. All visitors who arrive to Governors Island via NYC Ferry are strongly encouraged to depart using NYC Ferry as the Governors Island ferry service will operate on a reservation ticket service and walk-up tickets are not guaranteed. NYC Ferry riders are required to wear a mask or face covering while onboard, even on the upper deck. For ticketing information and for a full schedule, please visit www.ferry.nyc.


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governors Island will operate with limited services and will remain open for passive recreation activities only, such as hiking, walking and running, biking and birding throughout its expansive landscapes.

Visitors can enjoy sweeping, 360-degree views of the surrounding skylines and Harbor landmarks like the Statue of Liberty from the summit of Outlook Hill. Hammock Grove provides a relaxing respite in comfortable hammocks tucked cozily into secluded pockets in the foliage. Kids will enjoy climbing and swinging at the Hammock Grove Play Area and zipping down Slide Hill’s collection of twist-y, turn-y slides including a tandem slide and the longest slide in the city at 57 feet long. The Urban Farm will be open Saturdays and Sundays for visitors to explore GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden and Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center.

Public art installations remain on view, including Shantell Martin’s The May Room, a commission for the 2019 season, Rachel Whiteread’s Cabin, a permanent installation on Discovery Hill, and more.

Bike rentals will be available from Blazing Saddles and Citi Bike, and visitors may bring their own bikes on Governors Island ferries for no additional fee to enjoy the Island’s seven miles of car-free bike paths. Blazing Saddles also rents pedal cars, surreys, scooters and more and will offer free one-hour bike rentals on weekday mornings before noon. Heightened cleaning and safety protocols will also be implemented.

Visitors will be able to embark on self-guided tours offered through Urban Archive. Visitors can follow the physical route of these walks across the Island using their smartphones, revealing new historic photos as they go. A variety of Governors Island self-guided walks exploring its history and transformation are available on govisland.org and through Urban Archive’s app.


Food and beverage vendors offering a wide range of options will be available for Island visitors to enjoy upon reopening. AllGovernors Island vendors will comply with the latest food service guidelines and adhere to health and safety plans thatminimize person-to-person contact, emphasize hygiene, and allow for social distancing in serving areas.

This year’s vendors present at opening will include:

  • Island Oyster,a one-of-a-kind destination featuring easygoing summer fare, tropically inspired cocktails and panoramic views
  • Taco Vista, purveyors of tacos, margaritas, craft beer and some of the best views from Governors Island
  • Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights, an award-winning Jamaican-fusion establishment offering Caribbean classics and homemade desserts as well as vegan and gluten-free options
  • Kimchi Taco, which serves Korean-inspired tacos and bowls as well as appetizers
  • Makina, which serves traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean food with a modern twist
  • Threes Brewing and The Meat Hook, two Brooklyn mainstays that will combine local craft beer options with offerings from the acclaimed butcher shop
  • The refreshing, delicious gourmet ice pops and slushes of People’s Pops
  • Melt Bakery, whose unique cookie and ice cream flavor pairings create surprising and delightful ice cream sandwiches
  • Venezuelan-style hot dogs complete with mounds of toppings and accompaniments from Perros Y Vainas
  • Coffee and tea plus sweet treats and light bites from Joe Coffee
  • Shareable snacks and takeaway lunch options from Three Peaks Lodgeat Collective Retreats
  • Little Eva’s, a longtime Island establishment offering summertime grilled fare as well as sister location, Sea Biscuit, which features picturesque Harbor views
  • Pizza Yard brings gourmet Neapolitan and Roman-style wood-fired pizzas to historic Colonels Row
  • Sweet and savory crepes from Everything About Crepesmake a perfect lunch, snack or dessert
  • Wings Lovers offers a robust range of flavors and options to satisfy any chicken wing enthusiast
  • Terry &Yaki specializes in halal teriyaki chicken bowls along with vegan options and snacks
  • Authentic Belgian waffles heaped with tasty toppings at Wafels &Dinges


For the safety of visitors, the Trust will implement increased cleaning protocols and schedules in all restrooms, in passenger compartments aboard ferries, and in high-touch areas across the Island.

Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be installed throughout the Island.Ferries, restrooms, ATMs, bike rentals through Blazing Saddles and Citi Bikes will also be regularly disinfected. These and other steps will be taken to ensure a safe and healthy visit for Island patrons.

All visitors will be required to wear face coverings while riding the ferry, or when social distancing is not possible.




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