governors island pt 2: where are we? it’s like we’re lost

June 2, 2009 |  Category:   nyc outings













So I had a realization once we got off Governors Island. For those of you who watch the show Lost, you’ll know what I’m talking about and for those who don’t, just bear with me…but Governors Island is like the Dharma compound. Remember in Season 2 (or was it 3?) when we were first introduced to the Dharma living quarters and its seemingly normal suburban existence with cute little houses and lush green lawns and we were all like, WTF? This place is like that, complete with a vague underlying creepiness due largely to the fact that the buildings and houses are all abandoned since military personnel relocated off the island in 1996. The island (see? the “island”?) has over 200 buildings, many of them historically landmarked and some of the houses, particularly the cluster of yellow wood frame ones, are quite charming. Bits of evidence of the island’s military past is omnipresent and while walking down a cobblestoned path on our way to the ferry back to Manhattan, the sounds of dissonant and sparse piano chords from a puppet show that was being performed on the other side of the hill made a fitting and eerie soundtrack to this ghost town.

Ok, so how come no one told me that Madonna and Prince Harry were on the island the same day? (Not that I am a fan of either, but you know, still). Apparently the Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic was held that afternoon which explains why so many of the women coming off the ferry were dressed to the nines in fancy dresses and hats, walking jauntily past us in procession. I had no idea about the polo match till after the fact. I just chalked it up to island weirdness.

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  • bronwyn June 2, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Don’t get me started on Lost! It seems like the kind of thing I would love but I missed the first season and now there is no hope for me. Any time I have tried to watch it I am like WTF?!?!? And I did watch one of the Dharma compound episodes and was particularly confused. My mother explained it to me and I was still confused. Someday I’ll watch the DVD’s from the beginning. Anyway, Governor’s Island looks really beautiful (if a bit creepy). It looks quite big too. I love the image of jaunty women in hats strolling about and not seeming out of place.

  • Rita June 2, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Why has this not been rehabbed into expensive housing so close to NYC?

  • Jenna June 2, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Rita, it’s public land, sold to the people of NY in 2003 or thereabouts. There are deeds that prohibit development of permanent housing, thank god. All we need are more overpriced condos.

  • Gabriel June 2, 2009 at 8:57 am

    2 other day trips i like that also involve a ferry ride:

    – snug harbor in staten island. it’s a compound of buildings from the 1800s that used to house retired seamen. a few of it’s buildings were torn down in the 70’s after the retirement home moved to the carolinas. jackie onassis helped to stop this and it has been transformed into a cultural center that now houses a children’s museum, historical museum, art classes, artist studios, english garden, tuscan garden and a chinese garden. they have concerts on the lawn on some evenings. and there was a great restaurant on site with lots of outdoor seating and a musician playing cole porter – not sure if this part is still around.

    – alice austen house – she was a photographer in the 1800s which was rare for a woman in her time. the house has her photos and other artifacts. there’s a great front lawn that slopes down to the water facing new york harbor. it’s very surreal to sit there and watch huge ocean liners sail by so closely. the ships almost take up your entire field of vision.

  • mina June 2, 2009 at 10:05 am

    you’re right! that’s exactly the feeling that i was getting at…that eerie creepy feeling – especially since the interiors of the houses are actually quite nice. but no one lives in them.

    one time, my boyfriend and i tried to stay past the last ferry…just seeing if they would forget us and leave us on the island, and we could experience its creepiness at night. but lo and behold, a jeep came around and beeped us out of the park and onto the ferry.

    p.s. it’s amazing that they were on the same island – it’s so small that it would seem hard to miss such a presence…but again…that must have to do with the mystique of the island!

  • Jenna June 2, 2009 at 10:42 am

    gabriel, thanks for the tips. we’ll be checking it out. Mina, that is awesome that you tried to stay past the ferry.

  • Gabriel June 2, 2009 at 11:16 am

    there was a great jazz age lawn party on governor’s island last june. so many people dressed in looks inspired by the era. i hope they’re having it again this summer. go to the june 08 archives of to see a sample of what people wore.

  • nichole June 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Wow! I had no idea. I seriously want to visit. Your photos capture it beautifully!

  • Tumus June 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    *chuckles* Madonna and her pseudo-British accent.

  • Annie From Seattle June 3, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Fun adventure and I love what you are doing with the new camera!

  • RJ June 3, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    beautiful photographs!

  • Nicole Adrianne June 3, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    great photos. your girls are beautiful.