Governor's Island Is Set to Reopen for the Summer, But Does Anyone Care?

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D'Angelo, Johnson, Brown, Rabkin, and Hollis.Photos: Tim Murphy


Governor's Island — that slightly mysterious dot of parkland and old, crumbling officers' houses sitting in the middle of New York Harbor — will for the first time ever this summer be open to the public on both Saturdays and Sundays, according to an announcement yesterday from the city-state agency that runs it. Lots of time to spend on lots of pretty parkland with lots of amazing views. But what do actual New Yorkers know about it? We asked a few and were favorably surprised by their answers — not that many are actually planning to visit.

CHRIS D'ANGELO, Yonkers, auto-body student
Do you know where Governor's Island is? No. Where do you think it is? Staten Island? Nope. What do you think is there? I don't know. [We tell him.] Think you'll go visit it? Probably not. I don't have the time.

JOHNNIE JOHNSON, Westbury, New York, engineer
Where is Governor's Island? At the mouth of the East River. Yep. What's there? A big historic landmark. What is it though? I'm not sure. I guess it housed the governor at one time. It was a military base. Think you'll go this summer? Probably not. Like most New Yorkers, I haven't seen any of the sites in New York. What would you rather see? Ellis Island. It's historic, and I know a little more about it than Governor's Island.

CAMILLE M. BROWN, East Harlem, performer in The Lion King
Where is Governor's Island? It's in the middle of the harbor, isn't it? Do you know what's there? Isn't it decommissioned Navy buildings, some of which have some historical relevance architecturally? Pretty much. Ever been? I'd like to visit it. Where in the city would you most like to visit? I'd like to see City Island, but I've heard it's a little kitschy. And the Times just did a story on a bus that goes to the Bronx. I'm hearing interesting things about that.

LEO RABKIN (with wife Dorothea), Chelsea, artist
Where is Governor's Island? It's at the end of Manhattan, and it was used for the military. There's a lot of historic buildings there. How long have you lived in New York? Almost 50 years. Ever been to the island? No, it was never opened. Think you'll go? No. We're too old. Anywhere in the city you've never been that you'd liked to see? Isn't there an observation tower in Rockefeller Center? Yeah. Think you'll go this summer? Doubt it.

MARNI HOLLIS, Chelsea, actress
Where is Governor's Island? It's in the south, uh, across from the Statue of Liberty, down south between Staten Island and Manhattan, kind of where the Hudson and the East River come together? More or less. What's there? I understand there's some old buildings from when it was used as military housing? How long have you lived in the city? Over twenty years. What's the place you'd most like to see? I really can't think of anything. A friend of mine is moving to the Lower East Side, and I haven't gone exploring much on Avenue D. That's like a foreign territory to me. — Tim Murphy