An Afternoon in Ferry Land

Map by Lauren Nassef

Interact With Art

1. Unsure of the story behind the oyster-shell installation in front of the Sculptors Guild house, or perhaps a room full of wood-and-plastic pieces hanging from the ceiling? Ask the curators themselves about any of the 68 works at a gallery talk on July 25.

2. Stop by the Angel Orensanz Museum’s building for “A Little Retrospective,” an exhibition featuring drawings, fabric sculptures, and other works by the Spanish artist.

Anthony McCall's light sculpture, "Between You and I."Photo: Sam Horine/Courtesy of Creative Time

3. Cool off inside the St. Cornelius Chapel, where Anthony McCall’s ghostly 3-D light sculpture “Between You and I” is projected in a pitch-black space.

AA Bronson and Peter Hobbs's "Invocation of the Queer Spirits."Photo: Charlie Samuels/Courtesy of Creative Time

4. In Building 20, borrow a digital music player loaded with a site-specific soundtrack written by punk legend Patti Smith and her daughter Jesse, then go on a self-guided tour of Creative Time’s Plot09 installation.

5. Take a swipe at Klaus Weber’s “Large Dark Wind Chime,” hanging from a tree and tuned to “the devil’s interval,” a sound so spooky it was once banned by the Catholic Church.

6. At Fort Jay Theater watch Isle of the Dead, a 19-minute tongue-in-cheek zombie film (what would summer be without one?) shot on the island earlier this year.

Golf, Bike, Beach

7. The city’s third Water Taxi Beach location opens adjacent to the ferry dock on July 11. A nighttime concert series—headliners include Erykah Badu (8/4) and, yes, the B-52’s (8/18)—starts opening night. Besides housing two distinct restaurants—The Beach Grill for hot dogs, burgers, and the like, and the Backstage Café for wraps and salads—the beach will be the only spot on the island where booze is served. Spread a towel on the sand and order a summery Blue Jinn cocktail and a bacon-wrapped hot dog. Take note: While you’ll be allowed to take food to go, you’ll need to do your drinking on-site.

Biking on the promenade.Photo: Juliana Sohn for New York Magazine

8. Bike rentals go fast, so arrive by 1 p.m. There are about 200 singles (from $10 for one hour), as well as a few tandems (from $15 for one hour) and quads (from $20 for one hour). On Fridays rentals are free.

9. The 2.2-mile promenade around the island’s perimeter is a great ride: flat, breezy, and, of course, lots of great views.

Photo: Juliana Sohn for New York Magazine

10. Each hole at the City of Dreams mini-golf course was designed by a different artist, and some are more conceptual than others. One, signifying the journey of life, is just a straight shot down a narrow green. Others, like the refashioned Skee-Ball ramp (hole four) and the guitar sculpture with PVC piping for strings (hole six), are putt-putt masterpieces.

Island Eating

11. Veronica’s Kitchen is a Jamaican-food cart serving jerk chicken and curry shrimp.

12. Pyramid Coffee is a covered café with tables and chairs; not exactly Shake Shack caliber, but you can get sandwiches and snacks.

13. A produce stand will materialize here just as soon as the eggplants and tomatoes from the adjacent three-acre organic farm, run by Red Hook’s Added Value, ripen later this month.

14. The food truck George’s has everything from hot dogs and gyros to roast-beef sandwiches and Philly cheesesteaks.

And for History

Photo: Juliana Sohn for New York Magazine

15. Take the 45-minute ranger-guided tour of Castle Williams and Fort Jay, which once protected New York Harbor. Or go solo; climb down into Fort Jay’s six-foot-deep grassy moat, or bike into its courtyard via the bridge entrance.

16. Study the bleak photos of the island’s recent past inside the Commanding Officer’s House; they show a (now-demolished) Burger King and bowling alley, evidence of just how far the island has come.

Where to Park It
Four breezy, shady, dreamy picnic spots.

Island-supplied hammocks.Photo: Juliana Sohn for New York Magazine

17. Picnic Point Off-limits until this summer, the island’s southwestern corner looks right up the crown of the Statue of Liberty, and has wooden picnic tables and a scattering of hammocks.

18. Porches in Nolan Park Loungeable Adirondack chairs now dot the verandas of the genteel nineteenth- century officers’ quarters lining Nolan Park.

19. Parade Ground An open, grassy area about two-thirds the size of Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, with just a fraction of the crowds.

20. Colonels’ Row One of the best-shaded parts of the island, and it’s close to George’s food truck.

An Afternoon in Ferry Land