Located 800 yards from Lower Manhattan and even closer to Brooklyn, this 172-acre island in New York Harbor—the largest in the bay after Staten Island—was a quiet military installation under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army from 1794 to 1966 and of the Coast Guard until 1996. The federal government conveyed it to New York City and New York state for one dollar in 2003, and, with its great views of the harbor, it is now a popular destination for recreation, music and art.
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council hosts art residencies and exhibitions in Building 110, and the Figment festival, Big Apple Circus, Children's Museum of the Arts and others program arts events (both free and for fee) here as well. Ticketed concerts featuring top names in music (M.I.A., B52s) take place at "the beach."
Ferries are free and leave from both Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Manhattan ferries leave from the Battery Maritime Building, on the corner of South and Whitehall Streets. Brooklyn ferry service runs from Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park. For a ferry schedule, click here. For a map of Governors Island, click here.