Governors Island’s New 30-Acre Park, Designed by West 8 is Open

Ball Fields from the Hills | Credit ©Timothy Schenck Photography

Governors Island opened to an eager public on Saturday, May 24. Thousands of visitors enjoyed the Island’s”new round fountains, swooping paths, elliptical enclosures, fluid flower beds, and undulating lawns” and reveled in the abundance of arts and crafts, musical and theatrical performances that were part of the Opening Day Family Festival hosted by the Governors Island Alliance.

Ball-Fields | Credit ©West8
Ball Fields | © Timothy Schenck Photography

Only a seven-minute ferry ride from Brooklyn and Manhattan, Governors Island “feels distant yet impossibly close, and the juxtaposition of vertical city and languorous landscape is almost surreal“ says New York Magazine. Leslie Koch, president of the Trust for Governors Island, enthusiastically declared that “for the price of a $2 round-trip ferry ride, you really feel like you’re on vacation.”

Hammock Grove | Credit ©West 8

Six years in the making, 30 acres of new park and public space on Governor’s Island are open to the public. The West 8  NY team was there to witness the spectacle. For West 8, the transformation of this abandoned military base and unique, windblown island into an idyllic destination, a green broccoli in the water, has constituted an incredibly rewarding journey. “We designed the park to take advantage of Governors Island’s amazing assets. We couldn’t be happier to see people enjoying the park and making it their own”, says West 8 New York’s Principal, Jamie Maslyn Larson.

The 30 acres of new park designed by West 8 has been touted as one of “New York’s new jewels” by the press, it encompasses:
• Liggett Terrace, a sunny, 6 acre plaza with seasonal plantings, seating, water features and public art;
• Hammock Grove, a verdant 10 acre space that is home to 1,500 new trees, play areas and 50 hammocks
• The Play Lawn, 14 acres for play and relaxation that includes two natural turf ball fields sized for adult softball and Little League baseball.

East Liggett | ©Timothy Schenck Photography
East Liggett | Credit © West-8

In addition, new welcome areas have been added at the Island’s ferry landings, as have key visitor amenities, including lighting, seating and signage throughout the Historic District.

Liggett Hedges | Credit ©West 8
Liggett Hedges Credit | ©West 8
Liggett Arch Reveal | Credit ©West 8

Visitors to the Island can also see the next phase of park under construction -the Hills, scheduled to be completed in 2015. Made of recycled fill materials, the Hills will rise 30 to 80 feet above the Island, giving visitors a 360-degree view of the Harbor.

The Island first opened to the public in 2005. Since then, it has undergone major changes, transforming into a new public destination for all New Yorkers. With the completion of the new 30 acres of park, approximately 125 acres of Governors Island are now fully open to the public.

Historic-District | Credit ©West 8

Last summer, the Island was open for 40 days and saw 398,000 visitors, 85% of whom were from New York’s five boroughs. This year, for the first time in history, the Island will be open to the public seven days a week. Offering a full calendar of events and a diverse range of new activities and programs that are sure to captivate visitors.

Liggett Play | Credit ©West 8
South Battery | Credit © Timothy Schenck Photography
Liggett Credit | ©Timothy Schenck Photography
Credit | ©Timothy Schenck Photography

Governors Island is open every day for visitors from May 24 – September 28.
Operating Hours |  Monday-Friday: 10 AM to 6 PM
Saturdays, Sundays, Memorial Day and Labor Day: 10 AM to 7 PM
The Island will be open on July 4th from 10 AM to 6 PM and is not open for fireworks viewing.

Governors Island’s New 30-Acre Park, Designed by West 8 is Open

Text Credit | West 8

Image Credit (as noted) | West 8 and Timothy Schenck Photography

About Damian Holmes 3293 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at