a bucolic world returned to Manhattan

The 16 acres formerly occupied by the World Trade Center is not the only large lower Manhattan site whose future is being contested these days; it’s merely the most visible.

On Friday we toured some of the 172 acres which contain this landscape:

The house in its sylvan setting lies only a thousand yards from this scene:

In the mid-80’s my loft apartment was the second floor from the top of the small early-19th-century brick house in the center of the picture above.

The landscape in the first picture is on Governors Island, located just south of Manhattan. The house in the second is 105 Broad St., part of the landmarked Manhattan block which includes the Fraunces Tavern historic site next door.

In between these two views lie these dock pilings:

and water, churning, sometimes angrily, between Manhattan and Brooklyn while it tosses boats serious and gay:

including this particular ferry boat deck, which on Saturday supported a handsome, and very silent, shipmate:

During the three years I lived in the canyon of ancient Broad Street I could look out my windows to salute the Statue of Liberty's motionless sentinel to the south or the busy little car ferry to the east. Stubbornly refusing to carry civilians, every 10 minutes the floating shuttle left its slip for its short hop to the green island just beyond FDR Drive.

Today the Coast Guard has left, and the Federal Government has handed the island over to New York. The island is ours! A limited number of people are able to visit the oasis for a limited time, apparently because of its inadequate public facilities and because of imminent survey and construction activity, before it is closed again, perhaps for years.

What happens next? Supposedly it's entirely unresolved, but while we don't know the answer Im sure there are many who think they already do.

The future disposition of this precious natural and historical treasure is up to us – or it should be. The reality however is that we probably won't escape the curse of our contemporary officials' bad taste and bad judgment. We also seem to be kept in the dark lately, probably deliberately. Add a scepticism fed by consideration of the huge amount of money and power at stake and we should not be surprised if what ends up happening on New York's Governors Island is not in the best interest of most New Yorkers.

But even if we lose, the decisions which define that loss must not be made in unlighted rooms.


See "Army Brat Life at its Best," a personal and idyiosyncratic site with history and pictures and memories.

I loved your analysis of Governors Island. In the 60's and 70's my roommates (girls) would spend the night there with their military boyfriends. There were apparently no restrictions in those days!


I wonder how many boys made it over.

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Published on August 3, 2003 6:34 PM.

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