Even when you love this city as much as we do, there comes a point in the summer when it becomes unbearable. It’s as though the skyscrapers bend, crowding around you, imposing their crushing weight of glass, steel, stone and concrete. The streets are open blast furnaces filled with throngs of sweaty human kindling. The claustrophobic subway stations become pressure cookers filled with the suffocating, putrid stew of slowly tenderizing bodies. Even your daily commute isn’t immune. The trains travel slower, the buses less frequently, and foot traffic runs at an even more uncivilized, frenetic pace than usual. Soon, your emotional armor, so methodically constructed and maintained, goes from disheveled to distressed to nonexistent. That thick, calloused skin — the pride of all New Yorkers — is peeled right off, unceremoniously, like a discarded rind, mercilessly exposing the raw, tender nerves just beneath. Under such dire circumstances, there’s only one solution: you must leave. Even if just for a night, a day, a few hours.
Though some abscond to holidays in distant foreign lands, and still others opt for remaining in the general vicinity by way of The Shore, there is an option that constitutes a much lower hanging fruit: Governors Island, a landmark oasis a mere 800 yards off the coast of Lower Manhattan.
Having changed ownership numerous times before and after the Revolutionary War, the one time colonial outpost and later modern military quarters were held for many years as restricted Federal lands. However, under the current stewardship of the Trust for Governors Island, Governors Island Alliance, and National Park Service, the 172-acre island has been declared a public space, offering music and arts festivals, vintage baseball games, and various other events throughout the season, which runs May 28 through September 25 this year.
The island is perfectly designed for walking as well as biking, of which there are a number of companies offering individual and group rentals. Additional amenities include imaginative, state-of-the-art playgrounds for children (and adults, if so inclined), a large area in which food vendors operate in trucks and stands, mini-golf, and numerous art exhibitions, installations and activities.
On that last note, a few words about a current exhibition, Michael Richards: Winged at The Arts Center at Governors Island. I cannot say enough about this excellent exhibit, the brilliance of the late Mr. Richard’s work, and how apropos the themes, symbols and his perspectives are, particularly so given the current racial tensions in America.
With The Hills officially open this week, there is even more to discover. The four man-made hills will offer yet more grassy knolls upon which to lay your picnic blanket, breathtaking views, and… giant slides (who doesn’t love a slide?).*** Ferries are free on weekends until 11:30 am and take less than 10 minutes from the Maritime Building (10 South Street) in Manhattan and Pier 6 (Brooklyn Bridge Park) in Brooklyn.
***Update: For more information on The Hills at Governors Island, our friend Traci at Slow Nature Fast City did a lovely write-up here. Check it out!
Pair it with:
A meal from Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights
Before we moved east, Lynn and I visited New York City multiple times a year. On these holidays, we always came prepared with a new best-of list of restaurants to try out. But there was one constant: we always ended up at the famous Halal Guys cart for at least one meal. So imagine our excitement when we came across Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights at Governors Island, a Vendy Award Finalist, serving Halal multi-ethnic Jamaican fusion food. And we weren’t disappointed, what with the moderate prices and large portions of incredible Jerk Chicken and Chicken Curry or the accompanying sides of rice and beans, lentil stew, collard greens, and cooked cabbage. Sure, the weather was a bit warm for such spiciness, but you’d never know it watching us go at it. I can assure you, before the season on Governors Island closes, we’ll be back for seconds.