… was proclaimed under the Antiquities Act by President Clinton on his last day in office, 2001.
From the Proclamation:
By the President of the United States of America
On the north tip of Governors Island, between the confluence of the Hudson and Eastern Rivers, Governors Island National Monument served as an outpost to protect New York City from sea attack. The monument, part of a larger 1985 National Historic Landmark District designation, contains two important historical objects, Castle William and Fort Jay. Between 1806 and 1811, these fortifications were constructed as part of the First and Second American Systems of Coastal Fortification. Castle William and Fort Jay represent two of the finest types of defensive structures in use from the Renaissance to the American Civil War. The monument also played important roles in the War of 1812, the American Civil War, and World Wars I and II.
The fortifications in the monument were built on the most strategic defensive positions on the island. Fort Jay, constructed between 1806 and 1809, is on the highest point of the island from which its glacis originally sloped down to the waterfront on all sides. Castle William, constructed between 1807 and 1811, occupies a rocky promontory as close as possible to the harbor channels and served as the most important strategic defensive point in the entrance to the New York Harbor. The monument also includes a number of associated historical buildings constructed as part of the garrison post in the early part of the 19th century.
Governors Island has been managed by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Coast Guard over the past 200 years. With the site no longer required for military or Coast Guard purposes, it provides an excellent opportunity for the public to observe and understand the harbor history, its defense, and its ecology.
From 1794 to 1966, the U.S. Army on Governors Island was part of the social, political, and economic tapestry of New York City. Today the island is vibrant summer seasonal venue of art, culture and performance against the backdrop of two centuries of military heritage and the skyline of one of the great cities of the world.
In 2003, the island was sold and transferred to two parties: 22 acres, designated as the Governors Island National Monument and administered by the National Park Service; and 150 acres is administered by The Trust for Governors Island. Today, city and federal agencies are planning the future of this former military installation into new public parkland and a spectacular destination in New York Harbor.
At this time, Governors Island is open to the public on a seasonal basis. Public services and facilities are very limited.