• Visitors tour Castle Williams.

    Governors Island

    National Monument New York

Steve de Carteret

Steve de Carteret visiting the island with his family. Steve helped the National Park Service Park Rangers uncover much of the island’s history during his many visits back.
Steve de Carteret visiting the island with his family. Steve helped the National Park Service Park Rangers uncover much of the island’s history during his many visits back.
NPS Photo Credit
 

Steve de Carteret
Son of a U.S. Coast Guard Captain, 1965-1970

As a teenager, Steve de Carteret moved to Governors Island with the Coast Guard in 1965 during a crucial time period for Governors Island. The Army was leaving the post and the Coast Guard was moving onto it. He remembers the Change of Command ceremony in 1966 and how the Army hoped to fire a ceremonial last shot from one of the cannons in Fort Jay. These cannons, as they do today, faced New York City. The Army used wadding and gunpowder, not wanting to fire an actual cannonball at the city . That year though, New York was experiencing a drought. When the cannon shot off, the wadding came out and the moat caught fire. As he puts it, “...the Change of Command ceremony was punctuated by fire engines and everybody reporting to put out the fire in the moat.” His family lived in old Fort Jay on Governors Island. The barracks in the fort were often used for officers with families. They stayed until 1970.

Steve’s love for Governors Island has brought him back as a National Park Service Volunteer-in-Park. For the past few years, Steve has provided visitors with a more personalized account of how much this now NPS Site was once a home to many families in the U.S. military.

Did You Know?

General John J. Pershing about 1916.

At the start of American entry into World War I and just before leaving Governors Island in May 1917 to lead the 2 million soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force in France, General John J. Pershing (1860-1948) ran uptown into Manhattan to register early for the draft of the very army he was leading to France. He was going to be busy and out of town on draft registration day.