Cultural Landscapes Inventory
Governors Island National Monument
Governors Island National Monument, significant as a component of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century harbor defenses of New York City, as well as for its history as a continuously inhabited military installation for over 150 years, stands on Governors Island, one half mile south of Manhattan in the upper New York Harbor.
The national monument contains two forts dating to 1794 and 1811, representing First and Second Systems of harbor defenses, two national trends in military planning that protected the eastern seaboard from naval attack. The fortifications evolved as the island became a permanent army base rather than a defensive post beginning in the mid-1800s. Development of residential units, neighborhoods, parks, and administrative areas added to the campus-like army base that remained on the island until 1966.
Completed in 2003, shortly after its 2001 designation as a unit of the National Park Service, the entry in the Cultural Landscapes Inventory contains information about landscape features and characteristics relating to the monument's long period of significance, from 1794 to 1966. The report not only addresses the national monument, but also its context within the larger landscape of Governors Island that includes a National Historic Landmark District. The baseline information collected and presented in the CLI will assist with condition assessments of the cultural landscape and will inform future planning efforts including the forthcoming general management plan.