2013 Gratitude Project – Travel: NYC Islands

2013 Gratitude Project – Travel: NYC Islands

This month will be a celebration of travel. I am so grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had over my nearly thirty years to explore the world. Click here to read about my 2013 November Gratitude Project – Travel  

Most of New York City is made up of islands. Two of the boroughs are islands – Manhattan and Staten Island – two boroughs are on Long Island – Queens and Brooklyn – and there are many other islands around these. I shared my experience on Liberty Island two days ago, and today I wanted to share highlights of my adventures on three islands of NYC – Governor’s Island, Roosevelt Island and the borough of Staten Island.

Staten Island

Goats and bridgeAs mentioned, this island is one of the five boroughs that make up New York City. However, after wandering around for a day on Staten Island I don’t get why it is part of NYC. The culture and feel of Staten Island is just so different from the rest of the city I experienced. And, if you look at a map, Staten Island seems so much more a part of New Jersey than New York. Anyway, that is a debate for another forum and time as I’m sure is already taking place somewhere.

After riding the big orange Staten Island Ferry over from Manhattan, I meandered through the streets and found my way to Fort Wadsworth. It is one of the oldest military installations in the country and part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. Its location at the Narrows of New York Harbor provided a very strategic location for defense. It also sits right under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which had a net installed under it during World War II to catch submarines.

The most interesting part of this location were the older ruins that they keep goats on to manage the poison ivy and other weeds.

5411_234259840636_5930257_nFrom the fort I made my way to the very end of Staten Island to find an old house, built in the seventeenth century, with an interesting story that isn’t told often. The Conference House hosted a peace treaty conference during the American Revolution that I should have liked to be a fly on the wall for. It was destined to fail from the outset since neither side was willing to concede. Participants included John Adams, Lord Howe and Benjamin Franklin.

From there I walked to the boardwalk passing flocks of wild turkeys, an odd sight for New York City. I also visited some other historic house. It was home to a famous artist, though I hadn’t heard of her before and I still don’t really know who she is.

Governor’s Island

This island is accessible via a ferry leaving from the Battery Maritime Building. This whole island is a military installation that has served the U.S. for a couple hundred years. There are buildings from all eras of U.S. history including the original forts, officer’s houses from the Civil War, community buildings and housing from the twentieth century.

The day I wandered the island, there was a Civil War re-enactor showing how he loaded his gun near one of the old buildings. There were also art installations in some of the old houses. Many people were enjoying the road around the island as a walking or biking path. There are fantastic views of Liberty Island and the harbor.

Roosevelt Island

The Queens Borough Bridge runs over it and the subway runs under it connecting Manhattan to Queens. However, the best way to get there is on the cable car at the base of the bridge. This island is covered with old hospitals and asylums and housing for workers and families who visited. Now there is just a vibrant community. There are some ruins of the old hospitals and I think one or two asylums still exist.

I don’t know what it was about Roosevelt Island, but I really enjoyed it. I just took a leisurely stroll around the island. There are historical buildings, public sculptures and people just living life.

None of these islands are common on itineraries for visitors to NYC, but I would recommend them. Each is unique and offers a wonderful experience with a different look into New York’s culture and history. I am grateful that I took the time to explore these off-the-beaten-track sites. 

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