At this isle in New York — Medieval Meets Modern. – Sneha Saigal
Ditch the train, plane or car & hop onto this ferry instead…
When I first arrived to take the ferry to Governor’s Island from the Battery Maritime Museum I didn’t quite know what to expect from this trip. I was glad enough that I wasn’t standing in the hour-long queues for ferries heading to Staten Island.
What lay ahead was a surreal collision of New York’s historic past fused into its futuristic present — a vacillation between each era’s timeless love for the city, architecture and community yet, one that stood for democracy, freedom and opportunity.
The waves gushed onto the sides of the ferry and the crisp light breeze, with a splash of warmth from the sun, brushed my skin while aboard the ferry on the Hudson. A few clicks, boomerangs and videos later we arrived at the 172-acre island’s gateway and set foot on Soissons Landing.
Adorned with greenery and devoid of motorised vehicles of any sort, the island entices you to walk or bike around and unravel its stories from the past whilst indulging in the glamorous luxuries it offers today.
Originally home to the Lenape tribe and early New York settlers, Governor’s Island had served as a fishing ground until it was later transformed into a military base. Fast-forward to 1775 when the colonial militia constructed Fort Jay — the oldest structure on the island that consists of the classic star-shaped architecture widespread in the country. Open to public for tours and occasionally home to artists that bring back music from the American Civil War Era, this is a must-visit for all history geeks out there!
Another national historic landmark on the island is the uniquely crafted Castle Williams located to the west of the island. Designed by and a namesake of Chief Engineer of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Col. Jonathan Williams, the castle was erected in 1811. Interestingly, Castle Williams came to represent state of the art in fortifications for its time and influenced the design of coastal defenses for the next fifty years.
From being remodelled as a prison prison facility during Civil War to later being converted into a youth community centre for scouts, Castle Williams stood as a majestic red sandstone work of art. A real beauty!
Where Fort Jay and Castle Williams lend the island its medieval identity, Liggett’s Terrace, along with the Hills and Nolan Park, give the modern New York flavour by serving up eclectic global cuisines and welcoming international art and music festivals.
Hands-down my favourite was the Chicken Tibs with collard greens and Tikel Gomen topped with Awaze sauce (yes, my Indian taste buds were satiated with this chili pepper blend) from the not-easy-to-miss-very-yellow Makina Cafe food truck, often parked in Governors Island on weekends!! I paired my Eritrean fare with a frozen lime margarita from Little Eva’s followed by a Cortado from Brooklyn’s very own third wave coffee pioneer, Joe Coffee Company, also parked here.
Loaded with good food, some booze and caffeine, I decided to stroll along Nolan Park only to be struck by what lay in front of me — majestic greens with One World in the background!
Quiet. Fresh. Uncrowded. One of its kind especially in New York.
Just when I thought the whole shebang couldn’t get any better, I stumbled upon Collective Retreats — a newly opened glamping accommodation surrounded by lush greenery, pristine waters and in direct view of Lady Liberty. A perfect rendezvous of nature coupled with luxurious amenities.
I am glad I decided to catch a glimpse of the stunning sunset over the Hudson, and simultaneously watched the city lights come on. One. By. One.
It swept me away!
Live Music. Farm-to-table affairs. BBQ pits. There was no end to the serious weekend vibes the Three Peaks Lodge was revving. One part aperol, one part prosecco, a splash of soda and an orange wedge later I found myself nestled on the sun-kissed patio of the lodge blanketed with a spotless overhead blue sky — completely smitten!
Truth be told, my best takeaway from this getaway was not planning or knowing what to expect at all from this day venture. For once, I just wanted to be and go with the flow, only to realise I’d chance upon a true isle escape literally 8 minutes away from Manhattan!