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De Blasio Administration, Former Mayor Bloomberg, Trust for Governors Island Announce Hills on Governors Island Open to the Public

July 19, 2016

July 19 opening marks new chapter for Governors Island, adding 10 acres of public space for New York City

Island open Sunrise to Sunset on July 20 for one day only

Weekday ferries free for all through July 22

NEW YORK—The de Blasio Administration, Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and the Trust for Governors Island today announced The Hills on Governors Island are open to the public July 19, adding 10 new acres of public space for the City of New York. Following a ribbon cutting ceremony, New Yorkers and visitors eagerly explored the Hills and their new landscapes, public art, play areas, slides, and extraordinary 360 degree views of the New York Harbor, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey skylines, and the Statue of Liberty. Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, elected officials, community leaders and the public attended the ceremony.

The opening of the Hills marks a new chapter in the transformation of Governors Island from an abandoned former military base to what is envisioned to be a year-round destination for recreation, culture and innovation. Open to the public nearly 10 months ahead of schedule, the Hills are the crowning feature of the award-winning Governors Island Park and Public Space Master Plan, designed by acclaimed New York and Rotterdam based landscape architects West 8 urban design and landscape architecture. Made of recycled fill materials, the four Hills rise 25 to 70 feet above the Island.

In addition to enjoying the Hills, visitors can now walk or bike around the Island’s entire 2.2 mile promenade and enjoy the popular Picnic Point, which have been closed due to construction since 2012.

“This is an incredible park project that has spanned two administrations. No other city boasts anything quite like it,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With the opening of The Hills, Governors Island begins its next great chapter. This is a uniquely New York City destination that’s poised to become both a year-round attraction and a hub of innovation. Visitors entering New York harbor in the 21st century will be welcomed by a thriving Governors Island, in the same way they were welcomed by Ellis Island in the 19th and 20th.”

"Over the past 13 years, Governors Island has been transformed from a relic few New Yorkers knew about and even fewer visited into one of the most popular parks in our city - or any city,” said Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "The Hills are an extraordinary addition to the island that will inspire New Yorkers and visitors for many generations to come - and they are a powerful testament to what can happen when public servants, architects and artists, and generous supporters all work together to bring a common vision to life.”

“The ferries are running. The CitiBikes are rolling. The water has been switched on. And now the parks are open. With the completion of The Hills, Governors Island is ready to become a year-round destination,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, and member of the Governors Island Board of Directors. “We are so proud to see this new park opened to the public, and to embark on the next phase of bringing educators, innovators and entrepreneurs to further animate this amazing space.”

"The Hills we are opening today are the capstone of Governors Island's transformation," said Ronay Menschel, Chair of the Board of The Trust for Governors Island. "We are so excited to welcome New Yorkers from every neighborhood to relax on Grassy Hill, slide to the bottom of Slide Hill, climb up the scramble to the Outlook and experience art and nature on Discovery."

“Governor’s Island’s ongoing transformation into one of New York City’s great public spaces is an inspiration to urbanists, planners, and designers the world over.  The opening of The Hills represents the next great chapter in this story – and the addition of a beautiful, enriching new public resource for all New Yorkers," said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, FAICP.

During the Hills’ Opening Week, all weekday ferries are free for all visitors from July 19-July 22. 

On July 20 for one day only, Governors Island will be open from Sunrise to Sunset. The first ferry leaves for Governors Island at 5 AM and the last ferry returns at 9 PM. Visitors can come early to enjoy the 360 degree view from the Hills at Sunrise and Sunset and the entire day. 

The weekend of July 23-24, there will be expanded ferry service from Brooklyn. Ferries will run every half hour from Brooklyn beginning at 11 AM. Additional ferry service was made possible by Council Member Brad Lander.

"Governors Island is a jewel in the middle of New York Harbor," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. "This is one of the city’s most unique public spaces, and I’m thrilled that these extraordinary new landscapes are now a part of it."

"The opening of The Hills cements Governors Island's place as one of New York City's foremost attractions," said Congressman Jerry Nadler.  "I am proud to have played a role in bringing Governors Island back to the people of New York in 2003. Since that moment, this incredible green space has been transformed into an unparalleled destination for recreation and relaxation, and I look forward to seeing generations enjoy the latest feat of engineering and design in The Hills."

“Before the summer season at Governors Island slips away, come enjoy the debut of the Hills, including Slide Hill,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “Slide Hill will bring the city’s longest slide to our Harbor Park – a Central Park for the center of our city. I thank Leslie Koch, the Governors Island Trust, and my colleagues.”

"Governors Island is Lower Manhattan's backyard," said New York State Assembly Member Alice Cancel. "I look forward to many of my constituents getting an entirely new perspective on the Lower Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor from the top of Outlook Hill."

"Governors Island is just a quick seven minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan," said City Council Member Margaret S. Chin, who is also a Board Member of The Trust for Governors Island. "It is the perfect place to ride a bike, enjoy arts and culture and, now that this breathtaking new landscape is open to the public, climb a hill."

"Governors Island is truly a gem in New York Harbor," said Council Member Stephen Levin. "It is the newest example of how we are revitalizing our waterfront for recreational use."

“The Hills are another must-see destination to add to the fast growing list of reasons to visit Governors Island,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Brooklynites already love Governor’s Island, and the Hills are an incredible addition to this already wonderful public space. I hope everyone gets out to see them, which is one of many reasons I was pleased when we successfully increased ferry service between Brooklyn and Governors Island last summer. Thanks to the Trust for Governors Island for creating this beautiful new attraction – and bringing us some of the best views in NYC.”

"Governors Island is an important part of Lower Manhattan," said Community Board 1 Chair Anthony Notary, Jr. "The park on Governors Island provides acres of green spaces on which our residents can play ball, relax and as of today, enjoy unparalleled views."

"Ours is a city of water with hundreds of miles of shore lines," said Roland Lewis, president of the Waterfront Alliance. "Governors Island’s beautiful hills with the world's best view are new shiny jewels in our harbor's crown."

"New York is lucky to be home to some of the most extraordinary urban parks in the world," said Tupper Thomas, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. "Today is a wonderful day as ten new acres of extraordinary landscapes open on Governors Island for New Yorkers to enjoy."

"We are thrilled to join The Trust for Governors Island for the opening of the Hills," said Merritt Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island. “Our dedicated volunteers are excited and ready to put their skills to work at maintaining these extraordinary new landscapes.”

"The Hills give the Statue of Liberty back to the people of New York,” said Leslie Koch, president of The Trust for Governors Island. "The Statue is more relevant than ever in 2016 and we invite everyone to come and experience the Statue and the transformation of Governors Island."

Hills Opening Week Schedule:

July 19 – The Hills Open!

  • Ribbon cutting ceremony formally opens the Hills begins at 10:30 AM
  • At 11:30 AM, the Hills formally open to the public. Picnic Point and the entire 2.2 mile promenade also open to the public.

July 20 – Island Open Sunrise to Sunset

  • Ferries run once an hour from Manhattan beginning at 5 AM.
  • Last ferry returns from Governors Island to Manhattan at 9 PM
  • Ferries are free for all
  • Ferry schedule available online at

July 20-22

  • Island is open to the public for regular weekday hours, 10 AM to 6 PM
  • Ferries are free for all
  • Ferry schedule available online at

July 23-24

  • Island is open to the public for regular weekend hours, 10 AM to 7 PM
  • Ferries run at 10 AM, 11 AM and then every half hour from Manhattan
  • Expanded ferry service from Brooklyn with half hour ferry service beginning at 11 AM
  • Full ferry schedule is available online

Governors Island is open every day through September 25. Go to for operating hours, ferry schedules and programming for the public season.

Images of the Hills can be found Governors Island’s flickr stream:

About the Hills

The Hills are the crowning feature of the Governors Island Park and Public Space Plan, designed by landscape architecture firm, West 8. The four hills are:

  • Grassy Hill is a 25-foot high gentle grassy slope overlooking the Island’s new and historic landscapes and the Manhattan skyline.
  • Slide Hill, at 40 feet high, is the home of four slides, including the longest slide in New York City.
  • Discovery Hill, also 40 feet high, features a site-specific sculpture Cabin by the internationally recognized artist Rachel Whiteread.
  • Outlook Hill, 70 feet high, provides fully accessible paths and the Scramble, constructed out of granite seawall blocks, to reach the Outlook. Here, visitors have unforgettable views of the Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and the skylines of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Jersey City.

About the Governors Island Park
The Hills add ten acres to the park on Governors Island and are home to 41,000 new shrubs and more than 860 new trees. Opened to the public in 2014, the first 30 acres of park include Liggett Terrace, a six-acre plaza with seasonal plantings, seating, food concessions and a hedge maze; Hammock Grove, a sunny ten-acre space that is home to 1,500 new trees, play areas and 50 hammocks; and the Play Lawn, 14 acres for play and relaxation that includes two natural turf ball fields sized for adult softball and Little League baseball. In addition, new welcome areas have been added at the Island’s ferry landings, as have key visitor amenities, including lighting, seating and signage throughout the Historic District.

The park and public spaces were designed by West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture.

About The Trust for Governors Island
The Trust for Governors Island is the nonprofit corporation created by the City of New York that is responsible for the redevelopment and operation of 150 acres of Governors Island. The Trust's mission is to transform Governors Island into a vibrant resource for New York City, making this island at the center of New York Harbor a destination with extraordinary public open space, as well as educational, not-for-profit and commercial facilities.
For more information, visit

About West 8
West 8 is an award winning international office for urban design and landscape architecture, founded in 1987 with offices in Rotterdam, New York and Belgium. Over the last three decades
West 8 has established itself as a leading practice with an international team of 70 architects, urban designers, landscape architects and industrial engineers. West 8's New York office was established after winning an international design competition in 2007 for the design of the Governors Island Park. Today the office continues to work on high profile design projects across
North America.

Consultants on the Project
Associate Landscape Architect: Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects
Lead Civil Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Local Civil Engineer: AKRF
Geotechnical Engineer: Hart Crowser Inc.
Signage and Wayfinding: Pentagram
Lighting: Tillotson Design Associates
MEP Engineer: Dagher Associates
Soils Consultant: Pine and Swallow Environmental
Irrigation Consultants: Northern Designs
Code Consultants: Code Consulting Inc.
Cost Estimator: Faithful & Gould
Operations and Maintenance: ETM Associates
Surveyors of Record: Langan
Play Consultant: Teri Hendy, SiteMasters

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