Metropolitan Digital

  • Written by Christopher Heywood

The Hills on Governors Island open to the public on July 19, kicking off several days of special opportunities to see the Hills, the culmination of the Island's transformation, The Trust for Governors Island today announced. A public ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 10:30 AM on Tuesday, July 19. The next day, for one day only, on July 20, Governors Island will be open from Sunrise to Sunset. Come early or stay late to enjoy extraordinary sunrise and sunset views of the Statue of Liberty, the boats and bridges of the Harbor and the Manhattan, Brooklyn and Jersey skylines. There is no better place in New York City to experience Sunrise and Sunset as you can from the Governors Island Hills. Weekday ferries will be free to all from July 20-22.

On July 19, following the ribbon cutting ceremony, the Hills will be fully open for visitors to enjoy. Picnic Point and the entire 2.2 mile promenade will also re-open to the public at that time. This is the first time the entire promenade and Picnic Point have been open since 2012, when construction on the Governors Island park and seawall began. Boats will begin running at 9AM to permit New Yorkers to attend the Hills ceremony.

On July 20, the Sunrise to Sunset celebration begins with the first boat at 5AM to Governors Island and the last boat returning to Manhattan at 9 PM. The sun is scheduled to rise at 5:42 AM and to set at 8:22 PM on July 20, 2016. All ferries will be free on Wednesday July 20, as well as Thursday July 21 and Friday July 22, when the Island is open normal weekday hours.

On the first weekend to enjoy the Hills, July 23-24, ferry service from Brooklyn will be expanded thanks to support from Council Member Brad Lander. Ferries will run every half hour from Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park, starting at 11 AM. As always, weekend morning ferries from both Manhattan and Brooklyn are free to all.

“We are thrilled to open the Hills, an exciting new landmark for New York City,” said Ronay Menschel, chair of the Trust for Governors Island Board of Directors. “We invite all New Yorkers to join us on July 19th for the ribbon cutting ceremony and to commemorate this important milestone in the transformation of Governors Island."

“The Hills give New Yorkers a new perspective on our city and harbor,” said Leslie Koch, president of the Trust for Governors Island. “The Sunrise to Sunset celebration is a unique opportunity to experience a view we have never seen before.”

Special hours and free ferries are not the only exciting part of the Hills' opening week. In honor of the Hills opening, Governors Island vendor Blue Marble Ice Cream has created a special ice cream flavor.

Teaming up with fellow Brooklyn business The Good Batch, the new Blue Marble flavor “The Governor” is made with vanilla ice cream and vanilla cake crumble, brown sugar Grape-Nut clusters and a smooth caramel sauce. The addition of cake crumble and the Grape Nuts for The Governor flavor was inspired by the Hills' unique method of construction. The Hills are built out of debris from the demolition of more than four dozen derelict buildings and more than 2000 parking spaces on the Island, as well as new fill barged to the Island. The Blue Marble Ice Cream trike will be located at the base of the Hills for opening week.

“The Hills' opening on Governors Island begins a new and exciting chapter,” said Merritt Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island. “We look forward to celebrating this historic moment with The Trust for Governors Island.”

Prior to the Hills opening, there will be a final hard hat tour of the site. The last public tour will be held on City of Water Day, Saturday, July 16 at 11 AM. This tour, like all construction tours on Governors Island is free and first-come, first-served.

Hills Opening Week Schedule:

July 19 – The Hills Open!

  • Ferry service from Manhattan to Governors Island begins at 9 AM. Ferries run at 9 AM, 9:30 AM, 10 AM and then every hour from 11 AM to 6 PM.
  • Ribbon cutting ceremony to formally open the Hills begins at 10:30 AM, open to the public

At 11:30 AM, the Hills 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, 5 AM – 9 PM \
  • Ferries run once an hour from Manhattan beginning at 5 AM. Sunrise is at 5:42 AM
  • Sunset is at 8:22 PM. Last ferry returns from Governors Island to Manhattan at 9 PM
  • Ferries are free for all
  • July 20 schedule is available online at

July 21-22

  • Island is open to the public for regular weekday hours, 10 AM to 6 PM
  • Ferries are free for all 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
  • Ferries are free before noon as they are each weekend Governors Island is open every day through September 25.

Go to for operating hours, ferry schedules and programming for the public season.

About the Hills

The Hills are the culmination 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, 57 feet in length.
  • 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 play fountains 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 4 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

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