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PR- 404-08
October 10, 2008


Demolition Will Make Southern Portion of Governors Island Publicly Accessible for First Time

This Weekend Marks Last Opportunity to Enjoy The New York City Waterfalls, Free Bicycle Rides and Tours of Governors Island

Governors Island to End 2008 Season Having Attracted a Record 125,000 Visitors

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber and Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC) President Leslie Koch today initiated the demolition of Liberty Village, a cluster of 10 buildings on the island’s southern end not built to City building code standards. The demolition of the three-story buildings, built in 1988 as housing for the Coast Guard, will provide access to half of the island never before open to the public, creating more than eight acres of new open space that will be available to New Yorkers next summer. In addition, the demolition will open up the island’s entire 2.2-mile waterfront promenade for walking and biking. The new amenities will enhance the island as a destination for New Yorkers, after a record number of visitors this year. By the end of this weekend, more than 125,000 people will have come to the Island, twice the number of visitors last year and more than five times the number in 2006.

“From the South Bronx Greenway to Fresh Kills Park in Staten Island, we’re working to revitalize the City’s waterfront in all five boroughs – and open it up to the public,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “But perhaps no place offers the unique setting or more spectacular views than Governors Island. Next year, we’ll open up the southern end of the island and create eight new acres of open space where New Yorkers will be able to picnic and play in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Meanwhile, design is underway for the future park that will transform Governors Island into one of the great destinations of the world. For the past four months, Governors Island has been home to one of the New York City Waterfalls, one of the reasons the island attracted more visitors than ever before. This is the last weekend for viewing the Waterfalls, which are here thanks to Olafur Eliasson and the Public Art fund, and I hope New Yorkers have an opportunity to enjoy them one last time on what will be a beautiful fall weekend.”

“The developments on Governors Island are a great example of New York City and New York State working together to important economic development projects,” said Deputy Mayor Lieber. “Governors Island, together with Brooklyn Bridge Park, the East River Waterfront and Hudson River Park, is part of a new and expanding Harbor District area and an important part of our efforts to open our City’s waterfront and provide recreational opportunities for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.”

The eight acres of open space that will be created after the demolition of Liberty Village represents one part of the open space development underway on Governors Island. Ultimately, the island will offer a total of 90 acres of publicly accessible open space. Last December, the City and State announced the selection of internationally renowned design firms West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Quennell Rothschild / Urban Design + to design three new open spaces comprising the 90 acres: a two mile Great Promenade along the water's edge; a new major park located on the southern half of the island; and an improved park design within the northern Historic District. The Great Promenade and forty-acre park will provide places to relax, play sports and explore, all with a unique view of the Statue of Liberty. In the National Historic District, visitors can continue to enjoy acres of green space that include buildings and homes dating from 1810.

The design process of these open spaces began earlier this fall, with extensive and ongoing opportunities for public input, including a new blog, a survey, facilitated workshops and an exhibition on Governors Island. All ideas will be shared with the design team as they craft the park master plan that will be unveiled in the spring of 2009.

“This year has been the most successful yet on Governors Island,” said GIPEC Chair Avi Schick. “We are proud that such important milestones have been achieved – from welcoming more visitors than ever to clearing non-historic buildings to help open the southern portion of the island to the public.”

“We are grateful for the support and leadership of New York State and New York City,” said GIPEC President Leslie Koch. “By beginning demolition on Liberty Village today, we are taking critical steps to open the southern portion of the Island to the public and provide many more visitors with opportunities in 2009.”

The demolition today is the latest in a series of milestones for Governors Island. Since this summer, construction began this summer on the building that will house the Island’s first tenant, the New York Harbor School. The school is scheduled to open in 2010. Two additional requests for proposals have been issued for artist studio space and a temporary dining and entertainment venue. These tenants will be in place by the spring of 2009.

In 2003, the federal government transferred control of Governors Island to New York City and New York State. GIPEC, a partnership of the City and State, is responsible for the planning, redevelopment, and ongoing operations for the island’s 150 acres. GIPEC seeks to bring Governors Island back to life, transforming it into a destination with great public open space, as well as future education, not for profit and commercial facilities, all in the center of New York Harbor. For more information visit .

This Weekend is Last Chance to Enjoy The New York City Waterfalls

Governors Island is open through October 12th, making this weekend the last opportunity for visitors to come to the island for car-free biking, picnic, kayak, play mini golf and enjoy exhibitions and tours. This is also the last opportunity for visitors to see Olafur Eliasson’s The New York City Waterfalls, commissioned by Public Art Fund. This weekend and on Monday, the final day of the installation, The Waterfalls, will operate from 12:30 PM through 9 PM. The four man-made waterfalls, lit after sunset, are on the shores of the New York waterfront: one on the Brooklyn anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge; one on the Brooklyn Piers, between Piers 4 and 5 near the Brooklyn Heights Promenade; one in Lower Manhattan at Pier 35 north of the Manhattan Bridge; and one on the north shore of Governors Island.

“This weekend is a wonderful opportunity to be outdoors and see Olafur Eliasson’s extraordinary work of public art” said Susan K. Freedman, President of the Public Art Fund. “Through Monday evening, by coming to the waterfront and going out on the harbor, we have one last chance to experience this remarkable artist’s monumental work of art. For over 30 years, the Public Art Fund has been presenting temporary exhibitions of public art in New York City’s public spaces.  By commissioning Olafur Eliasson’s The New York City Waterfalls, we are redefining public art as a vital force in the city and encouraging people to stop and look at their surroundings in a whole new way.”

Visitors can experience the Waterfalls from various vantage points and also by bike or by boat. Circle Line Downtown, the official water tour operator of The New York City Waterfalls, offers boat tours to view the Waterfalls through Monday.

The always free Governors Island and Staten Island Ferries also provide views of the Waterfalls on Governors Island and at the Brooklyn Piers. The Staten Island Ferry runs daily, and the seven-minute Governor’s Island Ferry is running this weekend. A map of suggested vantage points, the boat schedule, suggested bike routes and downloadable podcasts are available on


Stu Loeser/Andrew Brent (Mayor)   (212) 788-2958

Elizabeth Rapuano (GIPEC)   (212) 440-2205

Stacy Bolton (Public Art Fund)   (212) 721-5350

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