On August 1 Karen and I made a triumphal (okay, maybe it wasn’t triumphal) return to Governors Island, this time with the kids in tow. Unfortunately, we were not able to take Puffin, so we joined the huddled masses on the ferry from the Battery Maritime Building, all yearning to breathe free on the lawns and promenade of the island.
In 1809 Washington Irving, in A History of New-York, from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty; Containing, among Many Surprising and Curious Matters, the Unutterable Ponderings of Walter the Doubter, the Disastrous Projects of William the Testy, and the Chivalric Achievements of Peter the Headstrong—The Three Dutch Governors of New Amsterdam: Being the Only Authentic History of the Times that Ever Hath Been or Ever Will Be Published, bemoaned the fact that Governors Island, “once a smiling garden . . . was now covered with fortifications” so that it “resembled a fierce little warrior in a big cocked hat, breathing gunpowder and defiance to the world!”
I’m happy to report that, although the fortifications remain, the gunpowder and defiance seem to be gone.
The island is aswarm with peaceful New Yorkers and visitors who roam everywhere by foot, bike, scooter, and other human-powered wheeled transport. In fact, it was the bicycles that lured us to Governors Island this time. We were hoping to rent one of Bike and Roll‘s quadcycles, but we were much too late, and there weren’t any available. Instead, we each got a bicycle—mountain bikes for the kids, and fancy, orange Dutch bikes for Karen and me.
Riding the complete perimeter of the island is easy due to the lack of hills and the lovely breezes off the water.
There are plenty of places to stop and lots of grass to rest on. If you go on Fridays, you can get a bike for an hour for free, and Bike and Roll has just added 50 more bicycles to its fleet. (Here’s a question, though: How come they get to charge for the orange bikes? They were donated to New York City by the Dutch government.)
At any rate, it was another thoroughly enjoyable afternoon on Governors Island. Next time we’ll bring our own bikes, though.