Governors Island boasts a long military history and has played an important role in every major American military engagement since the Revolutionary War, including the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Gulf War. First settled by the Dutch in 1624, the Island became a permanent US Army facility after 1800, and more recently, the Atlantic Area headquarters of the US Coast Guard.
Original Lenape Indian residents may have called the Island "Pagganack," a name that refers to the abundance of nut trees. The subsequent Dutch occupants called the Island "Nooten Eyland," their translation of Pagganack. In the late 1700s, Britain designated Governors Island as belonging to "His Majesty's Governors," thus generating the name "Governors Island," which it retains to this day.
Governors Island Timeline
? · 1524: Giovanni da Verazzano sights Governors Island
? · 1624: The Island is the first place settled by the Dutch West India Company in New York Harbor. They erect a sawmill and the timber is used in the building of New Amsterdam.
? · 1698: The British officially acquire the Island.
? · 1776: Continental troops under George Washington occupy and fortify the Island. Later that year, the Island and New York City fall to the British.
? · 1783: The British Royal Navy surrenders the Island to Governor George Clinton of New York State.
? · 1794: Using volunteers from Columbia College (now Columbia University), a new fort is constructed on the Island.
1833: The Ordnance Department of the Army establishes a major arsenal on the Island.
? · 1901-1912: 4,787,000 cubic yards of fill from the Lexington Avenue Subway are used to enlarge the Island from 69 to 172 acres at a cost of $1.1 million.
? · 1909: Wilbur Wright takes off from the Island, successfully making the first flight over American waters.
? · 1914-1918: Island is a major supply base and embarkation point for troops engaged in WWI
? · 1939-1945: Island plays a role as a WWII administration center and chief reception center for inductees.
? · 1966: Governors Island is transferred from the Army to the Coast Guard.
? · 1996: Coast Guard leaves Governors Island.
? · 2002: President George W. Bush, Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announce that the federal government will sell the Island back to the people of New York for $1.
? · 2003: George W. Bush creates the Governors Island National Monument comprising 22 acres owned and operated by the National Park Service.
? · 2003: Governors Island is transferred from the Federal Government to the people of New York through the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC).