Over the years, the island has served as the backdrop for a number of historic events. In 1986, it was the setting for the relighting of the newly refurbished Statue of Liberty by President Ronald Reagan. In 1988, President Reagan hosted a U.S.-U.S.S.R. summit with Mikhail Gorbachev on Governors Island, and in 1993 the U.N. sponsored talks on the island to help restore democratic rule in Haiti. In 1995, the Coast Guard closed its facilities on Governors Island and, as of September 1996, all residential personnel were relocated. President Clinton designated 22 acres of the Island, including the two great forts, as the Governors Island National Monument in January 2001, and on April 1, 2002, President George W. Bush, Governor Pataki, and Mayor Bloomberg announced that the United States of America would sell Governors Island to the people of New York for a nominal cost, and that the Island would be used for public benefit.
Visitors can take guided walking tours, interact with living history characters, and rent bicycles to explore the island’s scenic views. A 10-minute ferry ride leaves from the Battery Maritime Building every hour.