Abandoned Military Base Now Provides Stunning Views of New York Harbor

Governor's Island, New York Harbor

The Hills are a newly designed 10-acre park rising 25- to 70-feet above Governors Island, a 172-acre island in the heart of New York Harbor, 800 yards from Lower Manhattan and 400 yards from Brooklyn. The Hills offer a 360-degree panoramic experience of the harbor and mark a major milestone in the transformation of Governors Island from an abandoned military base into an iconic destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

The Hills offer a 360-degree panoramic experience of the harbor. PHOTO: Timothy Schenck

The Hills offer a 360-degree panoramic experience of the harbor. PHOTO: Timothy Schenck

“Our Hills are the culmination of an eight-year collaboration with West 8 urban design & landscape architecture [New York] and the many New Yorkers and visitors who contributed ideas to this ambitious project,” says Leslie Koch, president of the Trust for Governors Island. “The Hills are a triumph of imagination, state-of-the-art engineering and smart design that will ensure access to beautiful green space, the waterfront and incomparable views of the harbor for years to come.”

The four hills are constructed of recycled demolition debris, general fill and lightweight pumice, stabilized with geotechnical reinforcement and covered with shrubs, trees and grassy lawns. Although the Hills provide striking vistas and comfortable settings for relaxation and play, they also improve the island’s resilience against increasingly dramatic weather patterns and rising sea levels.

The Hills are home to more than 860 new trees and 41,000 new shrubs planted in new high-quality topsoil and protected from brackish groundwater by the new topography. The planting of each of the four hills is designed according to the micro-climates: varying degrees of slopes, exposure to sun, salty spray and prevailing wind, as well as to accentuate key view corridors. The new lawns, plantings and permeable paving also reduce erosion and storm run-off while allowing for water collection and irrigation

AERIAL PHOTO: Iwan Baan

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