Sunday, July 18, 2010

Governor's Island

Today was the perfect day to visit Governor's Island in NY harbor. About 15 years ago I spent some of my drill days as a Naval Reserve officer there. My Intelligence unit was stationed out at Floyd Bennett Field in farthest Brooklyn but every weekend one lucky junior officer got to spend a day riding around NY harbor with the Coasties. We were given a camera and told to photograph ships. More than that I would swallow a pill before revealing. People always assume that the government knows everything because they see on TV that all some sassy clerk has to do is push a button and the great electronic brain spits out the answer. The reality is that the system only knows what is fed into it. That often means whatever some reservist someplace took a photo of or what some clerk scribbled on a form. The Coasties or Knee Deeps were terrific to work with. Here are two photos from the Brooklyn side looking North, towards the Brooklyn Bridge which is to the left beyond the cranes, and to the South towards the Verazanno Narrows.

The Island had been transferred from the Army, who had it since the British left over 180 years earlier, to the Coast Guard in 1966. My father spent a short time there during WW-II. Interesting people were stationed, born there or grew up the island, look it up. The Coast Guard clearly expected to stay there for ever, because it made sense, and they were still building during the 1990s. Bill Clinton had other plans and on very short notice the Coast Guard got kicked out. Patrick Moynihan made sure that the Island could not fall into the hands of Donald Trump, who had Chinese money waiting to move in, and he wrote the transfer law to prevent any residential or most for profit activity. Given that we were attacked only five years after the armed forces were evicted from NY and only a couple of thousand yards away, someone might have rethought the wisdom of that policy. Here are two photos, one of lower Manhattan from the Island and another of the Senior Officers housing "Colonels Row" that now hosts art exhibitions.

Fortunately when the barbarians attacked they missed the Lady. She still guards the harbor.

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