The Hills on Governors Island Officially Open to the Public

07/2016 | Newsletter | West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture

On July 19, 2016 The de Blasio Administration, Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and the Trust for Governors Island announced The Hills on Governors Island are open to the public July 19, adding 10 new acres of public space for the City of New York. Following a ribbon cutting ceremony, New Yorkers and visitors eagerly explored the Hills and their new landscapes, public art, play areas, slides, and extraordinary 360 degree views of the New York Harbor, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey skylines, and the Statue of Liberty. Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, elected officials, community leaders and the public attended the ceremony. (To see more images of the ceremony click here)

Designed by West 8 urban design & landscape architecture, the Hills are the culmination of the award-winning Governors Island Park and Public Space Master Plan, and Phase 1 of the Park and Public Space project. Rising 25 to 70 feet (8-21 meters) above the Island the Hills offer an extraordinary 360-degree panoramic experience of the NY Harbor.

The opening of the Hills marks a major milestone in the transformation of Governors Island from an abandoned military base into an iconic destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Over the past 13 years, Governors Island has been transformed from a relic few New Yorkers knew about and even fewer visited into one of the most popular parks in our city - or any city,” said Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "The Hills are an extraordinary addition to the island that will inspire New Yorkers and visitors for many generations to come - and they are a powerful testament to what can happen when public servants, architects and artists, and generous supporters all work together to bring a common vision to life.”

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

“Sculpted topography works in concert with winding pathways and trees to create ‘conceal and reveal’ vistas, choreographing the park experience,” said West 8's Design Director Adriaan Geuze. “It maximizes the sense of anticipation, pulling a visitor through the park or signaling a place to sit and stay just a bit longer. The topography defines the very character of the area.”

As previously announced, the Hills are opening nearly a year ahead of schedule. The four Hills embody all that makes Governors Island unique:art, play, nature, relaxation, and views:
Grassy Hill is a 26-foot high gentle, grassy slope overlooking the Island’s new and historic landscapes and the Manhattan skyline;
Slide Hill, at 36 feet high, is the home of four slides, including the longest slide in New York City;
• Discovery Hill, also 39 feet high, features a site-specific sculpture Cabin by the internationally recognized British artist Rachel Whiteread and first major permanent public commission in the U.S.; and,
• Outlook Hill provides universally accessible paths and the Scramble, constructed out of reclaimed granite seawall blocks, to reach the Outlook. Here, 70 feet above the Island, visitors have unforgettable views of the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and the skylines of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Jersey City.

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 and 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.

“Our Hills are the culmination of an eight-year collaboration with West 8 and the many New Yorkers and visitors who contributed ideas to this ambitious project,” said Leslie Koch, President of the Trust. “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 completion of the Hills has received widespread media acclaim including features in the New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Wallpaper, The New Yorker, The Guardian and Wired, among others.

The Hills are open for the summer season daily from July 19 – September 25, 2016, Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-7pm. For more information, visit

more information: The Hills on Governors Island Officially Open to the Public

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