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Last modified: 2011-10-21 by rick wyatt
Keywords: new york | governors island |
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image by Richard Knipel
Governors Island is located in New York Harbor. Though basically never populated, it has served a disproportionate role in history. It was the site of the first Dutch settlement in the area, was the residence of the British governors (hence the name), and most significantly, for two centuries served as an important US army base. After the army left in 1966, the island served as a US Coast Guard base, the largest in the world, until 1997. To be sure, many flags have flown over this island.
In recent years, there has been a movement for the return of the island to the city for popular use, pioneered by late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In 2001, the 20 of the island's 172 acres surrounding historic Fort Jay and Castle Williams (0.08/0.70 km) were declared a National Monument. And on April 1 2002, President Bush sold Governors Island to the city for $1, a better price even than the Dutch had paid the local Indians in 1637.
To mark the event, the Governors Island Alliance, a coalition of 55 civic groups supporting popular use of the island, launched a celebratory thousand-boat flotilla into New York harbor on June 2nd of that year. These made good use of a 'Governors Island Flag', apparently the brainchild of strategy marketing firm 'LevelM'. This is modeled on the American flag, with the whole hoist side blue with a white silhouette of the island and the fly side with the thirteen red and white stripes.
Here is the highlight of the June 2, 2002 event (taken from: www.reclaimgovernorsisland.org/Program%20Schedule.htm):
"11:45AM Governors Island Flag is carried from central stage on Battery Park Esplanade to a small row boat tied up adjacent to the stage, and the Flag is handed over to bearer dressed in Revolutionary uniform. The Flag is then rowed through the assembled fleet towards Governors Island, accompanied by a New York Waterway vessel carrying dignitaries. At approximately 11:55AM, as the small boat approaches Governors Island, the Flag is planted or raised to salute the National Monument and symbolically reclaim the Island for the People. The rest of the Flotilla celebrates with sirens, canon and whatever makes noise."
According to www.reclaimgovernorsisland.org/more%20boats.htm, the "Golf" signal flag (6 vertical stripes alternating blue and yellow) was used to signal the launch of the flotilla. All participating boats carried Governor's Island flags, except kayaks, the kayakers wearing 'distinctive headgear' instead. And, according to LevelM, at least some New York Harbor boats, "still proudly fly the Governors Island flag."
Richard Knipel, 6 August 2004
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