Experiencing the Civil War in New York City

After experiencing the sights, sounds, and tastes of Taiwan, we wanted to see what New York could offer us, for free.

The New York City region is comprised of many islands, including the former military base Governors Island. Now owned by the National Park Service and by the city itself, Governors Island is quiet, bucolic, and, best of all, mostly free. The ferry from Manhattan or Brooklyn is free, as are the many events throughout the day. There’s also free kayaking, albeit in a small, enclosed area. Bike rentals are free as well, if you go on Fridays.

This weekend the island is hosting a Civil War reenactment. Costumed individuals recreate the setting of a Union army camp, complete with artillery and cannon firing. All the soldiers, washerwomen, and other “actors” are volunteers. Spending a weekend in the Civil War is their hobby. As one lieutenant said, “It’s like a vacation, an escape from modern life.”

We, the visitors to Governors Island, could also use a break from the hectic pace of life. On the opposite shore stand the austere skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan, reminding us of work and human progress. But it all seems deathly silent compared to the lively flow of bicycles, strollers, and human feet here on Governors Island.


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