Castle Williams

Castle Williams, New York City: Address, Castle Williams Reviews: 4/5

Castle Williams
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blackeldo
Kiama, Australia2,171 contributions
….A WORTH-WHILE CALL-IN WHEN DOING THE ISLAND AS A WHOLE.

I tell a lie – CASTLE WILLIAMS may indeed be a destination in itself for those wonks into MILITARY HISTORY/OLD JAILS/HISTORIC BUILDINGS yada. But face it, these dudes are way into their specialist web sites and won’t be looking at TRIPADVISOR for advice.
So for you ordinary visitors, I can say this area is well worth checking out on your big tour of the island.
I did it as a SELF-GUIDED TOUR although there were plenty of notices around that NATIONAL PARKS would guide tours at specific times. I simply padlocked my rental bicycle outside and proceeded to check the scene. No shortage of informative panels about the past – first as a defensive fort (the riverside position in the north-west of the island gives it a natural location to defend the approaches to both the EAST RIVER and particularly THE HUDSON), later as a jail/dorm area for troops/hospital.
One leaves a place like this (after 15 minutes top inside) with the thought: I’M SURE GLAD I WASN’T LOCKED UP HERE.

TIPS - check island operating times (online) - GOVERNORS ISLAND is only open in the high season going into Fall.
Written May 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

JunkMan024
Snyder Square, NY39 contributions
History and park day. I myself absolutely recommend bringing your bike on the free ferry. There are bike rentals on the island available also. Great raves of the cannons and views from the fort itself.
Written February 8, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Chuck Conn
New York City, NY13 contributions
Friends
Let's get one thing straight up front; Governors Island is probably the coolest place to hang outdoors in the city. That is if you like being outside (biking and mini-golf etc), and enjoy history as much as I do (nerd!). Castle Williams is a great example of the history this preserved urban time-capsule has to offer up. The fort was built between 1807 and 1812 to keep those pesky Britts from taking New York back, as war of 1812 was brewing (see I am a history nerd). The architecture was innovative; it was built to be round as opposed to a five pointed star (Fort Jay, the larger fortification on the island is a perfect example of a classic five pointed fort). What this meant was a full 360 degree view of the harbor, and a harder target to hit. They loaded the place up with 100+ cannons, and pointed them towards the mouth of the Hudson. This must have been one hell of a scary sight to any war ships, as none even tried to sail up the river.

Ok history class is over, what's this place like now a days? Well now it's all about the historical significance of the structure, but from the 60's to the 90's the Coast Guard was I'm charge. Aside from killer storage, they turned it into (I'm not kidding) the scariest haunted house in the world. Forgetting for a moment the flagrant waste of government money, this has to be the funniest thing I've ever heard. Can you imagine walking into a 200 year old fort, finding dry ice smoke creeping out of cells, and dudes with chainsaws trying to scare the crap out of each other? Awesome, I say bring this back as an event this year.

Castle Williams is an awesome place to visit, absolutely worth seeing while visiting the island. Make sure to get the guided tour, it's free and will get you access to the roof, where you'll find amazing views of the harbor and the city.
Written July 22, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Justin W
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ2,689 contributions
Solo
When you arrive on Governor's Island for the day and you start to walk around, don't miss out on the 45 minute tour of Castle Williams, one of the two historic forts on the island. It is a great tour that takes you through the whole building.

We got to see some of the old jail cells, solitary confinement cells and some of the rooms that were used as school rooms for children when they were still living on the island. The rangers take you all three floors of the Fort and give the history of the Fort Williams, the way it was built and its use during the American Revolution and the War of 1812 as well as a jail for the prisoners of the Civil War.

The best part is when you arrive at the roof for the end of the tour and you can see the views of Lower Manhattan and Jersey City. There is nothing like it. It is spectacular.

The tour runs three times a day and only for 45 minutes so it gives you plenty of time to see the rest of the island. Take your time walking around the old fort on your own.
Written September 2, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Chinapjs
Washington DC, DC3,785 contributions
Couples
Built in the early 1800's to protect New York. It did its job as the British didn't bother NYC during the War of 1812. Nice place to stroll around when on Governor's Island. Great view of the NYac skyline from up top too.
Written January 22, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Lee L
Valhalla, NY1,648 contributions
Friends
When you take the ferry out to Governor's Island be sure to take the Ranger tour of Castle Williams. It was built in the early 1800's to help defend NY harbor, It served as a barracks and prison during the Civil War and a military prison in the early part of the 20th century. Great views from the top of the NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty
Written September 25, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

UniversalTraversal
Oakville, Canada833 contributions
Friends
Governer's Island has yet to develop the reputation of a solid NYC attraction, but it's slowly gaining notice, with Castle Williams being only fairly recently open to the public. It has a fairly substantial history, having been used as a barracks in the US Civil War, a prison after than, then a coast guard facility after that. There isn't very much to see right now, but the tour guides make the tour worth it, and there are plans to add extra exhibitions once the building is restored. You can also get a good view of the Manhattan skyline on the roof.
Written August 11, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

R. B
Vinkeveen, The Netherlands586 contributions
Family
The Castle Williams on Governor's island could be very interesting, However there is not very much to see and do on a thursday morning in june. This could be managed so much better ...
Written June 18, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jonathan Chan
La Jolla, California, USA249 contributions
A really interesting spot to stop by while exploring the island - it showcases the military and government roles the island played during the growth of the City of New York.
Written September 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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