Governors Island in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Flight on Governors Island
The new Governors Island landfill was only just complete – a largely empty dust blown expanse of over 100 acres – when it gained fame for its role in the budding aviation industry. In 1909, the Hudson-Fulton Celebration took place to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage up the Hudson River. It also celebrated the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s innovative paddle wheel steamer which traveled from New York City to Albany, ushering in the era of steamship travel. A series of demonstration flights were planned as part of the celebration. Wilbur Wright was paid to make a number of flights and was promised a $15,000 prize for a flight of over ten miles. Wright flew from Governors Island around the Statue of Liberty and back. The flight, though not long enough to win the prize, is considered the first successful flight over water in America. Days later, Wright succeeded in flying over ten miles from the Island up the Hudson, around Grant’s Tomb and back.
During World War I, the Island’s use in flight diminished. The flat expanse of the south island was filled with support structures for the war effort,
In the 1920s, New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia advocated the use of this open, flat land as a municipal airport. A heated conflict emerged as the Army held fast to its original vision of an expanded army post, and stalled the idea of the airport. Ongoing debates continued for two decades, until progress in the aviation industry rendered the site inadequate. Instead, a new city airport, La Guardia, was opened in Queens in 1939.
The monument erected here honors the pioneers of solo flight, nicknamed “The Early Birds,” including the Wright Brothers, Glen Curtiss and Ruth Law. Dedicated in 1954, the monument features a bronze cast of the propeller from Wilbur Wright’s first military flight in 1909.
Location. 40° 41.351′ N, 74° 1.171′ W. Marker is in Governors Island, New York, in New York County. Marker is on Division Road, on the left when traveling east. Marker is located on Governors Island. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10004, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Early Birds (here, next to this marker); Liggett Hall (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Clayton Road Division Road (about 400 feet away); Slate Roofs on Colonels Row (about 500 feet away); Polo on Governors Island (about 500 feet away); Purchase of Governors Island Monument (about 500 feet away); Reagan-Gorbachev Meeting 1988 (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Governors Island.
More about this marker. Two photos appear on the right side of the marker. One shows “Wilbur Wright at flight shed in 1909.” And the other depicts “Orville, Wilbur and Charles Taylor examin[ing] the Wright airplane with a canoe attached, while military personnel look on.”
Also see . . . Governors Island National Monument. National Park Service website. (Submitted on September 13, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
Additional keywords. Glenn Curtiss Glenn H. Curtiss Glenn Hammond Curtiss
Categories. • Air & Space •
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 13, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 457 times since then and 16 times this year. Last updated on October 28, 2013, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 13, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.