This 173 acre island is at the mouth of the East River. It was called Nutton or Nooton Island by the Dutch. In 1638 the rents for the island were reserved for the governor and so it became Governors Island. Fortifications were first erected on the island in 1794. The first fort was called Fort Columbus and it was in the shape of a five pointed star. The second fort was Castle William built in 1811. This fort was circular and had an 8 foot wall. In 1807 when the British made an attack on New York Harbor, an attempt was made from Fort William to repel the attack. In the 19th century the fort became known as the cheese box. During the civil war, Fort Williams became a prison for 1500 confederate prisoners. In 1863 draft rioters attempted to free the prisoners but were unsuccessful.
Then it became Fort Jay and was the headquarters for the First Army Command. In recent years the island has been under the jurisdiction of the United Stated Coast Guard. In 1996 the government proposed selling the island as a cost cutting measure.
The sale was to take place in 1998 but there have been no news reports that it has taken place. The island was reported to be worth half a billion dollars. The Indians sold it to the Dutch for two ax heads, a string of beads, and some nails.