New York City Wants to Put a Climate Change ‘Laboratory’ on Governors Island

Governors Island, a 172-acre patch of land near southern Manhattan that is vaguely shaped like an ice cream cone, has been many things over time: An outpost of the Dutch West India Company, a Civil War prison for Confederate soldiers, a Coast Guard command center, and even a meeting place for President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev near the end of the Cold War.

Now, the city has a new idea: transforming one of its last big chunks of developable land — as much as 4.2 million square feet on the southern half of the island, which New York wants to rezone for commercial and educational use — into a “living laboratory” for coping with the effects of climate change.

The plan, which is still in its early stages, calls for making Governors Island “a major center for climate adaptation research, commercialization, conversation and policymaking,” according to a request for proposals that the city sent to contractors and that was reviewed by The New York Times. The document says the climate adaptation theme would be the “anchor” for the island’s development.