A teardrop-shaped island in NY Harbor due for a makeover

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It's a priceless piece of real estate largely unknown to New York's 8 million inhabitants. From its shore, visitors can see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Situated in the middle of New York Harbor, just a half mile from lower Manhattan, Governors Island is about to undergo an extensive makeover that would turn much of it into lush parkland.

A consortium of five design companies was chosen in December to transform the teardrop-shaped island, turning the flat southern end into a park with manmade hills and a shoreline promenade.

Improvements also are in store for the northern half, a historic district with graceful 18th and 19th century houses, a defunct 9-hole golf course and a former Army parade ground.

Sold by its original Dutch settlers to the British in 1708, the 172-acre island later became an American military base for 202 years — home to soldiers, Confederate prisoners of war and the Coast Guard, yet off limits to civilians.

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