Near this location on December 7, 1988, President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met for the last time on Governor's Island in New York. The Cold War was close to its end and the two world leaders had recently completed one of their most successful summits regarding nuclear disarmament. The meeting occurred just prior to the term of President George H.W. Bush and was kept secret for 20 years. Documents related to the meeting show that President-elect George H. W. Bush, who also attended the meeting, asked for more time to consider Gorbachev's plan for a rapid path towards a substantial reduction in nuclear weapons. Following this covert meeting at Governor's Island, Gorbachev delivered a speech to the United Nations in which he announced dramatic cuts for arms spending.


  • On Dec 7, 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev met with Ronald Reagan and incoming President George H. W. Bush on Governor's Island.
    On Dec 7, 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev met with Ronald Reagan and incoming President George H. W. Bush on Governor's Island.
  • A memo to Gorbachev prompted the meeting between the three before his speech to the UN.
    A memo to Gorbachev prompted the meeting between the three before his speech to the UN.

On Govenor's Island in New York Gorbachev and Reagan met for the last time. This was just a month after George H.W. Bush was voted to be the next president. Gorbachev later on the same trip would deliver his famous speech to reduce arms against the other countries of the UN. The speech would alter the outcome of the Cold War and furthered concession between the countries. Gorbachev made many concessions including the goal of disbanding forces in East Germany by 1991 and the reduction of missiles. 
The meeting was mainly to ease the Bush administration's growing fears over Gorbachev's plans. The Reagan administration was already convinced. Bush believed, however, that the Cold War wasn't quite over but the meeting helped ease tensions between the newly founded friendship. Bush would not meet again with Gorbachev until 1989 after the Berlin Wall was torn down and most of the Cold War was over. 
Strangely although the meeting was fairly covert, a photo op was in store for the press on the island and a snapshot of the three meeting over the water was taken. The three then met for lunch in the Commander's House on the Island.

Reagan, Gorbachev and Bush at Governor's Island, National Security Archive, George Washington University. Edited by Dr. Svetlana Savranskaya and Thomas Blanton, http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB261/, December 8, 2008