The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby, I became aware of the old island here

Could you please tell me the meaning of "became aware here" in the following excerpt from the last page of The Great Gatsby?

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams

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Nick reflected on it. I think it entails becoming conscious of it and even imagining what it might have looked like.

Nick is thinking about a time when East Egg was pure. It was the old island where giant trees stood instead of giant mansions like Gatsby's house.

Ok, but what is the meaning of "became aware"? to become conscious? to imagine to see? to see?