Manhattan Isle: Roosevelt Island

Manhattan Isle: Roosevelt Island

The Roosevelt Island is one of the islands in the New York City’s East River. It is a narrow island compared to all other islands of the river. It lies in between the island of Manhattan to its west and the borough of Queens to its right. Unlike Manhattan it is not very densely populated. It belongs to the City of New York but is very different from the busy and fast life of the city. Even being part of the most densely populated and world’s biggest metropolitan city, it is very different from New York and is a whole new different world in itself. It is a planned neighbourhood of the city which lies on the small island and is no bigger than a football field. It was bought by the New York City in 1828. Many hospitals, mental asylums and health care centres had been built here. It has been named and then renamed several times in history. It was once known as Blackwell’s Island after the farming family who lived there. It was also once called Welfare Island, Varkens Eylandt and Minnehanonck. The New York State decided to lay a plan to build a housing of 10,000 people in 1970s along Roosevelt Island’s main street which is probably the only street on the island. Most of the residential buildings on the island are rental buildings. There are also some commercial buildings and many others are soon growing towards privatization. The planned area along the roadway resembles an Olympic Village or cookie cutter college housing.


Roosevelt Island is part of the Manhattan which has long been lost under the shadow of the Erector-Set Queensboro bridge in new York’s east river. It has long been the home of insane prisoners, mental patients and UN workers. But now it is known for its beauty and also its uniqueness. Every New Yorker should once visit the Island through its whole length, from the Four Freedoms Park on the south end to the lighthouse at the north end. It is amazing that you will always remain in the sight of the river. The island was believed to be haunted by a lot of people once but it had developed a lot since the past 15 years. The scenic beauty of Manhattan and Queens along the perimeter of the river is breath taking. Despite the creepiness of the asylums and prisons, you will certainly like the place. There are not many restaurants and clubs here but you will certainly enjoy sitting along the river on a fine day. The best time to visit the island is during the summers.


The best part of the island is sky tram to get there. You can take a trip of the sky trams using your metro card. The trams are super clean, always on time and the staff is friendly. People usually take the tram to witness the great view it has to offer of the city beneath. The ride takes you along the Queensboro bridge to the Roosevelt Island and lets you admire the city from a small distance. Alternately, if you are afraid of heights, you can use the F train to get to the island which is one of the deepest subway stations in the New York City.


Once you are in the island, you may visit the South Point Park located in the southernmost tip of the Roosevelt Island. It is very peaceful and quiet place with lush green surroundings. It has two historic landmark buildings of Small Pox Hospital and the Strecker Memorial Laboratory that was built as the nation’s first centre for study of pathology. If you want to go for a run, have a walk or just sit, relax and read a book then this is the perfect place for you. You can enjoy all this with the view of the grandiose Manhattan Skyline. The park is never overcrowded.  Another attraction of the island is the North Point Lighthouse and it is totally worth hitting both the points of the island. It is a tall 50 feet high lighthouse. It is surrounded by a lighthouse park which is a famous picnic spot. You could just spread out your blanket and relax through the whole day. It was built to navigate the boats and is probably the smallest lighthouse you will come across. It was restored in 1998 and is now a tourist attraction. Going one block south of the lighthouse, you will find another place worth visiting known as Octagon. It was once a mental asylum but had now fallen due to years of neglect. It is currently a lobby of 500 unit apartment building and also has a rotating art exhibit. The place was reopened in 2006 as a residential community but tourists could still enter the building to see its original state and its flying staircase. There is also an adjoining gallery but photos are prohibited.


Roosevelt Island is kind of a weird place but its weirdness is what attracts attention. But it is only a nice place to visit rather than to live as it is difficult to have basic business amenities at this place. There is very limited number of stores here. People do only 12% of their shopping from this place. There is just one grocery store, one library, one bar and one starbucks.


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