Roosevelt Island NY, a narrow island located in the East River in New York City , is a relatively unknown NYC locale to non-locals. But Roosevelt Island has a history so interesting, and a “ride” so worth taking, that these aspects make it a destination that is worth a slice of your time in New York .
Formerly known as Welfare Island, this strip of land (which runs just east of E 46th through E 85th Streets of Manhattan) has had a bit of a checkered history. Located directly under the Queensboro Bridge that connects Manhattan to Queens , Roosevelt Island was originally purchased from natives by the Dutch, who immediately named it Hogs’ Island. New York Roosevelt Island has traditionally been something of a place one is exiled to, as it has been the home of various asylums, correctional facilities, almshouses, and mental hospitals.
The Octagon, a famous Roosevelt Island asylum, was the subject of a scathing 1887 page 1 exposé in the New York World by Nellie Bly, who feigned madness in order to investigate the facility and the treatment of its residents. Charles Dickens also made known a few of the Octagon’s low points after he made his own visit to Roosevelt Island.
Symbolic of Roosevelt Island’s turnaround in recent history, “The Octagon” is now the name of a luxury apartment complex on New York Roosevelt Island. Now a thriving residential community of over ten thousand people, Roosevelt Island is not a place for those worthy of banishment, but an exciting place to voluntarily live; a sort of small island town within Midtown Manhattan.
Renamed Roosevelt Island in 1973, Roosevelt Island NY was the planned site of a major FDR memorial, which has never been built. However, the strip of land is the home to many of the world’s ambassadors, because of its proximity to the United Nations Headquarters in East Manhattan.
The aforementioned “ride” is none other than the Roosevelt Island Tram. If you plan to visit Roosevelt Island NY, plan on skipping the convenience of the subway and opting for the Roosevelt Island Tram. This is one of Manhattan’s best kept secrets for viewing the Eastern skyline as well as four major bridges and – if you’re lucky and it’s clear, the Statue of Liberty . It’s almost always open, except at the very dead of night (past 2:30 AM), so pay a couple bucks and board a cabin, which holds about 125 people, and runs 115 times per day. Running just north of the Queensboro Bridge and peaking out at 250 feet above the East River, this is a four minute ride you won’t soon forget. The Roosevelt Island Tram has also been featured in several films, the most recent of which is the climactic scene of a Spiderman movie, as Spiderman saves a Roosevelt Island Tram cabin full of commuters from the Green Goblin’s evil clutches. Don’t worry, though: the Tram is completely safe and ready for you to enjoy the view and make your way to New York Roosevelt Island.
Once you land on Roosevelt Island, take your time exploring the island on foot or board a signature red bus for just pocket change, which will take you just about anywhere on the island you’d like to go.