Visitors to Manhattan usually want to not just walk around it but also oversee it. After all it houses an incredible collection of skyscrapers on a very small area with Central Park right in the middle.
In order to see it people usually opt to go to the top of the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock or World Trade Center 1 Observatory. But opt to go up 3,100 feet and climb into an aerial tramway carriage and you get a great view of Manhattan for just $2.75, the cost of an MTA ticket. And you get that great view when you take a visit over to Roosevelt Island, one of the 2 islands that provide visitors with great views looking back towards Manhattan, the other being Governor’s Island.
Given that islands were more difficult to get to than mainland NYC, at first what was successively Manning’s, Blackwell, Welfare and finally Roosevelt Island was used up until the 20th Century to house criminals, the poor, the insane and infectious amongst New Yorkers.
But in the 20th Century it was developed as a residential hub which now houses a current population 9,500 and is currently, in the 21st Century, set to become the site of the first purpose built tech hub in NYC, Cornell Tech, which will open in 2017 and take 30 years to complete.
The island is now named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt, native New Yorker, previous Governor of the State of New York and the great wartime president of the United States. In addition to lending his name to the Island there is also a park at the northern end of the Island called the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park.
The Island also houses architecture from the 18th Century onwards which is the sole remaining evidence of the history of the island from its farming beginnings to the time during which institutions were the sole purpose of its use, see video 2.
Access to the island was problematic right up until relatively recently. Now it is serviced by the Aerial Railwy seen in video 1, plus the F train which connects the Island by subway to Queens on one side of NYC and Manhattan on the other side, with a conenction also to Long sialnd.
There are also big red free shuttle buses which operate on the Island. Designed to be car free, there are not some cars around but much of the Island is still blessedly car free.
A trip across to Roosevelt Island is recommended not just because of the great aerial views of Manhattan you get on the way over and then the view from the Island itself both towards Manhattan on one side and Queens on the other but also for its architectural remains. Of course, as well, given how it has developed, it is an area of Manhattan which has a completely different vibe to the rest of the borough which makes it a restful and intriguing corner of Borough.