Roosevelt Island, which sits between the waterfront of Long Island City in Queens and the east side of Manhattan, can be coined as one of the hidden gems of the vibrant New York City. The destination has spent a large part of its existence being overlooked, but has started getting its long overdue share of attention recently, thanks to Instagram. Now that the location is on our radar, let’s put it up on our 2020 bucket list. Here’s what can discover at Roosevelt Island. By Kumar Shree
1. Four Freedoms Park
Sitting on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, the Four Freedom Park is a park and memorial built in honour of President Franklin Roosevelt. It was designed by a celebrated architect of his time – late Louis I. Kahn. One visit to this park and some good clicks will light up your Insta feed, as you can witness the East Side of Manhattan and Queens from here. Take note that entry is free and the park stays shut on Tuesdays.
2. Renwick Ruins
While the history of this structure might not be very appealing, it still calls for a visit to witness the sheer contrast of what this place used to be versus what it is now. Speaking of history, the place was one of the eight hospitals and ‘asylums’ made by the New York City to contain smallpox patients. The Renwick Ruins are the remains of the Smallpox Hospital built in 1856. After being abandoned till the 1900s, now it is one of the largest affordable housing projects of New York City.
3. Octagon Tower
Again, a striking specimen of the contrasting past versus present of Roosevelt Island, Octagon Tower used to be a part of the New York Lunatic Asylum. It was built in 1839. The New York Lunatic Asylum was one of the first institutions established for curing those suffering from mental illness. The present-day Octagon Tower, however, is a luxury residential complex.
4. Blackwell Island Light
Starting from the southernmost tip, we have now reached the northernmost tip, which is guarded by the tall and towering Blackwell Island Light. Erected in 1872, the tower was built by inmates of a prison living there. It is a popular picnic spot today, and you can easily witness people sitting against the sea wall with their feet hanging over the water. We suggest a visit around dusk as the tower appears supremely beautiful at the time.
5. Roosevelt Island Tram Ride
Put this ride on the top of your list when visiting the Roosevelt Island, as the ride is delightful in more ways than one. One, for an almost negligible cost, you get an aerial ride from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Two, you get to witness the East River in all its glory and the neat skyline of the city. It can’t get better, right? You’re welcome!