Neighborhood: Roosevelt Island
Population Density:There were over 12,000 inhabitants on Roosevelt Island according to the Census in 2007, though the new Technology Campus could greatly increase housing development. It’s far, far less densely populated than anywhere else in Manhattan proper.
Adjacent Neighborhoods: Midtown East/Upper East Side, Astoria, Queens. (You know it’s an island, though. Right?)
Public Transit: The best (or at least the most scenic) way to get between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan is to take the Sky-Tram, which embarks in Manhattan at 59thSt. The F train also connects the island to and from both Manhattan and Queens. The Q103 bus offers access to Astoria by bus. The Roosevelt Island Bridge, which connects Roosevelt Island to Queens, provides direct access to Motorgate Parking Garage, which was designed to limit vehicular traffic on the island. The Red Bus offers service around the island’s perimeter for $0.25 a ride.
What’s Here?: Island-life serenity in New York City? Well, not on Manhattan. But definitely, on Roosevelt Island. Although Roosevelt Island rests in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, it is officially part of the borough of Manhattan. The land mass is about two miles long with a maximum width of about eight hundred feet. There is very little automobile traffic on the island and the pleasant white noise of the river mutes traffic sound from Manhattan. Ahhh…peace…
Flat or Tall?: Tall, definitely. Well over 90% of the Island’s residents live in buildings with 50 or more units.
History: Formerly called Blackwell’s Island (as painted by Edward Hopper) and then Welfare Island, Roosevelt Island has come a long way from its history as a practical location for prisons and hospitals. Now a residential enclave made up of high-rise multiple dwellings, the island has recently been declared the site of New York City’s ambitious challenge to Silicon Valley as a technology center.Cornell University is building a $2 billion campus and many tech luminaries such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter, Groupon etc. say they plan to collaborate with the campus.
Activities:Of course,the Sky-Tram is a singular NYC experience. Jog or ride your bike along the promenade that circles the island’s perimeter while enjoying views of Manhattan and Queens. Southpoint Park, opened in 2011, has green spaces as well as the historic Smallpox Hospital/Renwick Ruins and Strecker Memorial Laboratory. The Sportspark offers islanders their own inexpensive indoor pool and gym facilities. Blackwell House, constructed between 1796 and 1804, is one of the few remaining farmhouses built in NYC dating to the period directly after the Revolutionary War. The Roosevelt Island Lighthouse is a stone lighthouse built in 1872 at the northeast tip.
Check it out: Once you’re done exploring the island, go take a quick trip to Manhattan or Astoria, and then return to your peaceful abode one public transit stop away.