Roosevelt Island has always been at the top of my New York City bucket list, yet somehow it’s taken me three years to actually visit. Don’t ask why it’s taken so long, because I don’t have a good answer other than I’m lazy and rarely leave Manhattan. But this past Friday was particularly overcast and cool, and I had a few hours to kill before meeting a friend for dinner in Queens. It seemed pointless to head back to Harlem, so I figured this was as good a time as any to knock something off my bucket list. Roosevelt Island is, after all, situated in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, so it was on my way.
After this trip, I’m seeing quite a few more in my future. If it weren’t so damn expensive, I’d pick up and move there tomorrow. Roosevelt Island is a city within a city, with one subway stop (the F train) and a sky tram. There’s one Starbucks, one Duane Reade, one Chinese place, one nail salon, one grocery store… you get the picture. But it is meticulously upkept, it is clean, and it is most importantly quiet. Though the tram may be packed crossing the river, it’s as though the people disappear once you arrive. The island isn’t very big, but somehow it’s never crowded.
Roughly two miles long and only 800 feet wide, it took me just over two hours to walk the entire island, and that’s after constantly stopping to take pictures. The southern tip is home to a garden and memorial, while the northern tip has a small lighthouse, with Main Street connecting the two. There’s a strange amalgamation of architecture, from brand new luxury high-rises to old Soviet-looking apartments. The memorial is ultra sleek and modern, but just around the corner from that are the crumbling remnants of an abandoned smallpox hospital. The entire island is a juxtaposition of old and new, with sweeping views of Manhattan and Queens, and the overall effect is simply charming.
With a walking path around the island’s perimeter, there are countless benches which are perfect for people watching. I brought a notebook with me with the intention of mapping out a new book I have in mind, but I was so distracted by how gorgeous everything was that I kind of forgot about it. But now that I know how awesome this place is, I definitely plan to come back and spend some quality time with myself, a good book, and a notepad.
You can take the F train to Roosevelt Island or catch the tram, located at 2nd Ave and 59th Street (and it only costs one swipe of your metro card!).
Click below to check out some of the photos I took!