NYC Winter Weekend Trip Report Part 4 – Visiting Roosevelt Island

On the tramway

Monday was our last day in New York with a scheduled evening flight back to ATL. My wife had plans to visit her favorite art supply warehouse a few blocks from the Andaz right on 5th Avenue. After we had breakfast at the hotel, we decided to leave our things in the room until 4pm as we would pass back by the hotel before leaving for the airport. Having 4pm checkout is one of my favorite Globalist benefits when we have a late flight.

Usually when my wife visits her favorite place, it gives me an opportunity to do something touristy that she probably wouldn’t be interested in. Last year, I went up to the top of the Empire State Building for the first time. This trip, I decided on something much cheaper – a visit to Roosevelt Island.

Roosevelt Island sits in the East River between Manhattan and Queens. You’ve probably driven over it on the Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge and not even realized it. There are basically four ways to access the island: by road from Queens, by ferry, by subway or via the Roosevelt Island tramway, a cable car system that runs from 2nd Avenue and 59th Street in Manhattan.

I walked over to the tramway from the hotel and bought a ticket ($2.75 on the Metrocard) for the next tram which was running every 15 minutes or so on this weekday morning. I managed to get a good spot at the rear of the car for some pictures as we went over the river for the four-minute journey.

From my exhaustive (Wikipedia) research, it appears Roosevelt Island has about 12,000 residents, although I barely saw anyone when I was there. I assume most of the residents were working either from home or in Manhattan. There’s an indoor sports club with tennis courts near the tramway station, several high-rise apartment and condo complexes toward the north end of the island with schools, a few shops and restaurants, and the entire southern end is an historic site/park dedicated to FDR.

You can rent Citibikes on the island, although I just decided to walk around and explore. I first visited the FDR historic site. On the way, you pass an old smallpox hospital that has basically been preserved in its final run-down condition.

At the southern tip of the island, there’s a huge bust of FDR and several plaques with some of his famous quotes. There’s some great views of the UN building and all the way to downtown Brooklyn as the weather was very nice this morning (that would change!)

I walked back past the tramway station and then under the bridge to explore the north end of the island. I grabbed a coffee and sat for a few minutes in the pleasant weather.

Around lunchtime, I was ready to get back to Manhattan and check up on how my wife was doing. I took the tramway back to civilization.

I really enjoyed my visit to Roosevelt Island. If you have young kids, it’s a great place to get them to burn off some energy without worrying about them running into Manhattan traffic. There’s a path around the entire island and very few cars moving around.

Up Next: Getting to JFK the New Way

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