There are very few places in New York City where you can find yourself isolated from the chaos of yellow taxis and Uber cars flying through the streets at every hour of the day. But in a small area of the East River, city life takes on a new meaning at Roosevelt Island. Throughout history, the island has gone by several other names and has been used for numerous reasons, but today it acts as a small town of sorts, right within the Big Apple.
Right on the river with views of Manhattan, Roosevelt Island is reached by train or the tram.
The famous tram of Roosevelt Island is known for being New York's most unique commute.
A simple swipe of your MetroCard and you'll be able to take the most unforgettable commute in all of New York! Another perk? The tram is wheelchair accessible.
Taking passengers right over the East River, the tram runs parallel with the Queensboro Bridge.
The tram ride peaks at 250 feet above the ground, allowing you to see glimpses of the island from above before you arrive.
While the island is roughly 2-miles long, it shockingly had a reported population of over 11,000 residents in the 2010 Census.
Roosevelt Island features one public school, educating roughly 540 students from grades Pre-K to 8th Grade. Residents on the island can also enjoy the Roosevelt Island Library, an interesting place to check out.
Those who get to call Roosevelt Island home have the pleasure of enjoying a beautiful pathway that wraps around the island, giving them amazing views of our city skylines.
One of the most interesting and well-known places for our residents to reside on the island is at The Octagon.
Here you can see The Octagon, the only remaining piece of New York City's Lunatic Asylum. This island's history runs deep. Like so many of New York's abandoned asylums of the past, New York City's Lunatic Asylum had rumors swirling around it of mistreatment of patients and the classic horror stories we've all heard so many times.
After years of abandonment and being destroyed by several fires, the asylum was knocked down to make way for an apartment complex, leaving The Octagon standing as the only remaining piece of this part of the island's history.
In 2006 The Octagon apartments were built and have since been a popular place for Roosevelt Island residents to call home.
When it comes to housing on Roosevelt Island, the majority of what you'll find are recently added condos. Many of our residents who call the island home are those who work at the United Nations Headquarters in the city, a relatively short commute from their homes.
Just north of The Octagon you'll find the North Point Lighthouse on the island.
One of the most visually stunning pieces of the island's history that's been left behind, the lighthouse was built in 1872 to help light up the asylum. To get to this point on the island and to see the historic lighthouse for yourself, you can take a roughly 20-minute walk from the tram or explore other ways of transportation!
While you're not likely to see cars, you will find that Roosevelt Island has its own bus system that you can take advantage of.
During our warmer months, the island becomes an amazing place within New York where you can ride your bike around the perimeter of the island or go for a jog. But if your busy city legs run themselves too tired, you can always make use of the island's bus system that has stops right near all of the attractions you'll want to visit.
Would Roosevelt Island really be Roosevelt Island if there wasn't a memorial for President Franklin D. Roosevelt? Well surprisingly, this almost didn't happen.
Originally an architect by the name of Louis Kahn had made plans to build his only project in New York right on the island, creating a memorial for President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the southern end of the island. Sadly, Kahn passed away before the project could be completed back when this place was known as Wellfare Island.
Today, you can find the only memorial dedicated to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his home state of New York.
Giving you incredible views, the four-acre park is open every day to visitors, except Tuesdays.
Speaking of visitors, the island's Visitor Center is something you'll want to check out!
Staffed by volunteers who are full of knowledge on the island and its long history, the kiosk is a great place to check out when you first arrive to Roosevelt Island. The kiosk itself holds historical significance, a structure that was restored and moved, it was once a piece of the island's trolley system that was up and running from 1916 to 1957.
The island is home to several historic structures, many of which have made their way onto the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the most popular historic places to visit on the island? The ruins of an old Smallpox Hospital.
Opening in 1856, the hospital was once equipped with one hundred beds while this place was called Blackwell's Island. Like I said, this island has gone by several names. In 1972, the hospital was added to the National Register of Historic Places and still stands abandoned on the island today for visitors to view from the street.
Interesting fact? Four years after the hospital was added to the national register, it was declared a New York City landmark, the only ruins in the city to have this title.
While there's plenty to keep you visit if you take a trip to Roosevelt Island, sadly when it comes to food there aren't too many options. But that shouldn't keep you from visiting!
In recent years there's been an increase in Food Trucks on the island, ironic considering the lack of cars. If you've never enjoyed food from one of New York City's food trucks then taking a trip to Roosevelt Island could be the perfect way to change that!