Escape from Roosevelt Island by Tram


View of Manhattan from the Roosevelt Island Tram at dusk

There are certain places in New York city that I consider to be an undiscovered gem. The 2-mile stretch of Roosevelt Island in the East River between Manhattan and Queens is an odd historical sanctuary from the unrelenting hurry and noise of Manhattan.

Once you arrive, you’ll notice silence. There are very few cars on the island. For one thing, it’s quite small and it’s very easy to walk all over. Two miles long and about 800 feet wide at the widest point, it’s made for walking.There’s a path running around most of the perimeter of the island,which is about 3.5 miles long. A lighthouse is at the north end of the island. The newly opened Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is at the sound end of the island.

Although Roosevelt Island seems remote, it’s not difficult to get to the island. It’s possible to drive to the island from Queens via the Roosevelt Island Bridge on 36th Ave, but I don’t recommend it because of limited parking on the island. I often simply walk/run to the island by this bridge from Astoria. You can get here by the F line and get off at the Roosevelt Island station. But I really recommend taking the tram from Manhattan at 59th St & 2nd Ave station to get to and from the island. The Swiss-style gondola gracefully soars high above the river to give you an incredible view of Manhattan, particularly at twilight as the sun sets and the lights glows against the darkening skies and streets. The ride is the same as a subway ride ($2.25 for a single ride) and you get a free transfer to a subway station. It’s a bargain for a cheap thrill.


Mental hospital at Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island has an interesting history that you can read about on Wikipedia. The Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is a memorial to Roosevelt and his four freedoms speech. It’s a beautiful dedication to his enduring legacy. The interesting history, the odd relicts from its past (such as the derelict mental hospital), the park, the tram ride, the view of Manhattan, and other events that happen on the island (races, parades, and such) make Roosevelt Island a quirky day trip away from the city.

And when you had enough, escape via the tram.

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