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Roosevelt Island Review
The 2-mile-long East River slice of land that parallels Manhattan from East 48th to East 85th streets is now a quasi-suburb of more than 12,000 people, and the vestiges of its infamous asylums, hospitals, and prisons make this an offbeat trip for the historically curious. At the south tip are the eerie ruins of a Smallpox Hospital, built in 1854 in a Gothic Revival style by the prominent architect James Renwick Jr. (Among many other works, Renwick also designed St. Patrick's and the Smithsonian's Castle.) Neighboring the hospital ruins is the recently opened Four Freedoms Park, a memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt designed by famed architect Louis I. Kahn. After decades of delays, the four-acre park—once just a landfill with wasted dramatic city views—opened in late 2012, to much fanfare. The monument to President Roosevelt is essentially a large, open granite box with a giant bust of FDR, and a wall inscribed with the words of the wartime Four Freedoms speech, which the park honors. Visitors can stroll the stone walkways and the symmetrical tree-lined pebble paths that run along the manicured lawn and enjoy unique views of the United Nations and East River. On a small park at the island's north tip is a lighthouse built in 1872 by island convicts. You can get here by subway, but it's more fun to take the five-minute ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway, the only commuter cable car in North America, which lifts you 250 feet in the air, with impressive views of Queens and Manhattan. A visitor center, made from an old trolley kiosk, stands to your left as you exit the tram. Red buses service the island for 25¢ a ride.
- Address: Tramway entrance at 2nd Ave. and either 59th St. or 60th St., Upper East Side, New York, NY, 10044 | Map It
- Phone: 212/688-4836 Visitors Center
- Cost: $2.25 (subway Metrocard accepted)
- Hours: Tram Sun.--Thurs. 6 am--2 am, Fri. and Sat. 6 am--3:30 am; leaves approximately every 15 min
- Website: www.rioc.com
- Subway: F to Roosevelt Island.
- Location: Upper East Side
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