From the 60th St / 2nd Avenue tram station you can take a thrilling ride across the East River in a Swiss cable car, which takes you to the 147-acre Roosevelt Island in 3 minutes. The cable car was installed in 1976 and was recently (early 2004) out of service for a few weeks for maintenance. But it's up and running again.
The cost for a ride is the standard subway fare, this was also the last place where up until a short while ago you could still pay with a "token", but now only Metrocards are accepted, which means the NYC subway token has completely been phased out (sob).
This may be a cheap ride but it's a great one, and since not that many tourists know about this cable car, outside rush hours it's not that crowded so you'll have some great photo shooting opportunities from inside the cable car. There are some really nice views of Midtown Manhattan and Queens when you're up there. For instance, you can see the spire of the Chrysler Building from a really good angle.
Roosevelt Island, in the middle of the East River, has housed a succession of hospitals, a jail and even an insane asylum and for this reason was also known as "Welfare Island" (Mae West was held in the penitentiary for a week in 1927). Now it's just a residential and office area, although the remaining ruins on the Island add to a somewhat sinister atmosphere. This is a unique spot in (or make that just outside of) Manhattan - and well worth the trip.
Roosevelt Island is connected to Manhattan by tramway and subway, and to Queens by subway and roadway. This means you needn't take the tram back and forth (or not at all if you're not too keen on it) and can just enjoy the sight as it glides along the Queensboro Bridge ...
Tip : check out "A Walk on Roosevelt Island" in my "off the beaten path"-section if you wish ...
It's fun to look out over the city and East River on the ride across the sky on the tram. Take the tram to Roosevelt Island, and then you'll probably want to turn around and ride it back to Manhattan as there isn't a whole lot to do on Roosevelt Island- but if you want, you can walk around or take the bus around the island for 25 cents. Just a $2 Metro Card ride for the tram.
Don't go out of your way to come on this thing, but if you're in the vicinity of 59th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan, then it's worth a trip.
Unless you were dropped on your head as a baby, you'll already have bought an unlimited subway pass, so use it to ride the return trip on this aerial tramway.
Spectacular views down 2nd Av, and then down the Upper Eastern side of Manhattan.
There's not much on Roosevelt Island (once home to the city’s mental institute) to bother with, so we just jumped straight on the one coming back. However if you are in any doubt about the morbid greyness of this place, watch Dark Water with Jennifer Connelly. The tram gets a few shots as well.
I was recomended to take the tram ride across to Roosevelt Island which only cost the same as a single subway journey & you can use your metro card. I took some great pics as we whizzed over the streets of Manhattan.
This island was formerly known as the Welfare Island & before that Blackwell Island. In 1832 a state penitentiary was built there and the New York Lunatic Asylum today it stands as the Octagon tower. So Roosevelt island became the place to send New York's mentally ill, extremely sick (smallpox) and the criminals. The Lunatic Asylum was overcrowded with some 1,700 patients and it was later uncovered that patients were abused. Mae West was a famous patient here.
In 1856 the Smallpox Hospital was opened. In 1973 apartment housing was established & people and it is obviously chaper for people to live here then on the mainland.
The gothic style lighthouse was erected in 1872 but is no longer used.
Brooklyn Bridge crosses over the East River. A bit further north almost opposite the United Nations Building is an island, very narrow and about 2 miles long. Its called Roosevelt Island. It was at once called Blackwells Island after the person that owned it, then Welfare Island. On here was the Blackwell Penetentiary built in 1832. It was here that the New York Official Tweed who embezzled a lot of money from the City was incarcerated. (see my tip'City Hall'). Here also the actress Mae West was imprisoned for 10 days apparently as her behavour in a play called 'Sex' in which she was appearing was appearing was classed as 'lewd'. This prison was pulled down in the 1930's and moved to Rikers Island.
On this island was also a building called 'The Octogan' some of the ruins still seen today. It was a mental asylum. Charles Dickens the writer is reported to have visited it and was alarmed at the dreadful conditions.
There was also a smallpox hospital.
At the northern tip is a lighthouse which was designed by the same man who designed St. Patricks cathedral.
I would like to add that we didnt get onto the island, but have just been reading a novel which centred on the here it was so interesting I read more about it, and certainly wished we had visited. Its an island full of history. I am writing this in case anyone going to Nyc reads this may want to visit.
Having just been on 'Google Earth' which I think is fascinating. I was flying over Roosevelt Island (well literally speaking of course) and clicked on an information point where you could then click to see actual moving video footage of this island taken in 1903 by Thomas Edison (see next tip). This link should take you there should you wish to view it. Just think it is over 100 years old!
Video clip Scroll down and choose wither Windows media player, real video format or quick time format.
In the clip you can see the lighthouse, asylum, hospital and workhouse.
Welcome to the Big Apple! You are going to love us!
Our subway system will take you to some really cool places.
For an interesting trip, both of them on the "F" train line, I suggest heading over to Roosevelt Island, a tiny slip of land tucked between Manhattan and Queens on the Upper East Side. It has an art gallery, little coffee shops, a spooky ruin and a wonderful walking/biking path around the island. Check out the blog http://rooseveltisland360.blogspot.com/ and the historical society site for more info http://rihs.us/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=17&Itemid=31
When you're done there, get back on the "F" train and head to Coney Island. It's deserted and a little seedy, but that's what makes it so wonderful in the winter.
Make sure you visit Central Park, and go to the Bethesda Fountain, located on the 72nd Street cross street, enter from the east side or west side.
Head over to Brooklyn, to the Brooklyn Art Museum, and remember that some museums are free or pay as you wish on Friday nights!
And you MUST visit the NYC version of Paris's "Promenade Plantee," the High Line Park. Here's a link for your review. http://www.thehighline.org/
The island itself doesn't have anything special to offer but it's quick and simple to get over just for fun by the Aerial Tramway. On the way from Manhattan you will see the coast and skyline of Queens, on the way back you can catch the sight of the Upper East Side. The tramway which is actually a chair lift hanging on cables runs by the side of the Queensboro Bridge so you can observe also the bridge and the traffic on it quite well.
A short visit to the Roosevelt island at the suggestion of my colleague is worth coming. The location of the island is between Queens and Manhattan and the subway is Roosevelt island, line F/E from my airbnb residence.
From the subway, you can walk to the end of the island and return by the red bus, which is free. While taking a walk, you can watching Manhattan from a different angle, enjoying the tranquility of the surroundings and taking photos. We had good lunch with excellent Japanese seafood at an restaurant.
The Roosevelt Island Historical Society runs the Visitors Center on the island which they keep open every day from 12 noon to 6:00 pm. Upon taking the Roosevelt Island Tram over from 60th Street / 2nd Ave its a great way to learn about the Island currently and its plentiful and rich history.
The Center resides in one of only two remaining Trolley Kiosks that used to each sit at the foot of the Queensborough Bridge on the Manhattan side.
The way to get to Franklin D. Roosevelt Island is one of the most exciting things i have been in nyc. you get this cable car which you can actually pay with your metrocard pass and you just go up about a couple hundred metres along the west channel and finally get to the island. you can go around the island quickly and enjoy the view. the view to the west channel united nations building side is very nice. the view to the east channel and the queensboro bridge is also nice. the goldwater memorial hospital is located on this island.