A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 336: Lunatic Island

May 20th · No Comments

img_0306The crags of Mordor? A visit by Martians? No, the subject of this photo is Manhattan from Roosevelt Island in the midafternoon (not bad for a squinty iPhone shot).  Yesterday I saddled up the bicycle and visited the island for the first time.

The Roosevelt Island Tram lifts off silently from 59th Street and Second Avenue and in moments one is looking straight down First Avenue, a loft-apartment view that only costs the price of a $2 metro fare. We glided 250 feet above the East River and touched down gently on the island.

I pedaled the path that encircles the shore, soaking up views of the water and Roosevelt’s strange history as the Hospital that Time Forgot. The granite ruins of the Smallpox Hospital decay on the south end, and near the north end I gazed up at the Octagon Tower, the site of the New York Lunatic Asylum back in the days when “lunatic asylum” was not a slur. Both are long closed; the crazies and the diseased are now running things over in Manhattan.

img_0314The island’s highrise condos would feel cramped if they weren’t so low and spacious compared to the hive across the river. If I had to raise kids in NYC I might do so on Roosevelt, with its wide paths and lawns.

Too bad sound travels so well over water. As I tried to absorb the sun and solitude on the west waterfront, I heard every lyric of the rap song some guy blasted out his windows on the FDR.

Tags: Getaways · Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town

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