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Get to know Roosevelt Island

Sitting in the middle of the East River, only a short distance from both Manhattan and Queens, two-mile-long Roosevelt Island can feel surprisingly distant from the rest of the city, like its own self-contained world. This character is unquestionably amplified as Roosevelt Island is the only New York City neighborhood you can access via an aerial tram. It is actually impossible to drive there from Manhattan, from where you must either ride the tram or hop on the F train to the island’s lone stop. From the Queens side, you can take a car or bus across the Roosevelt Island Bridge or use the ferry. For much of its history, Roosevelt Island was known as Welfare Island and was home to several hospitals. Redevelopment began in 1969 in the form of apartment towers, with contributions from noted architects. Today, Roosevelt Island is home to thousands of New Yorkers.

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Roosevelt Island Commerce & Culture

While limited (relative to other NYC locations), Roosevelt Island is not without dining. Local restaurants can be found along Main Street, joined by the occasional takeout chain. While two miles may not seem like that much distance for an entire island, Roosevelt Island does offer plenty of sightseeing. Specifically, there is Four Freedoms Park, a four-acre memorial dedicated to President and island namesake Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which can be found at the island’s southern tip. Remnants of the island’s past remain, including the Gothic Revival ruins of the Smallpox Hospital, the only ruin in the city to be designated a New York City landmark. Towards the northern end of the island is The Octagon, formerly the entrance to an asylum, now incorporated into an apartment complex. Generally speaking, though, you can easily catch views of the Manhattan and Queens skylines from various angles on this island.