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Living in Roosevelt Island

While technically part of Manhattan, Roosevelt Island offers a true escape from bustling city life. The mostly car-free island thrives on green space, treats residents to expansive views of Manhattan's skyline and provides plenty of excuses to get outside with bike- and runner-friendly promenades, large playgrounds and sporting fields.

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Roosevelt Island's convenient tram system also enables residents to make their daily work commute with little hassle. With its own restaurants, shops and grocery stores, the tranquil island's self-sufficiency means trips across the East River are made by choice and not out of necessity.

Roosevelt Island real estate

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Roosevelt Island real estate options consist of modern high-rise apartments and condominiums, which make the most of the island's narrow footprint. The south side of Roosevelt Island is closest to the Roosevelt Island Tramway leading to Manhattan and offers the best selection of luxury doorman condos featuring high-end amenities like rooftop decks, health clubs and conference rooms.

For a more diverse range of  Roosevelt Island apartments, choices range in size from studios to three-bedrooms, the northern reaches of the island make for a great choice. Towering buildings provide spectacular views of Manhattan's skyline and come with playgrounds, gardens and other outdoor spaces perfect for enjoying the fresh air.

Roosevelt Island history

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Purchased from Native Americans by the Dutch in 1637, Roosevelt Island switched hands 30 years later, when British Captain John Manning bought it and turned the peaceful island into farmland. A farmhouse still remains on the island, a symbol of its former agricultural background. New York City purchased the land from Manning's family in 1828 and transformed Roosevelt Island into a setting full of local institutions like the still-standing Renwick Hospital.

The island, named after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1971, switched trajectories once again in the 20th century as a new subway line provided easier access to the island from Manhattan proper. Many of the institutions were shuttered, and high-rise apartments occupied by workers at the United Nations rose up along both sides of the island's shoreline. Today, Roosevelt Island's 14,000 residents only glimpse remnants of the neighborhood's bygone era, thanks to a single hospital and insane asylum landmarked by historians.

Roosevelt Island restaurants

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Nonno's Focacceria and Pizzeria serves piping hot pizzas and quite literally gives local residents a slice of Manhattan without venturing across the river. More than just a pizza joint, Nonno's menu also features burgers, sandwiches and heroes. Its location near public transportation keeps the restaurant busy at all hours.

Fans of Chinese cuisine are also in luck; China 1 Kitchen's diverse selection of food is best ordered to-go from the unassuming take-out restaurant. Menu highlights include Chinese eggplant in garlic sauce and pork dishes.

Roosevelt Island attractions

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Roosevelt Island's former smallpox hospital, Renwick Ruin, remains as a memory of the island's storied past. Treating about 7,000 patients a year at its peak in the 1800s, the hospital, which was abandoned in the early 20th century, sits unchanged as a unique example of natural aging. However, imminent renovations mean you'll want to visit this piece of history soon.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park takes up the entire southern tip of Roosevelt Island. Its immaculate lawn is bordered by rows of trees, and a walking path points towards Manhattan's towering skyline. With a memorial dedicated to the former president and rotating exhibitions every year, the park also serves as a great educational opportunity for residents of all ages.  

The Gothic-style North Point Lighthouse, also called Blackwell Lighthouse, sits at the north end of Roosevelt Island overlooking land once occupied by the island's insane asylum. The structure provides a shady lawn perfect for soaking in views of neighboring Randall's Island and the East River.

Roosevelt Island shopping

Shopping on Roosevelt Island gives residents all the necessities they need to avoid extra trips across the East River. The Wholesome Factory's impressive selection of organic groceries and fresh baked goods provides healthy options close to home. The market's online ordering system also means you can easily pick up food on your way back from work or a day in the city.

For local souvenirs and quirky trinkets, be sure to stop by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society's gift shop and share a piece of your new home with family and friends. The store sells everything from stuffed animals and one-of-a-kind ornaments to calendars showcasing the various breathtaking views from Roosevelt Island.

Roosevelt Island nightlife

Roosevelt Island's serene setting and limited space leads many residents to opt for nightlife just across the East River, but options still remain close to home. For late-night pub fare, televisions for every sporting event and unbeatable views of the nearby Queensboro Bridge, residents flock to River Walk Bar and Grill. This restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. Steps from the F-Train and Roosevelt Island Tram, it provides convenient access to the rest of the neighborhood and greater Manhattan.

The Best of Both Worlds!

"As one of the original "pioneers," I've watched our island grow & flourish over the years. I love the quiet, slower pace; green lawns, trees & river views in all directions, & still only 3 minutes to the UES & all of Manhattan. Lovely!"
Suzanne Wolf
Suzanne              Wolf
Explore Properties in the Neighborhood
415 MAIN ST, Apt. 10A, Roosevelt Island $1,500,000Featured
415 MAIN ST, Apt. 10A 2 Beds / 2 Baths / 1,197 Sq. Ft.

What's In The Area: Roosevelt Island

Driving Walking

Local tips and information for going out in the Roosevelt Island from The Corcoran Group. Explore dining, shopping and nightlife.

All Roosevelt Island tips




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