Roosevelt Island

A tiny island cozily snuggled in the East River between Queens and Manhattan, Roosevelt Island is only 2 miles long, with a maximum width of 800 feet. Originally known as Blackwell Island, the New York Lunatic Asylum, a Smallpox Hospital, and a 200-cell penitentiary were all built on this island in the early 1800’s, keeping their doors open for well over a century. Today, Roosevelt Island has become primarily residential, with rental apartments and condominiums found throughout the island.
The Vibe
With a total population of approximately 12,000, Roosevelt Island has a quiet, residential vibe. Most of its residents commute into Manhattan via an aerial tramway, or by catching the F train at the Roosevelt Island Station. With the crime rate well below the national average, Roosevelt island is an ideal place to live for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, while literally staying within arm’s reach from it.
Bragging Rights
The Roosevelt Island Tramway, the only commuter aerial tramway in the Northeast, runs every seven minutes during rush hour.
Many of the Island’s residents have harbored negative feelings towards Main Street, calling the apartments lining the street dreary and depressing. Unlike many of the charming brownstones found throughout the rest of the city’s residential areas, the apartments lining the busiest street on this narrow island are unremarkable, gray, prison-like buildings. The luxury apartments along the waterway, however, are much more aesthetically appealing.
Best Kept Secret
The Octagon building, built in 1834 as part of the New York Lunatic Asylum, was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Once a home to those deemed “insane,” it has since been renovated into a high-end apartment building. All of the Octagon’s 500 units feature floor-to-ceiling windows, offering its residents spectacular views of New York City.
By Day
Since most of its residents are commuters who work across the river, Roosevelt Island remains relatively quiet during the day. This, however, will be changing soon, as Cornell University begins construction for its 2.1 million square foot, state-of-the-art technology campus building, which will surely bring more foot traffic than the island has ever seen before.
By Night
Nightlife is virtually non-existent on Roosevelt Island. The Riverwalk Bar and Grill, located on Main Street, provides the island residents with a place to drink beer and watch sports, and is open until midnight, with the exception of Friday, when the bar is open until 1 AM.