Welcome to Roosevelt Island. A misunderstood place where time slows down, weather patterns change, and 25¢ will still get you a decent bus ride. This week's posts are going to present you with a cross section of Roosevelt Island – from the southern most tip, all the way up to Lighthouse Park.
While most people head up towards Northtown after departing from the Tram or Subway, there's still plenty of good reasons to venture to the other side of the Queensboro bridge - down past the Goldwater hospital and to South Point Park.
What this area lacks in residences or commercial presence it more than makes up for with old buildings, beautiful vistas, and unique landmarks. Perhaps the last element of "modern" Roosevelt Island that you'll pass on your way down here is the Racquet Club. After that, the endless march of hospital structures take over. From overhead, the interesting layout and architecture of the Goldwater campus is evident. The "chevron-like" shape of the buildings all dovetail into each other, creating an interesting flow. However, it appears little has been done to maintain the hospital since being built in '39.
The hospital marks the last of the inhabited part of Roosevelt Island. Past here lies South Point Park – a mostly undeveloped patch of land, which is home to only two structures. The Strecker Lab, which is currently fenced in and not easily seen, was recently renovated after being in disrepair for many years. At over 117 years old, it's age is only surpassed by the Smallpox Hospital just down the path (156 years), and the Octagon Tower (170 years old, on the opposite end of the island). The Smallpox hospital, now known as the Renwick Ruins (after it's architect) had a recent scare as it's north wall collapsed, putting the whole structure at risk. It's perhaps most well-known as the location of Spiderman and The Green Goblin's final battle in the 2001 film.
The Smallpox Hospital is the last building on the island. A grassy field takes you to the tip, where one can enjoy breathtaking views of Manhattan, Queens and the East River. These views are at risk, however, thanks to a controversial plan to develop all of South Point as a memorial to FDR. The Louis Kahn-designed plan is mostly under attack for it's destruction of the views. The plan would plant a row of trees around the entire tip, and convert the shell of the smallpox hospital into an outdoor cafeteria of sorts.
Typically South Point Park is one of the best places to watch the 4th of July fireworks - however since it's being moved to the Hudson River for 2009, Roosevelt Island will have to do without that income for now.
This is perhaps one of the last completely undeveloped parts of Manhattan. It's quiet, empty tracts of land put you in a surreal place that city-dwellers rarely get to experience.
South Point Park and the Goldwater Campus are highlighted in dark blue on this week's map: