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Published: February 19th 2021
18th February- Roosevelt Island via the Aerial Tram
Roosevelt Island had been connected to Manhattan by trolly cars that crossed over the Queensboro Bridge. These trolly cars stopped in the middle of the bridge to meet an elevator, which then took passengers down to the island.
This trolly system remained in service until 1957, & was replaced by buses
In the 1970s, Roosevelt Island was redeveloped to accommodate low- to mid-income housing projects which meant the need for a new public transit connection to the city. Several projects were suggested, the aerial tram system was opened in 1976 as a temporary solution for the island's commuting needs.
The subway project fell behind schedule & the "tram" became more popular and was converted into a permanent facility between Roosevelt Island and the rest of Manhattan until the subway connection to the island was finally completed in 1989.
The aerial tram runs every 15 minutes and the journey takes around 5 minutes, today there were droplets of rain on the windows front and back but we did managed to get quite good views Of the New York skyline from the side windows.
With few passengers
it meant we could enjoy the ride without being too crowded.
Roosevelt Island, was once known as Welfare Island and housed the Blackwell Prison, a smallpox hospital, and even the New York Insane Asylum.
There was still quite a lot of snow on the ground so we were unable to venture far but under the huge Queensboro bridge we had good view across to East side of Manhattan overlooking the East River.
The Queensboro Bridge from 1909 to 1917 was the longest cantilever span in North America.
The bridge used to carry elevated trains. It now carries cars & since 2000, people can walk across the bridge.
Also named the 59th Street Bridge because, it's end in Manhattan is between 59th and 60th streets.
The bridge was renamed after New York City’s Mayor in 2011. Its official name is now the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.
The upper level of the bridge has four lanes of vehicle traffic, the lower level has five lanes. In 2000 a permanent pedestrian walk and bicycle path was incorporated.
An original streetcar entrance kiosk has been relocated
next to the tram station which is now a visitor centre run by The Roosevelt Historical Society.
We heard about the Island’s AVAC System - One of only six of its kind to be used in the USA (the other major one is in Disney World), this incredible feat of Swedish engineering whisks away the garbage of all 20,000 inhabitants at speeds of up to 60 mph.
Trash is sucked out of the homes of Roosevelt Islanders through large pipelines using a complex system of air valves. The center where the garbage ends up is clean, modern and efficient.
When architect Louis Kahn died in 1974 so did plans to build his only New York project, a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt on the south tip of what was then called Welfare Island. Fortunately, the project was revived and finally opened in 2012. Comprising an open-topped deck lined with tall granite blocks.
Although we couldn’t visit we heard about the ruins of the Smallpox Hospital, which, when it opened in 1856, was the first hospital in the country dedicated to the treatment of the infectious disease.
It was time to get back onto the tram where there was time to view The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, built in 1799, it began its career as a carriage house. in 1826 it was turned into a Hotel, mainly a day hotel, used by the upper middle class neighbors for a day in the “country”, but it’s main use was a weekend getaway for locals.
So another interesting side of New York to visit.
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