Today I spent a couple of hours on Roosevelt Island – a two-mile-long strip of land in the East River between Manhattan and Queens – and I don’t get it.
Embarrassingly, I didn’t even know it existed until about two months ago, when I met a guy at a party who worked as a teacher on the island. He then proceeded to break off part of a fruit roll with his sweaty hands and put it in my mouth and for some reason I felt obligated to eat it. Perhaps I should have taken the whole situation as a warning sign.
Don’t get me wrong – parts of the island are beautiful; cherry blossoms have bloomed along a walkway that overlooks Manhattan, and there’s an open park at the south end of the island with smart sculptures of Roosevelt. And the journey over – a stomach-churning tram which dangles over the open water – is great fun.
But other parts aren’t so pretty. The island lines up with 46th to 85th streets in Manhattan, and it’s a reminder that most of Midtown is pretty grim-looking. The island is almost entirely residential, and it was odd watching kids play baseball with a massive factory looming behind them in Queens.
I just couldn’t figure it out. There seemed to be some many apartment blocks and supposedly around 12,000 people live on the island – but I wonder who it attracts. There appeared to be lower-income families pulling children out of buildings which were lined with really smart cars.
It was good to get out and have a look around this island, and the cherry blossoms were beautiful. Although I must say that the best bit was the tram over the water!