My very first blog post on here is called Overlooking Astoria because I feel visitors focus heavily on Manhattan and Brooklyn as their go-to spots when coming into town. Not that Manhattan and Brooklyn don’t have a lot to offer, because they really do – but there are other places that are just as fun and different as those two. I’m a local now. Been living here in NYC for two years and the longer I stay the less I explore my own city. I spend way too much time on public transportation, bumping elbows and legs with strangers. There’s only so much my social anxiety can handle.
However, I know my time in NYC is temporary. I won’t live here forever. So, I’ve taken to getting out a lot more – traveling slow. Walking around my neighborhood instead of taking the bus. Taking different streets every time I walk to the train or a restaurant. I stop to admire the houses, the architecture, the gardens.
Yesterday, I went to visit Roosevelt Island. I’ve seen it on the map, I’ve pass through it’s subway stop, I’ve seen the buildings from both the FDR and Astoria Park. The only reason I ended up there was because Rafael signed us up for a race held there on Labor Day. I’ll be running the 5K and he’ll do the 10K.
Roosevelt Island is like you’re in a different city. A beautiful, grass covered space with well-kept buildings on one side and the East River on the other. You can’t really miss the piles of buildings across the water, but the Island is so quiet and peaceful. All you hear are kids laughing and parents barbecuing. You’ll see old couples walking down the boardwalk and a group of older men in wheelchairs staring out over the water. (There is a rehab facility on the island. It’s not a weird gang – though this is NYC and I wouldn’t put it past them.)
If you’re only in NYC for two or three days, maybe Roosevelt Island isn’t for you. But, if you’re sticking around for a little longer there is only so much of the tall buildings you can handle. I’m guessing. So, take a short day trip to the little island between Manhattan and Queens. You can even take the tramway! Though, to be honest I’m not sure why it’s called a tram. Wouldn’t you really consider that a funicular? Someone please enlighten me.
Tip #1: Bring your own food or purchase from the grocery store. As far as restaurants go, you won’t find much unless you’re into Starbucks and Subway. Then, shame on you. This is New York! Be adventurous!
There is an abundance of green space all throughout the island. These are great places to sit and enjoy the weather, the view or the peace.
Tip #2: As mentioned directly above, there is a lot of green space. But don’t settle on the first green space you find! At the Northern tip there is the lighthouse with green space and at the Southern tip there is some beautiful architectural ruin (former Smallpox Hospital), which also faces the pretty buildings of Manhattan. The island is a little less than 2 miles long. If you’re feel adventurous, hit both ends!
Check out the Instagram NYC Ruin for some really beautiful ruin porn of the now defunct hospital. Totally SFW.
Tip #3: Walk into the center of the island. Grab some ice cream at Main Street Sweets and watch the sun set behind Manhattan on the boardwalk catching the ice cream before it melts down your hand.
Honestly, the walk on the East side of the island is not quite as beautiful. It’s mainly the backs of all the buildings, some skips, a car park, and the back entrance of the rehab facility. Also, across the river in my beautiful Astoria is an enormous power plant, not really picture worthy. Unless you’re into that kind of thing. Then I apologize, carry on.
Tip #4: However, if you do find yourself on the East side, have no fear. Some really beautiful views of the Queensboro Bridge peaking out behind tall trees can be seen (as long as you continue facing West ignoring the enormous power plant behind you).
There is also a well-crafted, busy garden behind a short fence. I peaked my head over just to catch a squirrel eating some delicious, bright yellow grape tomatoes. He paused and caught my eye, but was obviously not done because he didn’t sprint away. He looked quite…healthy.
Tip #5: Finally, walk back onto Main Street and check out The Chapel of the Good Shepherd, built in 1888, this church has great, unobstructed views as it sits in a bricked plaza. Pictures (current and undated) courtesy of NY Landmarks.
Go to Roosevelt Island on a sunny day, take different modes of transportation (Tram from NYC and the Q102 on your way out towards Astoria because you’re feeling adventurous and you trust me that it’s a cool neighborhood). The subway is underground and you can miss some really great views!
Let me know if you’ve ever been to Roosevelt Island and whether you agree or disagree that it’s worth a visit. I’d love to hear!