USA Series: Central Park and Roosevelt Island Tram

 

Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park

Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park

Today Alex and I will spend part of the day enjoying the tranquility of Central Park before we make our way to Roosevelt Island via the Roosevelt Island Tram.  Why?  I saw reference to the “tram” on a map and have no idea what there is to do on Roosevelt Island but taking the tram will be a novelty and I guess we will find out the rest when we get there.

It is our second and last Saturday morning in Manhattan and Alex and I begin our day with a coffee at our favourite cafe called “Joe”, located a couple of blocks from the apartment. I guess the name is taken from the saying “to get a cup of Joe”… or it could just be the owner’s name, Joe?

Joe is the place for that morning cup of

Joe is the place for that morning cup of

Anyway, I am still pinching myself that we are in New York City and am feeling as fabulous as the city is.  It is a perfectly cool morning and the air even smells nice, or maybe its just the lady sitting next to me.  Either way, its a beautiful New York day.

12:00pm
From Joe’s, we walk the three blocks to Cental Park.

Central Park according to Wikitravel:

“Central Park is a large park in New York City, forming a vast green swathe of open space in Uptown Manhattan and a district in its own right, neatly separating the Upper East Side from the Upper West Side, whilst lying south of Harlem. It covers 843 acres (3.4 km²), in the shape of a rectangle 2.5 miles by one-half mile (or 4 km × 800 m) in the central part of Manhattan Island and represents a convenient oasis for New Yorkers escaping from their skyscrapers. Central Park is well-known globally after its appearance in many movies and television shows, making it one of the most famous city parks in the world.”

Having explored and enjoyed the southern end of Central Park last week, today Alex and I will explore the northern or Harlem end.  A large portion of the northern end is taken up by the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir.

Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir

Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir

There are some hard core and weekend joggers doing their thing along the one way loop around the reservoir.  Alex and I have no interest in punishing ourselves and stick to the leisurely walking paths.

There are not many nicer things to do while in New York (on a beautiful day) than to wander and enjoy Central Park.  Central Park is a fantastic space and a pleasant change of pace from the buzz of the city streets, and certainly a lot less crowded.

Sadly, our time in Central Park comes to an end and we exit near the north-east corner, coming out at the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 96TH Street.

We need to now find the closest line 6 subway which is a couple of blocks away.  The 6 line subway will take us to Bloomingdale’s.  Bloomingdale’s is a few blocks walk from the East River and from where we will take the Roosevelt Island Tram (cable car) across the East River to Roosevelt Island.

Queensboro Bridge and tramcar

Queensboro Bridge and tramcar

Tramcar

Roosevelt Island according to Wikitravel:

“Roosevelt Island is an elongated island in the East River between Manhattan Island and Queens. Originally a cattle farm, over the years it has had various names and uses, including as an asylum and a quarantine hospital. Today called Roosevelt Island, it is the home to several thousand New Yorkers who like its calm ambiance and connection to Manhattan. The island offers excellent views of the Manhattan skyline, particularly at the Meditation Steps, just north of the Tramway stop, and Southpoint, a newly-created public space at the southern tip of the island, accessed by one of the riverside promenades.

 

There are two ways to access the island from Manhattan. The most popular way for tourists (and certainly the most scenic) is to take the Roosevelt Island Tramway, an aerial tram which crosses over the stretch of the East River between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island next to the Queensboro Bridge, offering splendid views of the skyline along the way. You can board the tram on Second Avenue at 59th Street in the Upper East Side, the one-way fare is $2.50; MetroCards accepted.”

Roosevelt Island certainly does offer excellent views back across the river to midtown Manhattan including the Chrysler Building.  The other good news is that the trams are fairly frequent and the trip from Manhattan to the island takes about 5 minutes.  The cost of a one way trip is the same as any subway trip, USD$2.50.

Tramcar in action

Tramcar in action

Apparently Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City actress) is a former resident of the island and there are a bundle of residential buildings on the northern end of the island.

View of the residential area from the tramcar

View of the residential area from the tramcar

Our day’s exploration is concentrated around the southern end where the

was created.

With the island being such a compact size, we are able to easily walk to Southpoint Park, a 4acre public space called Four Freedoms Park. 

There's always rules

There’s always rules

We reach the park by the path that runs parallel with the East River along the Manhattan side of the island.

Riverside parth

Riverside parth

We pass the ruins of the Smallpox Hospital.

Ruins of the smallpox hospital

Ruins of the smallpox hospital

Southpoint Park looking back to ruins

Just beyond the Smallpox ruins are some stairs which lead to a green stretch of grass, lined neatly with trees, forming a triangle at the island’s southern tip.

Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park

Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park

We return to the Roosevelt Island tram stop by the path/road that runs along the Brooklyn side of the island and board the next tram off the island.

Leaving the tram stop

Leaving the tram stop

Queensboro Bridge

Queensboro Bridge

View back to Roosevelt Island

View back to Roosevelt Island

Queensboro Bridge entrance

For those needing to reach the northern end of the island, there is a shuttle bus that services the residential area and connects the island tram stop.

I guess the real question is would we go back to Roosevelt Island?  Answer: No.  It was ok and I enjoyed the relaxed pace of the island and its views back to Manhattan but it is not a must see, especially given there are so many other cool things to do in this fantastic city.

Touch down back in the land of the taxi

Touch down back in the land of the taxi

7:00pm
Alex has suggested we see a movie tonight and has found a movie theatre down the road from our apartment.  We decide to walk the 17 blocks from East 86th Street straight down Broadway to the theatre.

Walking the 17 blocks takes us about 30 minutes on what is a warm and sticky New York evening. Of all the things we could do on a Saturday night in New York City, I am not convinced about a movie, but what Alex wants, Alex gets (this time).

Alex’s choice of movie is typically a shoot-me-up or sci-fi.  It is therefore no surprise then that we are off to see Ilysium.  “Oh goody” (she says sarcastically).

10:30pm
The movie is finished… now there’s 2 hours (of a Saturday night in New York City) I will never get back!!

Tomorrow we are lunching with J-Man (Alex’s nephew) before we take a Harbor Lights Cruise in the evening.  I am expecting the cruise will be a highlight because it will give us a chance to see the Manhattan skyline at night from the water… can’t wait.[showmyads]

For previous USA series post see Chrysler Building, Macy’s department store and US Open Tennis
For next USA series post see New York City – Circle Line Harbor Lights Cruise