Different strokes

So yesterday was Memorial Day, the equivalent of Remembrance Day in the UK and a full public holiday here. Even for us. Woo hoo. We had a chat about what we’d all like to do and basically we split into 3 camps; Sarah and and Carol headed off down to Macy’s to do some shopping stuff, Ian went with the boys to the Bronx Zoo, and I headed off to visit Roosevelt Island.

The day was cloudy and miserable but not raining heavily. It was a rain mac kind of day – a bit like the Bank holidays you get in the UK. I caught the 4 train down to 59th st because that’s where the bridge is –  the one made famous in Simon and  Garfunkel’s big hit Feeling Groovy or as it’s more properly titled The 59th St Bridge song. I don’t know why because it’s nothing to do with the street nor the bridge. Anyway I wasn’t using the bridge to cross over onto Roosevelt Island but the cable car service which runs alongside. Back in the day Carol and I would visit New York and think nothing of picking up a hire car at the airport and drive into Manhattan and I would always head for the Queensboro Bridge, as the 59th St bridge is more properly titled (hope this isn’t getting too confusing) to cross from Queens into midtown Manhattan. I used to glance at the cable car and promised myself that one day I would ride it.  And yesterday I did.

The cable car is actually one of those Swiss – looking carriages all new and shiny and very safe. This was reassuring and also a bit disappointing. You see the bridge is all girders and is as ugly as sin. I like its functionality a lot – it’s a very honest looking structure with absolutely no frills on it at all.  And I was half hoping the cable car would be 100 years old and all rickety too like an an old French lift (sorry elevator). Mind you if it had been I’d have been a quivering wreck with galloping vertigo. Here’s a few shots of the journey over…

So the island itself is set in the East river and is a mile or so long. Historically it used to house criminals, the sick and the mentally insane. A bit like the rest of New York ha! It was re-dedicated in the early 70’s when it’s regeneration began. The northern half of the island is full of neat residential blocks for international bureaucrats (of which more later) and staff/wealthier students from the nearby Rockefeller and Cornell Universities. There’s a new hospital here too but it is all a little dull especially after Harlem. But the southern tip is full of surprises. The old sanatorium has been replaced by very high end apartments and beyond this is the eerie ruin of the old smallpox hospital which is now a listed monument…

Turn to your right and there are some stunning views of the bridge and the river and Manhattan…

Here’s a pic with the brilliant Circle Line boat in shot. The first time we came here 32 years ago we caught this boat with Shay, Marta and the boys and our girls. It takes 3 hours to circumnavigate the island of Manhattan and is great at helping you fix your bearings and view all the great iconic sites from the water.  It’s clearly still operating and if you ever come here I’d recommend you try it…

Here’s a shot, with the ESB in the distance, of the impressive United Nations complex (I’m going to try and go for a visit before we leave) which is right across the river from this point – hence the need to find housing for all the diplomats and officials nearby….

I hope this panoramic view works on here because it is a cool section of the midtown waterfront…

However it is the very southern point of the island which hosts the most glorious feature, the Four Freedoms Park, which is a beautiful memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It’s like a raised arrow head of white granite with a beautifully manicured lawn top. Leading down to the magnificent bust of Roosevelt with his lovely words on the reverse. Most guidebooks describe it as austere and unwelcoming but I disagree. It’s so peaceful and serene and so appropriate that this tribute to a man who worked for a more peaceful world is sited directly across from the UNO. Take a look at these shots and the final one looking down the East River …

I thought it was so apt that the United Nations building was located right across from where these words were set in stone. It seemed such a fitting setting.

So there you go, well worth a visit and the cost of the cable car was only 3 dollars each way.  If you don’t fancy that you can even get the subway to the island.

Carol and Sarah didn’t take any shots of their day out – too busy of course – so I took one of Bloomies (sadly the not quite so pretty rear entrance  – could have phrased that better) just to whet her appetite for a visit later…

However took quite a few shots of the boys having fun at the zoo including one of them zonked out in the taxi on the way home…

Apparently they had a real blast. Bless ’em.

FBP

 

 

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