Sunday, January 20, 2008

Air tram

It's not only ski resorts that have cable cars.
Parallel with the Queensboro Bridge, between Manhattan and Queens,
goes the cable car, or the tram as it's called.

The Roosevelt Island Tramway was built in 1976 as a means to shuttle residents to and from Manhattan.
The tramway, which is a cable car traveling high up over the river,
was only supposed to be temporary until the subway station opened.
But when the subway finally connected to Roosevelt Island in 1989,
the tram was too popular to scrap.

As its name suggests it goes to Roosevelt Islands.
A thin slice of an island between Queens and Manhattan.
Like a twig left floating in the river.

The island's history is rather colorful.
It has featured what was called the New York Lunatic Asylum.
Housing 1,700 inmates. Lunatics one must assume.
Supervised by what one might likewise assume being another group of lunatics.
Convicts from the nearby penitentiary.
Maybe they looked after each other.
Quite practical if you ask me.

This sliver of an island has been home to a smallpox hospital as well.
It seems to have a history of attracting what Manhattan tried to get rid off.

The tram's been featured in several movies.
And the old King Kong Tramway ride at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida,
featured the Roosevelt Island Tram.

Even today it's still strangely far from Manhattan albeit only minutes away.

It doesn't feel like New York at all.
There's space for one. Despite it's size.
It takes only a few minutes to walk from the west waterfront to the east one.
Life is quieter, slower, and never crowded.
Like life in a dull small town.
A small town with the New York skyline as a backdrop.
Almost movie-like.

Well, I've only been there once to be honest.
I don't think there's much to do really.
Other than walk along the shore-line.
Which can be nice enough of course.

The cable car, sorry tram, is the only attraction
of the island as far as I'm concerned.
Maybe it's cool to live there.
Haven't tried.
I have the feeling it might be a bit annoying to know
that nothing is open on your block at night,
and just across the river everything is.

They say the public school is excellent.
Oh, well.

I took the tram so that I could photograph Manhattan from above.
Sorry Roosevelt.

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