Roosevelt Island: the first thought that came to mind was the first stop of the F train on its journey before entering Queens. Nonetheless, I do consider it to be a noticeable piece of land on the East River nestled between Queens and Manhattan. It can be well viewed if crossing the Queensboro Bridge. In length, it is approximately two miles long with a width of 800 feet, with a landmass of approximately 147 acres. These 147 acres contains approximately 9,520 residents according to the year 2000 census, but apparently it has grown to 12,000 as of 2008. The male to female ratio is about 1:1. Demographically speaking, the island consists of almost 50% white residents, followed by 27% blacks. The Asian population is the next dominant population with 13%.

Historically, Roosevelt Island was once called Blackwell Island, but before that it was named Hog Island. Roosevelt Island originally belonged to the Canarsie Indians before it was sold to Wouter Van Tiller in 1637. After the Dutch rule was ousted by the English in 1666, Captain John Manning claimed the island. His son in law, Robert Blackwell soon possessed the island and named it Blackwell Island. His great grand son built the Blackwell House, now a New York historical landmark. Not long after the construction of this house, the City of New York bought the island for $32,000. The island was also called Welfare Island. As I previously mentioned, the presence of the island can’t be denied, but it looks isolated. This characteristic was apparent to many others before me. It was the ideal “haven.” The island once housed the mentally ill and the terminally sick. It was also filled with churches. With this air of hopelessness, the island took on the name Welfare Island.

My first impression of the island was its residential atmosphere. As it turned out, Roosevelt Island was principally intended to be a residential area. Its construction was planned by the firm ran by  Philip Johnson and John Burgee. The New York State Urban Development Corporation decided to implement this plan because it had the residential community design in mind. The island would be divided into three residential sectors. The island school would not be made in the stereotypical stone-like building look, but classrooms scattered around the building complexes. This was intended to give a relaxed, less rigid feeling like the type I had when I first visited the island. The primary development of Roosevelt Island was arguably more innovative compared to the more recent constructions being done.  Examples of this novice development are Westview and Eastwood , both designed by Josep Lluis Sert. Eastwood is the largest apartment housing unit on the island. The complex is worthy of consideration because it is an experimentation of a high-rise construction intended for multiple living space. Further developmental progress was rather slow after the first; the second project Northtown Phase II was completed after a decade when the first was completed. Southtown development was started in 1998, and it is still in the process of completion. Southtown brought in business establishments such as Starbucks.

The Roosevelt Island bridge facilitated the entrance into the island. Initially, a trolley was used to take passengers to the middle of Queensboro Bridge, where an elevator would lower them into the island. The island still does not have much car flow. Buses ran by the ROIC with relatively cheap fares take the island residents from their homes to the train. The Roosevelt Island Tramway provides instant access to Midtown Manhattan. Overall, Roosevelt Island has greatly improved and has shown its beauty since its use as a “hide-out” location for the city’s greatly ill people.