Roosevelt Island: NYC's Hidden Gem

 ©Azel Drainville

©Azel Drainville

A 2 mile-long, 800-foot-wide island can hardly be called “hidden.” Nevertheless, ask many Manhattanites what’s on Roosevelt Island and chances they haven’t a clue—some even claim to have never been there before (even lifelong NYC residents.) Which may not be entirely true—that is if they’ve ever taken the F line to Brooklyn (it makes a stop on Roosevelt Island.)

Roosevelt Island is situated on the East River right between Manhattan and Brooklyn, running between about 45th and 85th streets. The island has gone by many names since it was originally inhabited by Native Americans, it was called “Welfare Island” before eventually being renamed to Roosevelt in 1971 to celebrate FDR and his policies that created many of the former hospitals and institutions that used to operate there. You can read more about the interesting history of the island here.

Today, Roosevelt Island is like a little piece of the Midwest stuck right in the river. It’s mostly residential, boasts a lot of green spaces, newer construction, jogging paths, and even child daycare. The island has a population of about 9,500 and because of the islands limited size, constant construction is unlikely, meaning that Roosevelt Island will continue to have the space and tranquility that makes it so attractive. It’s like Staten Island but smaller, easier to get to, and, in many cases, cheaper.

 ©Bohong Chen

©Bohong Chen

According to today’s StreetEasy™ listings, there were 48 apartments available: 7 studios, 18 1-bedrooms, 15 2-bedrooms, and 7 3-bedrooms. The average rent was $3,651 with a studio averaging in at about $2,500 and a 1 bed at $2,900. Those prices may seem a bit steep, but remember: you’re only about a 15 min commute to Midtown via the F-line, or alternatively, you can use the iconic Roosevelt Island tram which floats majestically above the island into Manhattan—and it takes your MetroCard, too.

Why don’t more people live there? For one, many people are under the impression that the only way to get to Roosevelt Island is by the air-tram but that’s not the case—the island has its own F-Train stop and is also accessible by car via The Roosevelt Island Bridge. Another reason might be that living on Roosevelt Island isn’t like living in Manhattan—it’s not as crowded, it’s quieter, and it literally has a “Main Street.” This isn’t the NYC living many people have in mind when they move to New York. For many though, that’s the greatest asset Roosevelt Island has to offer. A little slice of home.

 ©Ryyoo Obbaa

©Ryyoo Obbaa

So if you’re looking for Manhattan living with a slice of Midwestern feel, you don’t have to schlep all the way to Staten Island or Long Island—look no further than Roosevelt Island.