Ricardo Mejias
The Other Manhattan
#localgems quietly nestled between Queens and Manhattan is a strange island who has changed quite a bit over the years. Blackwell's Island It was first envisioned as a place to hide all the rejects of society while the rich continued their claim of central park. An asylum, a prison (whose prisoners worked at the asylum), and a small pox hospital found a haven here. The asylum was meant to care for patients using new, humane treatments...but ice baths, poor conditions, and an exposé from a journalist who went undercover (and who nearly was trapped there because no one believed her story) colores the island's history in dark shades of Gothic hues. Welfare Island Eventually time wore on and a new era began: Welfare Island. The term wasn't an insult, but a genuine attempt at racial integration and social equality. No neighborhoods had been built yet, so a rare opportunity presented itself. Every unit on the island was rented or sold through affordable-housing programs designed for low- and middle-income New Yorkers. Try doing that today and see where that gets you... Roosevelt Island Fast forward and a new transformation is happening. Remeber the asylum? It's a luxury apartment building called The octagon; however, affordable housing still mantains a presence in the area. A mix of the haves and haves-not mingle now. But river views, quiet spaces, numerous benches, and rows upon rows of cherry blossoms are available to everyone who is lucky enough to find such a hidden gem. Free public buses circle the island. A unique tramway transports people over the water (built back when there was no subway). Travel further north and you'll find a small light house. About two short miles in length; oh, and there's a cat sanctuary too! The island is part of the city but also can distance itself just enough for you to take a deep breath. no one talks about this island, Manhattan takes up all the attention, and you know what? That's okay with me.
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