Jessica Gross

Free(ish) Fun!

In musings, people watching on December 9, 2008 at 5:52 pm

What costs one MetroCard swipe and flies over the East River?

Presenting: the Roosevelt Island Tram! This is my new favorite transport mechanism. It’s a gondola that takes you from Midtown East (60th and 2nd), over the river, to Roosevelt Island. It soars alongside the Queensboro Bridge like a fun little airplane. Once you’re on Roosevelt Island, you can take the Tramway, a tiny bus, all around the island — for only 25 cents! I felt like I was in the olden days.

From Manhattan, Roosevelt Island looks industrial. From the Tramway, it also looks industrial, but more like apartment buildings built in an unattractive style than actual factories. It’s a little bubble of a community: there’s a Duane Reade, a grocery store, a soccer field, and the one little bus. Of course, it’s sandwiched between Manhattan (to the West) and Queens (to the East) — and accessible by not only the Tram, but also the F train — so in fact it’s not isolated at all.

The Tram is an intense spot for people-watching. My big question: how many rides does it take for a passenger to stop caring about the view? My Tram hosted a bunch of kids with way-too-big backpacks who still looked entranced. But for their mom, this was part of the daily routine: collecting the children from school in Manhattan and riding the Tram home to Roosevelt Island.

In January, The Times did a great series on New York City commutes. Check out the Billie Collins’ piece on the Tram.

  1. Why have I never ever seen this? Ever? I want to ride it NOW.

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