The infamous Rikers Island, the East River home to NYC’s main prison complex.
The first island that typically comes to mind at the thought of NYC is Manhattan. It’s hard to remember that Manhattan isn’t the only island in the city. This week’s featured Foursquare list taps into The Other Islands of NYC, ranging from popular spots like Roosevelt Island to lesser-trod places like a prison complex and a lump of bedrock.
Liberty Island: The most famous inhabitant on this island is none other than Lady Liberty herself, but Liberty Island is also the site of Fort Wood, an early nineteenth century military fort that currently makes up the base of the Statue of Liberty. The island was initially called Bedloe’s Island.
Mill Rock: This unpopulated island used to be two islands, Great Mill Rock and Little Mill Rock, and was used as a fort in the War of 1812. The two islands were dangerous areas for ships, earning the name “Hell’s Gate” before Army blew up the larger island in 1885 to up the area’s safety.
North Brother Island: Like Roosevelt Island, North Brother was a smallpox hospital in the 1850’s — and was where the infamous Typhoid Mary died. It later became a WWII veteran home and in the 1950’s, served as a drug center. The abandoned island is now closed to the public.
Rat Island: This privately-owned is just a lump of bedrock, covered in broken beer bottles and bird guano.
Rikers Island: The island hosts a correctional facility, prisoners aren’t the only visitors. If you’re community-service inclined, the Rikers Island Project offers legal workshops, counseling and legal advocacy for incarcerated people.
Roosevelt Island: Situated between Manhattan and Queens, the island is home to about 12,000 New Yorkers. From here, you can also get a great view of the NYC skyline, and is home to an abandoned smallpox hospital. It’s also home to newly-opened Four Freedom’s Park, where we got a behind-the-scenes tour.
Staten Island: Probably the best known island on the list, the island is the least-populated of NYC’s boroughs. Fort Wadsworth, built in the seventeenth century, features Battery Weed, a park that is now open for public tours. In an effort to boost tourism, a 625-foot Ferris wheel — what would be the world’s largest — is currently under construction and expected to be completed in 2015.
U Thant Island: This man-made island on the East River is only half an acre, and is the smallest island in the borough of Manhattan. It was created by William Steinway in an attempt to link Manhattan with Steinway Village in Astoria.