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Roosevelt-Island-Tramway-Queensboro-Bridge-Manhattan-NYCImage via Flickr user scarlatti2004

While the Roosevelt Island Tramway only takes about 3 minutes to travel to and from Manhattan, it’s probably the most pleasant commute in the city. Even the abundance of subway art can’t compete with the tram’s view of Midtown East. This aerial tram has been in operation since 1976 and continues to make about 115 trips per day. The cars run frequently and remain open until 2 AM. The tram was also the last transit system to continue using tokens, switching to MetroCards only in 2004. 

While subtle and quiet against the the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, the Roosevelt Island Tramway is nonetheless a staple of the East Side skyline. Currently, you can catch the tram in Manhattan by walking a short distance from the Lexington Avenue / 59th Street subway station. But what if the trams weren’t confined to the East side? What if they extended further into Manhattan?

Roosevelt-Island-Tramway-Extended-Manhattan-Queens-NYCImage via WXY Architecture + Urban Design

The Forum For Urban Design has spent ample time speculating about New York City infrastructure and how it might be improved. Last spring, the Forum asked designers and civic leaders to pitch their—however impractical—ideas for building a better New York.

One suggestion included an expansion of the Roosevelt Island Tramway, and the simulated image is undoubtedly intriguing. In this conjecture, the tram would span from Queens Plaza to Central Park. It would serve not only as an alternate mode of transportation, but also as a popular tourist attraction, providing sweeping views of the city down below. The proposal also entailed new bridges and an expansion of the East River Ferry service, which now seems like a possibility, though significant funding would be needed. At the moment, it doesn’t seem like the Roosevelt Island Tramway will be expanded anytime soon.

Map-Roosevelt-Island-Tramway-NYCImage via Forum for Urban Design

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1 Comment

  1. WHAMMO! says:

    Wouldn’t there be multiple hi-rise buildings between the tram and 5th avenue preventing this from happening?

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