Photo by Stercus.caput via Wikimedia Commons
Rat Island is probably not the lush, beachy island that you’ve always dreamed of owning. In fact, this 2.5 acre lump of bedrock has no sand at all and is instead covered by broken glass (from beer bottles) and guano. Plus, during storms, the island is often completely submerged underwater. None of this deterred Alex Schibli, 72, from purchasing the island for $176,000 in October of 2011, making Rat Island the first and only privately owned island in the New York City archipelago.
In an interview with the New York Post that following June, Schibli, a City Island resident, claimed to have always wanted his “own place for peace and quiet in the middle of the ocean.” When asked about his plans for the island, he stated that his first priority was to change the island’s name back to “Rattle Island.” This older appellation referred to the rattles that locals used to alert sailors of dangerous rocks. The island’s current name is not only a shortening of Rattle, but also refers to the escaped prisoners–“Rats”–who would hide on the island. In addition, Schibli said that he hoped to someday build a solar-powered, eco-friendly vacation home made of reclaimed wood. (Schibli previously specialized in energy conservation when he worked for Port Authority.) As a family man, he planned to invite his many children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews onto the island for frequent family outings.
There has not been much news about the state and progress of Rat Island since summer of 2012. As far as we know, the island’s name has remained unchanged, which probably means that the vacation home was not built either. Furthermore, we’re curious as to how Superstorm Sandy might have altered the island or forced Schibli to reconfigure his ideas.
We plan to stay on the lookout for any developments in the narrative of Schibli and his beloved island. In the meantime, check out some of the other islands of New York City!
Get in touch with the author @YiinYangYale.