In 2004, in protest of increased security in NYC for the Republican National Convention, artist Duke Riley sailed to U Thant Island and proclaimed it a sovereign nation. Here’s the video:
What is U Thant Island, you might be asking? Situated halfway between the United Nations building and Long Island City, it’s named in honor of the former UN Secretary General from Burma. The island was created from materials excavated by William Steinway in his attempt to built underwater trolley tunnels in the East River between Manhattan and his company town in Astoria, Steinway Village. Steinway died before completion of the tunnels, which were finished by August Belmont. Today the tunnels are still used by the 7 line train.
How it got its name: A group of employees from the United Nations who were followers of the guru Sri Chimoy unofficially named it for Chimoy’s friend U Thant, and leased the island from the state of New York. They were allowed on the island once or twice a year to maintain the greenery they planted, but increased security pretty much ended visits by the mid 1990s.
Learn more about the “Other Islands” of NYC in our previous article with Open House New York. Have a quirky find you want us to publish in the Daily What?!? Contact us or submit via Twitter with the hashtag #DailyWhat.