1. Four Freedoms Park is next door to a cat sanctuary

Four Freedoms Park neighbors a cat sanctuary just to the north, inside Southpoint Park, another public park on Roosevelt Island. The Wildlife Freedom Foundation cares for the cat colony, at one time reaching nearly one hundred feral cats who roam the park and the grounds of the smallpox hospital. The cats have even been sighted farther north, making friends with students on the new campus of Cornell Tech and in residential areas of the island.

No one really knows how this feral cat colony came to be on this small island in the middle of the East River, but they have been well known to residents of Roosevelt Island since the ‘70s. Some speculate that the colony started during the economic crisis of the 1970s, when Roosevelt Island was known as a frequent dumping ground for unwanted cats. Soon after the cats began to appear, the colony became so over-populated that the group Island Cats, now joined with the Wildlife Freedom Foundation, had to set up a trap-neuter-release (TNR) program to keep the population in check. As much as this feline family is beloved by the human residents of Roosevelt Island, these are not wild animals, and their ideal home includes a warm, comfortable couch indoors. Volunteers are invited to join the foundation’s work to feed and care for the cats, and there is an adoption program in place to find each one a ‘forever home.’

Now go discover Four Freedoms Park for yourself!

To get to FDR Four Freedoms Park, you can travel by land, by river, and even by air! The F train, NYC Ferry, and Roosevelt Island Tram are all great – and very different – options for transit enthusiasts to try out.

Learn more about the park and its history on the FDR Four Freedoms Park website.

About the author: Rya Inman is an avid photographer and Earth Science major at Columbia University trying to make those two things go together as often as possible. Connect with her on Instagram @ryainman_photo.