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Port of Empire: How Jamaica Bay Nearly Became a Great World Harbor

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The Roosevelt Island Historical Society
Presents a Free Lecture

Port of Empire: How Jamaica Bay Nearly Became
a Great World Harbor

by Thomas J. Campanella

Cornell Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP)
26 Broadway, NY, NY

Thursday, June 15 at 6:30 p.m.  

Reservations are required for this event. Please e-mail or call 212-688-4836 by June 5, 2017

By the early 1900s, Gotham’s aging harbor facilities could barely keep up with the surging shipments into and out of the city. Officials feared that the completion of the Panama Canal would place an even greater burden on New York’s port infrastructure, much of which dated from the Civil War era.  The city needed to upgrade quickly if it was to maintain its position as America’s leading port. Brooklyn had the answer—or so it seemed.

Thomas J. Campanella will share the story of how Jamaica Bay almost became a world-class harbor in a free lecture at Cornell’s new Architecture and Planning (AAP) facility at 26 Broadway, New York, New York, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

Thomas J. Campanella is Professor of City Planning at Cornell University and Historian-in-Residence of the New York City Parks Department,  He has written for The New York Times, Salon, Wired and the Wall Street Journal, and splits his time between Ithaca and the Marine Park neighborhood of Brooklyn where he grew up.  ,

This lecture is sponsored by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society and supported by Bozzuto Management and Amalgamated Bank. It is the final lecture in the Society’s spring lecture series.

This event is FREE and open to the public, but reservations are required.

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society promotes awareness of Roosevelt Island’s unique story and pursues the preservation of its landmarks and artifacts.  For more information, please visit




May Issue of Blackwell’s Almanac – Available Now

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World War I recruiting poster. By war’s end, some 21,000 nurses had served overseas. Photo credit: American Red Cross and Library of Congress.

Click on the link to read the latest issue of Blackwell’s Almanac. Enjoy!

2017 May Issue Blackwell’s Almanac



4/6/17 – Lecture “Metropolitan Hospital Goes to the Great War”

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Metropolitan Hospital Goes to the Great War

Base Hospital 48, Mars-sur-Allier, France

The wounded and dying soldiers on the battlefields of the Great War required a new level of medical care. Roosevelt Island’s Metropolitan Hospital played a role as one of a number of American hospitals that sent doctors, nurses and other staff members to run base hospitals in Europe during World War I

Presented by Judith Berdy, President of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society

at the

New York Public Library Branch on Roosevelt Island

Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 6:30 p.m.

The lecture marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I on April 6, 1917 and is sponsored by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. The event is FREE and open to the public.

It is the second in the Society’s annual series of spring lectures.

DIRECTIONS: Take the Tram at 59th Street and Second Avenue or the F train to Roosevelt Island. Take the red bus (no charge) or walk eight minutes north to 524 Main Street.

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society promotes awareness of our Island’s unique story and pursues preservation of its landmarks and artifacts.

For more information, please visit



February 2017 Edition of Blackwell’s Almanac Available

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Click on the link to view the PDF

February 2017 Blackwell’s Almanac 



Celebrate the Roosevelt Island Tram’s 40th Anniversary

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2016 Tram Pic Top 

2016 Tram 40th Text2016 Tram 40th Bottom 

Watch for details

Click the link for the full flyer 2016 May CELBRATE TRAM 40



Roosevelt Island Featured on “$9.99 with Dave Evans” – Dec 16, 2015

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 ROOSEVELT ISLAND FEATURED ON “$9.99 with Dave Evans” Click here for flyer




“Great Outdoors” will have its first airing this Wednesday, December 16th at 9pm.  Remember, our show airs on NYC Life, channel 25 for most, channel 22 on Optimum/Cablevision.  It will rerun as follows:

Fri 12/18/15       2:00pm
Sat 12/19/15      9:30pm
Tue 12/22/15     4:30am

Please tell those you know to watch and feel free to tag us on Twitter or any other social media you’re sharing the news on.

The station’s twitter handle is @nyc_media and Dave’s is @DaveEvans999.

You can also watch the episode anytime online, on our Video on Demand site:

The link will go live at 9pm on December 16th.



Visitors Praise Kiosk Experience

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Each year, thousands of visitors stop in the Kiosk. Some swoop in, grab a map, and leave, while others are extremely interested in Roosevelt Island and spend time chatting with our staff. Two recent visitors were so pleased with their experiences that they took the time to follow up with e-mails to Judith Berdy.

“[…] thanks so much for remembering to send that!  And thanks for chatting with us on Saturday.  Another really enjoyable visit to RI!  Hope to see you there again soon – have a great week and all the best, Tom.”

“I want to thank you for taking time to help me understand and appreciate Roosevelt Island.  I spent more than three hours walking around, taking photos and visiting with people there before taking the tram back to Manhattan. The map was an incredible help.  Something else I got from you was the yellow Archtober brochure.  I attended four interesting tours and lectures which I would not have known about had you not told me about the annual event.  Anyway, now that I’m back in Portland, OR I found your card among my NYC papers and now you know that your presence at the information center on Roosevelt Island made a difference to my NYC experience.  Thank you.  YT,  Corlene”



Issue 3 of Blackwell’s Almanac, RIHS Newsletter – Available now

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Roosevelt Island Historical Society’s August Newsletter

 Vol 1 No 3 Blackwell’s Almanac   Click link to view.



Blackwell’s Almanac (Vol 1 No 2) Now available

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Roosevelt Island Historical Society’s Newsletter

Blackwell’s Almanac (Vol1,No2) Click link to view



Link to Blackwell’s Almanac – RIHS Newsletter

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Roosevelt Island Historical Society’s Newsletter

2015  Blackwell’s Almanac (click to view)