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Great Spring Time Tours on Roosevelt Island

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 Save the dates for:

Great Spring Time Tours:

Roosevelt Island Historical Society

6th Annual Cherry Blossom Walks

Saturday, April 12th & Saturday, April 26th

11:00 a.m.

Tours leave from the Visitor Center

Tram Plaza, Roosevelt Island

Suggested Donation: $10.00

Reservations requested:






“Forgotten Queens”

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Forgotten Queens Book cover clip_image002The Roosevelt Island Historical Society


“Forgotten Queens”

Join Historian Robert Singleton for a Fascinating Journey thru our Neighboring Borough


6:30 p.m.

Roosevelt Island Branch, NYPL,

524 Main Street, Roosevelt Island

In the early years of the 20th century, Queens County underwent an enormous transformation.

The Queensboro Bridge of 1909 forever changed the landscape of this primarily rural area into the urban metropolis it is today. Forgotten Queens shows New York’s largest borough between the years 1920 and 1950, when it was adorned with some of the finest model housing and planned communities anywhere in the country.

Victorian mansions, cookie-cutter row houses, fishing shacks and beach-side bungalows all coexisted next to workplaces and commercial areas. Beckoning with the torch of the new century and a bright promise for those who dared to pioneer its urban wilderness, Queens flourished as a community.

Robert Singleton, Executive Director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society will take us on a journey thru these neighborhoods, moments from Roosevelt Island.



Roosevelt Island Historical Society Presents New Exhibition

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Window Display Collage Final

Signs of Times Gone By

Presented by Judith Berdy, RIHS President 

Curated by Sean McGee

            Exhibition, salvage store, or urban archaeological site, it’s up to you to decide as you are invited by The Roosevelt Island Historical Society to gaze upon Signs of Times Gone By presently on display in the Rivercross window on Main Street through the end of July. While there, reminisce upon moments recalled to mind by the familiar objects which once led you to so many memorable locations. As aging signs have been lowered across the island, new signs have been raised in the process. Their emergence marks an evolving transition for the inhabitants of Roosevelt Island.

The present exhibition, featuring familiar signs and markers from across Roosevelt Island, displays a crossroads of both time and place. One of the exhibit’s more intriguing goals includes the anticipation of a series of viewer posed questions and responses which may serve to engage visitors by stimulating conversations with many of the Island’s residents. Some of the dialogue may include the following: Whose interests were served by these signs? What was their purpose? When did you find them to be useful? Where were they located? Why were they located in those specific areas? How were you affected by them? Are these signs merely a reflection of “times gone by” or do they retain the capacity to serve a real purpose as they evolve?

We hope that your visit to Signs of Times Gone By triggers both memories and curiosity relating to the fascinating history of Roosevelt Island.


The Roosevelt Island Historical Society thanks both Hudson Companies and Inspiron Construction for their generous assistance with this exhibition.



Welfare Island in the Time of Edward Hopper – Free event – May 14, 2013

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Welfare Island in the Time of Edward Hopper

“Blackwell’s Island " Edward Hopper, 1928

“Blackwell’s Island ” Edward Hopper, 1928


The announcement that Edward Hopper’s 1928 painting Blackwell Island would be auctioned at Christie’s on May 23rd has sparked a revival of interest in this work.

The painting is the subject of a lecture by Judith Berdy, President, Roosevelt Island Historical Society, in a program sponsored by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, at the New York Public Library Branch on Roosevelt Island, on Tuesday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m.

The painting features the north end of what is now Roosevelt Island and its dark silhouetted buildings includes the Metropolitan Hospital dome and other hospital buildings.  The lecture will incorporate period photographs to explore the context of Hopper’s 1928 work.

Blackwell Island, owned by a private American collector, has frequently been exhibited at leading museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The work has never been auctioned before.  The painting is being auctioned by Christie’s on May 23rd and will be on view at Christie’s, 20 Rockefeller Plaza from May 19 to 22, 2013.

The event is FREE and open to the public.



Jane’s Walk New York – Sunday, May 5, 2013

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Join Us For


Roosevelt Island


Date: SUNDAY MAY 5, 2013

Time: 12:00 PM –2:30 PM

Walk Host: Judith Berdy and members of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society

Accessibility: Fully Accessible

Description: Explore different parts of Roosevelt Island from the South FDR Memorial to our Northernmost parks.

Meeting Place: Roosevelt Island Historical Society Visitor Center Kiosk at the Tram Plaza

Ending Place: Roosevelt Island Historical Society Visitor Center Kiosk at the Tram Plaza



Time to Unwind: The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Leisure in Jacksonian New York

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Built in 1799 and one of the eight oldest buildings in New York City, The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden interprets travel, leisure, work and play in diverse antebellum New York.

Dana Settles, Curator of Education, will describe the leisure activities of New Yorkers in the 1820s. Some highlights will include traditional toasts and activities in the taverns, and the guests who frequented these locales.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.


The NYPL Branch Library, 524 Main Street, Roosevelt Island


Sponsors: The Roosevelt Island Historical Society and The New York Public Library, Roosevelt Island Branch

This program is FREE and Open to the Public

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

This program is funded by the office of City Council Member Jessica Lappin


DIRECTIONS: Take the Tram at 59th Street and Second Avenue or the F train to Roosevelt Island.

Take the red bus for 25 cents or walk eight minutes north to 524 Main Street.




February 12th Presentation – The Uppity Women of Downtown New York

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The Uppity Women of Downtown New York

Presented by Kathleen Hulser,  Public Historian

As New York grew in the 19th century, its reputation as sin city ballooned almost as fast as women’s skirts. Just living in such a volatile place could endanger a woman’s most precious possession: her reputation. Today, the search for women who tested boundaries and redefined roles turns up a passel of uppity gals whose bonnets and ribbons cannot hide their bold spirits. Hulser will lead a presentation of some fascinating personalities, including Nellie Bly and Emma Goldman, who have ties to Roosevelt Island.

Sponsors: The Roosevelt Island Historical Society and

The New York Public Library, Roosevelt Island Branch

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 at 6:30 pm

This program is FREE and Open to the Public

This program is funded by the office of City Council Member Jessica Lappin

Row 1: Mary Rogers, Madam Restell, Emily Roebling. Row 2: Victoria Woodhull, Emma Goldman, Nellie Bly, Eleanor Roosevelt.



Sandy’s Impact on Roosevelt Island Landmark

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Hurricane Sandy devastated our Lighthouse Park on October 29, 2012.  The seawalls were breached; the park was flooded. The two wooden walkways leading to the lighthouse were destroyed. There was extensive damage to the park including loss of power to the lamp posts,  loss of many older trees and new sink holes. Lighthouse Park is closed for the immediate future due to the extensive damage.

Light House Park Flooded after Sandy 2012

Photo by Judith Berdy 2012



Opening of the FDR Four Freedoms Park

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Click here to view the FDR Four Freedoms Park website.

The park is open Thursday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. only.























































Plattsburgh State University School Nurse Training Class of 1965 returned to Welfare Island

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On Friday, September 21st, over 50 members of Plattsburgh State University School Nurse Training Class of 1965 returned to Welfare Island, now Roosevelt Island. This group of students studied not only to be registered nurses but school nurse teachers. They were at Plattsburgh for an intensive four year program that ran all year. They received the equivalent of an RN and teaching degree in what would now take five years to complete.

The students spent their first and last year at Plattsburgh and came to NYC to do practical nursing at Metropolitan Hospital (The Met). By the time the Class of ’65 arrived, The Met had moved to Manhattan.  Each day the students were driven from  the Central Nurses Residence  to The Met, which is located at 97th Street and First Avenue.  The second year the students relocated to a residence, Draper Hall, which had been newly built in Manhattan.

The alumni had a tour of The Met on Thursday (9/20/12) and a full day of visiting the hospital and remembering their time there. On Friday (9/21/12), they came to Roosevelt Island where Judith Berdy, RIHS Board President, guided them on a full day tour of the island including Lighthouse Park, Octagon, Main Street, Southpoint Park as well as passing by many of our island landmark structures. Everyone was most impressed with the great views of The Met from Lighthouse Park; where a group photo was taken.

Though little is left of the sites some remembered, the island was most impressive to them and interesting memories were shared among the group. The nurses recollected how they became big city sophisticates and recalled that returning to campus was boring. It seemed that many of the students were busy swallowing goldfish.