The Queensboro Bridge And Riding The Roosevelt Island Tramway


I clearly remember riding the Roosevelt Island Tramway when it first opened in 1976. In fact, I rode it with my partner at the time. He and I lived on East 65th Street and Madison Avenue; therefore, all we had to do was walk over to East 59th and 2nd Avenue, which is where the tramway station is in Manhattan. The tramway goes from Manhattan over to Roosevelt Island, parallel with the Queensboro Bridge.

For those of you who are not familiar with Roosevelt Island, it is a narrow island (rich in history) on the East River. It is part of Manhattan, but apart from it.


Before I share my photographs, I thought I'd show you what the Roosevelt Island Tramway looked like back in the 1970's...


Please notice how the original cabins were suspended by only a single hanger, which caused them to sway if it was a particularly windy day. Back in 2010, when the tramway received a 9-month complete makeover, they built new cabins with a double hanger, which now gives them more stability for a smoother ride.

And not to freak you out or anything, but back in 2005 and 2006 the tramway had several technical breakdowns in which passengers were trapped in a cabin at one time for SEVEN hours, and another time for over NINETY minutes. They had to use rescue baskets to get all the passengers out and down to the ground. YIKES!

That's one of the primary reasons they shut the tramway down for nine months. It desperately needed a safety upgrade.

Oddly enough though, when I rode the tramway most recently, I didn't feel the slightest bit apprehensive or scared. And this is coming from someone who does NOT like high heights.

I actually found the whole experience fun and exciting!

Here are the photographs I took on that day. Some of these were taken with my camera, others with my cell phone.

Please enjoy...

(For some idiotic reason, I didn't think to take pictures of the tramway station on the Manhattan side. So here's what it looks like on the Roosevelt Island side)


I was standing directly in the front of the cabin as I took these shots.
Here we are as the cabin lifted off...



As we ascended...



Here we are as we approached the peak of the tramway...



Glorious!


At this point, the cabin started to descend rather quickly, which made a large group of children start to scream. Yes, I kid you not, they literally SCREAMED, as if they were plunging to their deaths!

I felt like turning around as Cruella DeVille and spurting, "Oh for crying out loud, cut the shit and stop being so damn DRAMATIC!!" But alas...I did not.


Once on Roosevelt Island, I took these next several photographs...




I would like to interject here by sharing comparison photographs of one of my favorite Woody Allen films, Manhattan, and the scene in which he and Diane Keaton are sitting on a bench next to the Queensboro Bridge. The top photo in the collage is mine (edited in black and white) and the photo below is from the movie. The only difference is that my photograph is shot from the Roosevelt Island side, while the movie photograph is shot from the Manhattan side. But it's the same bridge.


It's been years since I've seen Roosevelt Island, so I didn't know what to expect. Well, let's just say that I was VERY impressed by how attractive and cozy it was. I didn't take a lot of photos while I was there because I was mainly focused on the Queensboro Bridge and the tramway. Next time I go back, I'll focus on the island itself.

A view looking over at Manhattan. And as you can see, the weather was flawless that day. Sunny and cool without a single drop of humidity...



This is a view of the bridge looking in the direction of Queens...


This final photograph is a view from beneath the Queensboro Bridge. I love how rusty, gritty, and raw it looks...


Have a grrrrrrreat week, everyone!
X

*In case you're interested, here is a link to a wonderful PBS short video about the Roosevelt Island Tramway. Enjoy!

26 comments

  1. Valerie DaggattJune 10, 2019

    An amazing piece of engineering, and a huge surprise to newcomers to the scene. I wonder how long it took to complete. Those sitting at the tow-away zone had plenty to look at and digest. Your photographs were great.
    Here we are at the start of another week. I aim to watch the poppies open, four so far and twelve more buds to catch.

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  2. I don't remember ever hearing anything about the island or the tram! That must have been a bit surreal to experience it again after all these years. I'm not sure I would want to ride the tram or not because I don't do well with heights. I've been on a few and was nervous as hell! I look forward to learning more about the island from you, Ron. Have a super week!

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  3. I'm not a big fan of heights either, but I've always enjoyed riding trams. We took a family trip to NYC in 1976 for the Bicentennial and I remember riding the subway, hitting up the Statue of Liberty, etc. but I don't think we ever rode the tram. Guess I'll have to add that to my agenda the next time we visit. You know, when that blogger named Ron is our personal tour guide! :)

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  4. You're so right, Valerie, an amazing piece of engineering! And back in the 70's when the tramway was first introduced in NYC, it was such a big deal because the only ways to get to Roosevelt Island was either to drive across the bridge or take the subway.

    You know, I don't know how long it took to complete. That's something I will try to investigate. The only I know is when it opened (1976) because I will living NYC at that time. I also know that each cabin holds up to 125 people, and the tram makes approx. 115 trips per day.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Hope you're having a fabulous start of your week!

    X

    P.S. Enjoy those beautiful poppies!

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  5. Yes, it was! I had planned my trip to NYC the week before I went and was searching online for cool things to do during the summer, and the Roosevelt Island Tramway came up. I immediately knew I wanted to do it because it had been YEARS since I rode it. I could really see how much renovation they did because the cabins were so nice-looking (big, clean, and very well-kept).

    Normally, I'm not a fan of heights, but it's funny because over the past 5-6 years, I'm don't feel as scared as I use to. When I went up to Top of the Rock several years ago, that's when I started to feel less paranoid about heights.

    I plan on going back to Roosevelt Island sometime this summer to take pictures. It's really quiet a beautiful island. And so full of history.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a faaaaaabulous week!
    X

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  6. Me too, Mark. I don't like heights, but what I don't like more is being afraid to do something that I really want to do, but scared to do. It makes me want to do it more, just to overcome my fear.

    "We took a family trip to NYC in 1976 for the Bicentennial and I remember riding the subway, hitting up the Statue of Liberty, etc. but I don't think we ever rode the tram. "

    Wow...you did quite a bit when you were there. The thing about NYC is there is SO MUCH to see and do, that it's impossible to see it all in one trip. I used to live there and go back to visit at least once month, and I STILL haven't seen everything.

    "You know, when that blogger named Ron is our personal tour guide! :)"

    Ha! You better believe it! I would love to be you and Tara's tour guide! One of these days, for sure!

    Have a super week, my friend. And again, CONGRATULATIONS on your new home!!!!!

    X to you and Tara

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  7. Oh Ron, what a FUN post! And I'm with you, Manhattan is my all-time favorite Woody Allen film. Diane Keaton was HILARIOUS! I love anything she does.

    So glad that you were able to ride the tramway again. I've never done that when I've been in New York, but you've got me curious to try it the next time I'm there.

    Great photographs! What a beautiful view from the top!

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  8. http://ladyfi.wordpress.comJune 10, 2019

    Yikes - that tramway looks high up. But what fun shots. I love the different perspective you get when high up. And the island looks delightful.

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  9. Hey there Candice! Isn't Manhattan a brilliant film? I also love, Annie Hall!!! And I agree...I love ANYTHING that Diane Keaton does. She's freaking hysterical! I loved her in "Something's Gotta Give" with Jack Nicholson. The two of them together were pure perfection!

    Next time you're in NYC, ride the tramway because it's great for taking photographs and it's very inexpensive. It's the price of a subway ride.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have an awesome week!
    X

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  10. Me too, Fiona! I love the different perspective you get when you're high up; especially in a city like NY because you get a birds-eye view!

    I can't wait to go back sometime this summer and investigate the island more.

    Have a super week, my friend. And thanks so much for stopping by!
    X

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  11. Wow Ron, these pictures are awesome! I've always had a love/hate relationship with heights. They scare the living crap out of me, but I also find myself wanting to experience them.

    That final shot of under the bridge ROCKS!

    Glad you were able to visit the tramway again because I got to experience through your eyes.

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  12. Oh, my, does that tram take you over WATER?? I think I'd be okay with the height -- it's the "plunging to your death" over water I'd hate, ha!!


    What a glorious day for a return visit, Ron. Clear and a bit cool sounds perfect for sight-seeing -- and you have provided us a most interesting post here. I've never been to Manhattan Since I'm terrified to drive in Chicago, imagine how nervous I'd be behind the wheel in NYC!!


    Thank you for taking me along on your jaunts, my friend. Have a great workweek! xo

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  13. Thanks, Matt! Me, too..I feel EXACTLY the same way about heights. I find the older I get though, they don't bother as much. My father was deathly afraid of heights and always said so' therefore, I think a picked up his fear as a kid.

    Isn't that bridge cool? I love how rustic it looks.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a great rest of your week!
    X

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  14. HAHAHAHA! Debbie, your first sentence within your comment made me LOL! And yes...the tram DOES take you over WATER. Can you imagine those passengers back in 2005 and 2006 who were suspended over that water for all that time before being rescued?!?!

    Yes, I couldn't have asked for a more perfect "weather" day, it was flawless. I'll be going into NYC a lot the rest of June, however, once the mid-July heat and humidity hits, I won't be going nearly as much. I love NYC, however, summer is horrible there.

    I too would be afraid to drive in NYC. WAY too much speeding traffic and congestion for me to sit behind the wheel of a car. That's why I take the bus in and use only public transportation when I'm there.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a great rest of your week! I can't believe it's already Wednesday.

    X

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  15. Oh Ron, seeing these pictures brought back memories for me of when I first rode the tramway. It had to of been in the 80's, not long after it opened. I remember being scared of out my mind too. I went with a girl I worked with at the time. We were both scared LOL!

    What great photographs you captured of what it looks like since its renovation. Every time you post about New York, you make me miss it.

    I love all these pics, but my faves are the final one and the ones directly over the East River. I also love the comparison images of the movie, Manhattan!

    Hope you're enjoying the cooler weather we've been getting. X

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  16. "I remember being scared of out my mind too. I went with a girl I worked with at the time. We were both scared LOL!"

    Elaine, that's how I was the first time I rode it as well. I was much more afraid of heights back then. Also, I clearly remember how the cabin moved a lot while we were crossing to Roosevelt Island. This time, however, it barely moved.

    As you know, I LOVE NYC, so every time I go I come back missing it more and more. Going there gives me so much inspirations.

    "Manhattan" is one of my favorite W.A. films, so I had to take a few pictures and combined the movie location with the present. I should have taken the pics from the Manhattan side though :(

    Yes, I am soooooooooooooooo enjoying this cooler weather for as long as we get it because I know that eventually it's going to get VERY hot and humid.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, and have a great rest of your week!
    X

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  17. Outstanding photographs, Ron! I especially like the last one under the Queensboro Bridge, it's striking. In all the times I've ever visited New York, I have never rode the Roosevelt Island Tramway. But the next time I'm there, which I'm hoping will be the summer, I will make a point of doing that. High heights have never bothered me. As a matter of fact, the higher the better. LOL!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  18. Thank you, Daniel ! :) I took so many pictures that day. I still have a lot that I haven't even going thorough and edited. I walked around the city a lot that day, and a lot of different areas. I'll be sharing those later on.

    OMG...if you like heights, you will LOVE the tramway. Not only the height, but the views from the 3 minute trip over, are amazing!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have an awesome rest of your week!
    X

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  19. Ron, it's funny about Woody Allen films, people either seem to love them, or hate them. I guess his sense of humor is not for everyone. But I love it!

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  20. Elaine, you are absolutely right about that! People either love his movies or hate them. To me, his sense of humors funny because it's played serious, which makes it HILARIOUS! I just recently saw "Blue Jasmine" with Cate Blanchett and freaking LOVED it! She was so wonderful in it. It's probably my favorite role of hers. Now that movie was both funny AND serious.

    I think Woody Allen is a genius!

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  21. Fascinating! I loved the photos and history of the island and tram. I love pics of the bridge most of all....what an architectural engineering marvel! But, as much as I love your areal photos from the tram, my favorite pic is the last one...love the composition of the whole shot. i think I just love it all!

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  22. Me too, Lisa! I love the history of things. That's why I'm particularly drawn to documentaries and biographies.

    "what an architectural engineering marvel!"

    Right? And when you think about how long ago that bridge was constructed, the architecture is mind-blowing. And the fact that it's still standing!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have an awesome weekend!
    X

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  23. Rob LenihanJune 14, 2019

    Ron, these are terrific photos!

    I took the tram exactly once in my life many years ago and, due to my, uh, concerns about heights, I had my heart in my mouth the whole time. In fact, I took the subway on Roosevelt Island when I was going home.

    I was going to take the tram to Roosevelt Island a few weeks ago, but the island was hosting a Cherry Blossom festival and there was a line of people waiting to get on that stretched down to Third Avenue. I almost went home, but luckily I met two guys in my Meetup group and we agreed to take the train instead.(which was no picnic either with the crowds!)

    I love Roosevelt Island because, in addition to the history, you feel like you're far away from the city even though you can clearly see Manhattan on one side and Queens on the other. And the tram has been the scene of several movies including Spiderman and some action flick with Sylvester Stallone.

    Great post, buddy! Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful photos!

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  24. Thank you, Rob! :) I took so many pictures while I was on the tram, that I didn't know if any of them would turn out. I also used both my phone camera and my Canon camera (alternating them), so had to shoot fast.

    Yes, I had read something about the Cherry Blossom festival (I think is was sometime in April?). I bet it was so beautiful! And I can only imagine how CROWED it must have been, not only on the island, but also on the tramway. I only just discovered that you could take a subway there because I noticed a subway station on the island that day. I never knew that before?!?

    "...in addition to the history, you feel like you're far away from the city even though you can clearly see Manhattan on one side and Queens on the other."

    OMG...isn't the view from the island magnificent? It's like the view from Jersey City because you can see Manhattan in all its glory!

    " And the tram has been the scene of several movies including Spiderman and some action flick with Sylvester Stallone."

    Sooooooooooo cool! I never knew that!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a terrific weekend!
    X

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  25. David PetroJune 18, 2019

    Hey Ron, as usual great shots. Better you then me, if I was in that glass box swaying in the breeze my depends would be so full that a case of Glade would not help. The car would have to removed fumigated and then decommissioned. I guess you now know that I do not like heights at all. Even getting high gives me a nosebleed.
    But the trip, through your lens was breath taking, Thanks - Dave

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  26. Helloooooooooooooooo Dave! Always just a delight to see your comments!

    " Better you then me, if I was in that glass box swaying in the breeze my depends would be so full that a case of Glade would not help. The car would have to removed fumigated and then decommissioned. "

    Bwhahahahahahaha! OMG, that cracked the hell up, man! You are hilarious!

    Yeah, it's funny because I'm normally deathly afraid of heights, yet over the years it's gotten less. I mean, I still don't LOVE heights, but I don't freak out the way I used to.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my Libra friend! Hope all is well and that you're enjoying the summer!

    X

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