Roosevelt Island Tramway: Transport with Great History

3:58 pm  |  29.03.2022

We all love the constant hustle and bustle on the streets of New York, but – who doesn’t know it – sometimes you just need a break and have to get out of the city. The perfect break can be taken on a small island in the East River that is almost 3 kilometers long.


Located between the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens, Roosevelt Island was formerly used as a shelter due to its isolated location. There was a prison on the island, which is no longer there, and a smallpox hospital opened in 1856.

The History of the Roosevelt Island Tramway

In 1955, the Roosevelt Island Bridge opened, connecting Queens to Long Island City. An elevator then took you to the island. In order to offer more convenience, the city of New York decided to connect Roosevelt Island to the subway. Until completion, the tramway should take over the transport.

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In 1976 the time had come – the Roosevelt Island Tramway started its free service at the time. With the opening of the subway in 1989, an unbelievable fare was introduced: $0.10 (today $3) You can now pay for the crossing with your MetroCard! So if you already have a 7 Day Unlimited MetroCard, the ride is free for you! At the end of 2010, all trams were completely modernized and are now just waiting for you!

Spectacular Views of the East River with the Roosevelt Island Tramway

Spring in New York

If you fancy a trip but don’t want to venture far out of town, Roosevelt Island is the perfect solution for you. It can be reached in the traditional way by subway – the F-Train takes you to the deepest subway station in the city. In our opinion, however, the crossing with the Roosevelt Island Tramway is much more exciting, because the tram offers one of the best views of all public transport in New York.

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At a height of up to 80 meters, you can enjoy a great view over the East River to Manhattan. It was actually only set up as a temporary measure until the connection to the subway was completed. Luckily, the operation was continued – the tramway was simply too popular with the New Yorkers and can also be admired in film classics such as Spiderman!

When you get in, you have the feeling you might know from skiing: you are entering a gondola. Unfortunately, the journey here only takes 4 to 5 minutes. But that’s enough to give you the feeling that you’re on vacation.

Attractions on Roosevelt Island

Chrysler Building

Once you have crossed the East River – by subway or tramway – there is much to discover on Roosevelt Island. The view is definitely our highlight: the Manhattan skyline stretches from the Chrysler Building to the Empire State Building to One World Trade right in front of your eyes.


Roosevelt Island is great for walking and there are plenty of benches along the East River shore to relax on. Those who want more action will find the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association on the island, for example, where you can see art exhibitions, or take advantage of the opportunity to play tennis on one of the sports fields.

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There is also a lighthouse built-in 1872 in the north of the island and in the south you come to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, which was built in honor of the 32nd President of the USA. So the tramway is definitely not the only highlight of the island! There you will also find the Renwick Ruin, an old, disused hospital.

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How Do I Get to Roosevelt Island?

The cable car station is at 59th Street at the height of 2nd Avenue. With the subway, you are only 1 block away. Take the R train to Lexington Av / 59 St or the 4 5 6 trains to the 59 St station.

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