Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do...but how much love we put in that action
- Mother Teresa
Love begins by taking care of the closest ones - the ones at home.
- Mother Teresa
"Are there lilac trees...They don't bother me...
Discovering the history of your neighborhood is a fun hobby. Trying to find everything historical about where you live can be fun and informative. There are few few books on where we live. There was one written by the President of the Historical Society. It is a small, paperback, end-table book. Lots of great photographs, but limited information.
Here are some of the facts about where I live:
1. Had 3 different names in history
2. The land was purchased by NYC for $32,000
3. The land had a penitentiary built on it in 1832
4. The land once had a lunatic asylum
5. It has a Landmark Church (Chapel) and a lighthouse
6. Mae West and Billie Holiday served time in the prison
7. Popular in literature and films
This is Roosevelt Island (aka Blackwell Island and Welfare Island) which lies between the isle of Manhattan to the west and the borough of Queens to the east. It is 2 miles long and has a maximum width of 800 feet giving it a total acreage of 147. Roosevelt Island is part of the Borough of Manhattan. When we moved there we were able to keep our 212 area code which is important to me after all my years in the Big Apple. This phone number has traveled with me to many a location within the island of Manhattan.
I love the architectural history and new architecture which continues at the southern tip of the island in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedoms Park. Prior to 1955, individuals who lived on the island stopped in the middle of the Queensborough Bridge (now the Ed Koch Queensborough Bridge) to take an elevator down to Roosevelt Island. From our terrace I can see where the passengers departed from and where they stepped down on the island. The connection between Astoria and R.I. was made possible by a bridge in 1955. In The Bicentenial Year, 1976, the Roosevelt Island Tramway was opened. It has been remodeled within the last 2 years. In 1989, the MTA Subway finally made it to the island via 63rd Street/Lexington on the F line (orange) It is one of the deepest in New York City's subway system.
There is a Roosevelt Island (R.I.) bus (the Red Bus) which is the shuttle service. It cost only 25 cents and 10 cents for seniors. Now that is classic.
To this day, films are still shot on location on the island. From our terrace we saw the latest Batman film and the Bat helicopter flying overhead. There is much more history. Spiderman once saved the tram in a film.
The best aspect of the island for us is the peace and serenity it offers from a busy Manhattan Day at the offices. I love the East Side skyline from south to north. I admire the many boats that sail down the river. Every time there is a tugboat I close my eyes and picture, Barbara Streisand as Fanny Brice singing in the film, Funny Girl.
Most of all I appreciate our garden terrace. Now this is serenity. I am blessed every single day. My view of the Cherry Blossom trees in April along the East River on Roosevelt Island is spectacular.The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura" is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages. The individual responsible for orchestrating the trees was initially from Ms Eliza R Scidmore. Her initial correspondence to the new first lady, Helen H. Taft on April 7,1909 started the History of Cherry Trees. The very next day on April 8, 1909 ( by coincidence- although there is never a coincidence) Mr Miidzuno - Japanese consult in New York was in Washington DC An additional 2,000 trees were donated. Perhaps this is how Roosevelt Island got its Cherry Blossoms
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Japanese gift of Cherry Trees which Washington DC is now famous for, a new selection was developed. It is called the 'Helen Taft' cherry tree. This is a cross between two cherry blossoms Yoshiko and Taiwan. I am sure next we will see the Lady Bird Cherry Blossom tree as she accepted more Cherry Blossoms during her husband's term (Lyndon B Johnson)