Saturday, June 18, 2011

46! + Riding the Roosevelt Island Tram

That annual day has arrived!
Birthday cake!
The delicious strawberry shortcake C made for my birthday!
Birthday cake!
The cake, with candles
Me blowing out the cake!
Me blowing out the candles!


For my birthday I was trying to think of touristy places I'd never visited or things I'd never done (up to a reasonable point, of course) in New York City, and realized that I had done most of the things that would come to mind. I've visited all five boroughs, ridden every subway line, been to City Island, Coney Island, Liberty Island, Ellis Island (which is in New Jersey, of course), and the various beaches, to the two stadiums (the old ones, not the new ones, yet), watched several matches at the National Tennis Center, seen exhibits all the major museums and many of the art galleries, attended many a Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway play, musical and art performance, viewed the City from the Empire State Building and even from the now-gone World Trade Center's observation floor, and I'd even seen (last year!) a dance performance on the site of the former Fresh Kills Land Fill in Staten Island, which meant taking the Staten Island Ferry, always a delight (it's free!) and on and on, but I realized that one thing I've never done is ride the Roosevelt Island Tramway.

Since childhood I've seen it in many a film, had classmates in grad school who took it regularly to teach in the poetry program at Goldwater Hospital, and have wanted to ride it, though I have to admit desire curdled a bit into dread not only after 9/11 but when the tram got stuck in the fall of 2005, and then again in the spring of 2006.  The last place I want to be is suspended for hours, with little reprieve or answers, above the East River. The tram, however, was completely renovated last year, and has been operating quite smoothly, so I thought, why not try it today?  And I did! It's a brief ride, no more than 4 minutes or so--thankfully!--at about 18 mph, so it's almost over before it begins, but when it ascends to its apex, about 250 ft above the East River, with the Queensborough Bridge  to the south and Roosevelt Island and in the distance Queens far below, it feels as if you're climbing into the clouds, and exhilaration mixes with terror--perhaps sublimity is too strong a word--and even time slows, if only for a few minutes.

I actually did feel a bit of nerves as we powered towards the top of the highest tower, but taking photographs brought instant relief.  Seeing and walking around Roosevelt Island was also enjoyable, and the views of the east side of Manhattan outdo any postcard.  Below are some of my snapshots. The view of the East River must be experienced live, so if you're in New York and have a half-hour or so (the coming, the going, etc.), it's only $2.25 or a standard MetroCard ride. Soar away!
The Queensborough Bridge and the Tram from Manhattan
Before the Roosevelt Island tram leaves
Before the Roosevelt Island Tram leaves Manhattan
Waiting for the tram to depart
The East River from the Roosevelt Island Tram
The East River, looking north
On Roosevelt Island
On Roosevelt Island
A barge on the East River
East River barge
East River and the Upper East Side
Looking north, to the Upper West Side, from Roosevelt Island
The East River and Manhattan's West Side
The East River looking south, from Roosevelt Avenue
Boarding the tram on Roosevelt Island
Boarding the tram on Roosevelt Avenue
The East River from the tram
The East River from the tram
Manhattan from the tram
Approaching Manhattan
Manhattan from the tram
The east side of Manhattan
The Queensborough roadway from the Roosevelt Ave. tram
Queensborough Bridge on-ramp and the east side of Manhattan
York Ave. from the tram
York Avenue, seen from the tram
Queensborough Bridge
The Queensborough Bridge
Queensborough Bridge entrance from the tram
Cars entering the Queensborough Bridge
2nd Ave. from the air
2nd Avenue from the air

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