Birds of Inwood - Visit Teri's new blog about birds!

Birds of Inwood - Visit Teri's new blog about birds!
A visual journey exploring the birds of Inwood and Northern Manhattan

The East River and Roosevelt Island Walk, Part Three: The Renwick Ruins, or, The Smallpox Hospital

Tour Guide Narration: Known as the Renwick Ruins, in honor of architect James Renwick, the architect of St. Patrick's Cathedral and Grace Church, the crumbling edifice of the 1854 Smallpox Hospital at the southern end of Roosevelt Island looks much like the picturesque Gothic ruins of England. The Gothic Revival structure, granted the status of Landmark Site by the Landmarks Preservation Committee in 1975 on the basis of its picturesque ruination, is now undergoing a $4 million stabilization process in order to stem the tide of accelerating decay. There are no plans to restore the building and admit new smallpox patients.

When I came upon the sight of the ruins on my walk, I was indeed transported into a nineteenth-century state of the picturesque. I look forward to returning to the ruins with a drawing set and some watercolors. As I was leaving, I spotted many squirrels, birds, and a wild black cat frolicking amidst the decay.

The Renwick Ruins fall within the future site of Southpoint Park, a currently undeveloped area resplendent with the raw verdant energy of grass and wildflowers. While all is wild and beautiful beyond the ruins at the southernmost tip, efforts to build architect Louis Kahn's FDR memorial on the site could change all that. Strong opinions coming in a post ahead.

Images: The Renwick Ruins, Roosevelt Island. by Walking Off the Big Apple, June 5, 2008.

See Part One (about the East River unpleasantness on the Manhattan side) and Part Two (The Tram ride) of this self-guided walking tour of New York, The East River and Roosevelt Island Walk.

More images at Flickr WOTBA (with a sneak preview of more to come in the north part of Roosevelt Island).


  1. Anonymous9:12 AM

    Hello there, Teri Tynes of NYC - here is old Patricia W checking into your blog ! Love the old building - looks VERY Thomas Hardyish (or whoever else wrote in that time period). Big news from here is that I lost your email and street address when my laptop got lifted from my office this past week. Can you try to send it to me again. Thanks mucho, Patricia

  2. Hi..someone posted a link to this website on TripAdvisor and WOW... I've been on it all day... awesome info, thanks. Just wondering how long you'd say it takes to get a good look at Roosevelt Island?? I know we all do things at a different pace but having been there... do you think 2 hours? 5 hours??

  3. Hi Larn. Welcome to Walking Off the Big Apple! I think you can easily walk around Roosevelt Island in an hour. You can see the island quickly if you take the bus that meets the tram on the island. The bus mainly goes to the more inhabited north part and Main Street. I think it still only costs 25 cents. You'll need to walk to the south part to see the Renwick Ruins, but it's a short walk and worth it. The views of Manhattan from the new park are exceptional. Of course, the short exciting tram ride is worth the trip.


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