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The walk south along Manhattan's East River from Carl Schurz Park and Gracie Mansion in the E. 80s to near the Queensboro Bridge near 59th affords great views of the river and Roosevelt Island to the east, but the traffic fumes from the FDR Highway are enough to jettison this section of the walk altogether. Skip to the chase, and find your way to Roosevelt Island. I say "find your way to Roosevelt Island," because access to the island - by tram, which as of this writing is off line for repairs; by bus, Q102, which involves Queens; and the F train, which involves anxiety - is so limited that the residents could over time develop a unique culture, fashion and language. Watch for the beginnings of this process when the tram shuts down for months in 2009.
Even without the prospect that New York's very own Ile de la Cité could take a different path on the F train to evolution, Roosevelt Island already exudes la difference. I've never seen anything quite like their Main Street. In one section, the modernist Eastwood apartments line the curvy path along the east side of the street, and across is the pretty 19th century Church of the Good Shepherd. Like Eastwood, many of the established apartments buildings on the island date from the mid-1970s. Brand new buildings, such as Riverwalk, just to the north of the tram station, and the spiffy apartments of the Octagon House, the former Lunatic Asylum that's located on the north part of the island, hint at the island's ongoing embourgeoisiement.
The possibilities for the flâneur set here are best enjoyed along the western promenades for the excellent views of Manhattan. The best view of the United Nations complex may be discovered along the southern end of the island, and on the north, don't miss the massive shimmering white facade of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Corner Medical Center across the way. Flâneurs from outside the island will want to make their way back to Main Street for a quaff of a favorite beverage before attempting the voyage home.
See the blog, Roosevelt Island 360, for helpful information, including how to get around.
This post concludes the series of posts on the East River and Roosevelt Island. All the posts on Roosevelt Island here. Also, many more images on Flickr WOTBA at the sets, Roosevelt Island and East River Walk.