Monday, January 5, 2009

Roosevelt Island Historical Society Photo Exhibit on Roosevelt Island Family Life During Early 20th Century And An Oral History From Former Resident

Biking on Roosevelt Island in early 20th Century
Swimming in East River off of Roosevelt Island in early 20th Century
Both Images of the Effler Family from the Roosevelt Island Historical Society

I received the following press release from the Roosevelt Island Historical Society announcing an exhibit of photographs documenting family life on Roosevelt Island in the early 1900's. The exhibit will be open from January 5- 31 at the Octagon with a reception on Sunday, January 18.


(Roosevelt Island, NY, January 5, 2009) – Imagine living on an island in New York City about 90 years ago, when your grandparent (or great-grandparent) would have been a youngster. The island was not very developed, so there was plenty of open land to stroll with a baby carriage or ride a bicycle. You hosted picnics for your friends and you could swim in the East River!

This is the bucolic way of life captured by 31 photographs displayed in the exhibition Family & Friends: The Effler Family on Blackwell’s Island (1914-1919).

“These photos give a remarkable view of the ordinary life of a family who themselves are an island among the local populations,” said Judith Berdy, President of The Roosevelt Island Historical Society which organized the exhibition. “The Efflers lived here when the Island was populated by more than 2,000 patients in two municipal hospitals and more than 2,500 prisoners in the penitentiary and workhouse. Despite these gloomy surroundings, they had a warm family life with their son and three dogs.”

The photos are part of a family album that was donated to the Society by Donald Effler, the grandson of the Efflers whose family life is richly documented.

At the Reception on Sunday, January 18, there will be special events: a guided tour for children plus a Dog Look-Alike Contest, inspired by the photos of the Effler’s pets: Mike, Vixen and Fluffy.

12 PM Children’s Tour of Exhibit
1 PM General Tour
2 PM Dog Look-Alike Contest
3-6 PM Reception and Refreshments

Supporters of the exhibition include: The Effler Family, Becker + Becker Associates, PRC Management, Mark Chipman and the Roosevelt Island Visual Artists Association. Funding was provided by the Metropolitan Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association.

The FREE exhibition will be on display from January 5 through January 31, 2009 in the lobby of The Octagon, an apartment building located at 888 Main Street. DIRECTIONS: Take the Tram at 59th Street and Second Avenue or the F train to Roosevelt Island. Take the Octagon Local red bus for 25¢ or walk 20-minutes north on Main Street.

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society promotes awareness of our Island’s unique story and pursues preservation of its landmarks and artifacts.
For more information on Roosevelt Island family life in the early part of the 20th century read these remembrances of a woman raised as a child in the 1920's on Roosevelt Island who also later worked in the hospitals here that were published in the March 16, 2000 Main Street WIRE.
Eleanor Schetlin was born in 1920, in the 20th year of her father's employment in the Island's storehouse. Now nearly 80, she treated members of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society and their guests to her luminous memories of her childhood here. She continued to live on Roosevelt Island into the 1950's, working at the Metropolitan Hospital School of Nursing....


RI 360 said...

The photos are amazing. I scanned all of the images for Judy from the original black and whites. It was amusing to see that she chose the three kids on trikes photo as the announcement card photo. There are so many great images in the complete set.