Tuesday, February 26, 2008

So, You're Thinking of Moving To Roosevelt Island and Worried About Dark Water. Read This First.

Image of Octagon Building from Urban Baby Daily

You Tube video of Manhattan Park from Roosevelt Island 360

Image of Main Street buildings from Forgotten-NY

Image of Riverwalk buildings from NY Times

I often meet people who when they learn that I live on Roosevelt Island ask if it is really as creepy and spooky as portrayed in the Jennifer Connelly movie Dark Water. I usually respond with a definitive "it depends".
If you are thinking of moving to Roosevelt Island don't worry about Dark Water, but this recent message thread on Live Journal describing life on Roosevelt Island represents a point of view worth considering. The thread began:
Roosevelt Island?
I checked the tags but couldn't find anything about Roosevelt Island. Can anybody give me any testimonial information about living there?
Some responses:
I live at The Octagon which is at the north tip of the island, the furthest stop on the red bus.

I'm currently in negotiations to break my lease because I want to get out of here that fast. I've lived here for 2 years, basically since it opened. The first year I had a car so it was easier if I wanted to pick something up to eat, or goto the store since I could just hop in my car and drive over the bridge to Queens where there is tons and tons of shopping on Steinway.

There is nothing here. The Gristedes is DISGUSTING. I really mean it... you should go there and check it out... my favorite place is near the dairy, it actually smells like shit so they put an air freshener there to make it smell a little better. Not to mention in the summer or maybe early fall when I was in there I heard the manager say right in front of me and other customers "Wow, I really can't believe we passed that health inspection!" Since that day I have not shopped there.

Food shopping here is very bad, unless you are the kind of person who can buy every kind of food you want at Duane Reade, but otherwise you'll have to take a subway or the Tram over to Manhattan and lug your stuff back. That is especially fun since you will get to carry it on the red bus and then everyone will give you dirty looks!

Pick up an issue of The Main Street wire, there's an on going battle between residents here and it's pretty stupid and annoying, people bitch here on a daily basis and the atmosphere is a little dismal to me. You can bank on someone bitching about the red bus daily, each way you go to work and it kind of wears you down a bit.

The food options here are pretty weak, very weak. The diner, Trellis, doesn't really have the best food and for what it is I would say it's a little over-priced. There's a chinese food place, too and not just recently in the last month a Italian/Pizza place which is pretty good. Sometime you can order food from Queens but not very many places deliver.

Be prepared for it to take you about 45min/an hour to get home, be prepared to deal with the crappy red bus, the occasional Manhattan bound train not running or the occasional Queens bound train not running (which makes it hard to get somewhere or go home either way).

I do not like living here, obviously, but from what I hear living in the new buildings near the Tram is a real pleasure - they live above a Duane Reade, the pizza place, soon a Japanese restaurant, a Starbucks, and I think some kind of salon as well. Living there would take away from the extra 15/20 minutes tacked on to your daily commute for waiting for the bus and for it slowly crawling up and down the Island.

Otherwise, I would strongly strongly urge you to really check it out before you move here. This is the right place for some people but for people like me who like to go out and be able to goto 20 different restaurants outside of my apartment within walking distance this is NOT the place us.
... I lived in Manhattan Park for a year, and while our apartment was amazing, I had to split a 3br between 5 people to afford it lol. Our view was incredible, but I cant imagine living there again. The gristedes was the bane of my existence. They're horrible, rude people and always out of everything. And Fresh Direct is ok but like the above poster said, there's something to be said for having the ability to actually walk into a grocery store. Also there's nothing more depressing than spending 45 minutes getting home only to have a 15 minute walk ahead of you or take your chances waiting for the red bus, which never runs on any kind of schedule. I dunno if you're much into the night life, but when all your drunk ass wants do is just crawl into bed and that daunting commute is ahead of you, it's really depressing hahha.
Though also like the above poster said, if you managed to get into one of the places by the subway that'd solve a lot of your problems. I do miss my amazing view, jogging around the island was really nice, and the tram was always good fun. But for day to day livability it's a little isolated.
Opinions vary, different people like different things. Remember Italy loves Roosevelt Island.
After 6 months of life on R.I. I still believe that this place is the best place to live in NYC. No doubts about it.

... P.S.
Despite the bus, R.I. is still the best place in NYC
My opinion from earlier post when I was considering the classic Clash question "should I stay or should I go" concerning Roosevelt Island and ultimately decided to stay and move to Riverwalk:
... There are many attractive benefits to living at either Manhattan Park or the Octagon on Roosevelt Island. Both have gorgeous waterfront locations with great views of Manhattan and beautiful green park grounds each with adjacent swimming pools as well as an outdoor tennis court facility and ball fields. However close proximity to Manhattan with access to any city life amenity is not one of those benefits. At Manhattan Park there is at least a significant Roosevelt Island discount, as compared to Manhattan, on rent but that is not the case at the Octagon.

The moral of this story is that if living within 15-20 minute walk of a movie theater, bookstore, museum, good restaurant, bar, nightlife and the buzz of the city is very important to you then perhaps the Octagon and Manhattan Park are not the right place for you to live, but Riverwalk may be. If the benefits of tranquility and recreational activities described above are more important and/or you have small children, then Manhattan Park and Octagon would be great places to live.
I think this is a reasonably fair summary of life on Roosevelt Island. Dark Water, it's not- Maybe.


Anonymous said...

The only reason to live on Roosevelt Island is that it is only a few minutes from Manhattan, but affordable. Without affordability, the island, as it is, would be a total, rather than a partial, failure. There is no reason to live in Manhattan Park (too expensive for the dollhouse-size rooms) or the Octagon -- even more isolated and expensive.

You would be better off in a real neightborhood in Brooklyn or Queens, for the same money. I deeply regret that I didn't get away when I could. I'm too old to now, and I'll probably spend the rest of my life here. I guess that's another good reason to live here: everything (as little as there is) is "accessible."

Anonymous said...

The real moral is check it out before you move in. How could the first 2 posters, who are so into accessibility to movie theaters, restaurants,etc. have moved in without knowing those things aren't available. Those of us who live in the original buildings can walk to the subway or the tram so the transportation issue is not a problem for us. And these posters apparently don't have kids - it's a great place for them, plenty of playgrounds and very little worry about security. But the biggest surprise of this post is that people actually saw "Dark Water"!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
YetAnotherRIer said...

I have been living here for many, many years in Manhattan Park and I raised three children here. I do not agree with you that a stroller should be allowed unfolded on the bus during rush hours. You have other means to get home. The  once in a while weather conditions happen, true, but they don't happen every day nor so often that it is a real issue. You get wet. And your child maybe. Or you get a raincoat with hood for you and your walking children.

I agree with you about the elevator. At one time I saw a mob of people not letting an older woman get out of the elevator. I had to make room and lost my spot and had to take the next elevator. People can be animals at times when it comes to their oh so precious convenience. Oh, and I love the people that actually run to the elevator and push others out of the way. In all fairness, though, this is not a Roosevelt Island issue. It is even worse at the 63rd St/Lex Ave elevator.

Frank Farance said...

In my younger days three decades ago, many of us hoped that we could "move up" to Manhattan: more stores, entertainment, etc.. Back then it was just the WIRE buildings, the tram, and the Q102.  But now I'm really glad I'm here and want to stay.  Having children changed my perspective: this is one of the best places in NYC to raise children (sorry Park Slope).  I like the campus-like feeling of the Island, much better than a grid of high rises or a street of multifamily row houses.

I've said this a good number of times, the red bus is what makes/breaks the cohesiveness of the four developments (Oct, MP, NT, ST).  So living in Octagon with an unreliable red bus is a real problem (I've worked on fixing that).  Likewise, having children (for me twins) in a stroller when the sidewalks are full of snow means I'm dependent upon the red bus.  Not to mention, a unfolded stroller is the fastest way to board the red bus (a convenience for *everyone else*), and it is the safest, too (the child is in a 5-point harness).

[I don't want to steal Mr. Katz's thunder because he will be reporting this in his column in the WIRE next week ...] Yesterday, we (Mr. Katz, RIRA President; Mr. Hamburger, RIRA Island Services Committee Chair; and myself RIRA Planning Committee Chair) met with RIOC on the red bus, we've met several times over the past year.  We were able to get agreement with RIOC on (1) stroller policy on the red bus, (2) a red bus stop at Southpoint, (3) a Q102 stop at Southpoint.  The Southpoint stops will probably start in the spring after the MTA does its planning work on the location of the curb (across from the park entrance) and where the curb cut is placed.  The Q102 and red bus stops will be incorporated into the regular route.

The stroller policy also includes people with shopping carts (many of them are seniors), and also includes other large items.  In short, it will be up to the driver's discretion as to whether or not an unfolded (open) stroller can be carried safely and conveniently.  The policy will be summarized on a sign in the red bus and available in full detail on the RIOC web site.

I hope this stops the negative looks some parents receive.  It's nice to be neighborly.

YetAnotherRIer said...

"In short, it will be up to the driver's discretion as to whether or not an unfolded (open) stroller can be carried safely and conveniently."

Oy. Is this really a good idea? Why is the "no unfolded strollers during rush hours" such a bad thing? It removes the uncertainty. Imagine you want to board the bus, stroller unfolded, and you are next in line and the driver tells you to fold it. Instant delay and inconvenience. With a fast rule that doesn't allow on the whim decisions you can be at least be prepared. I already can see the discussions between driver and customer trying to convince him/her to let them in.

YetAnotherRIer said...

I agree with you that it would be awesome to have an unfolded stroller on the bus at any time when you need it (but I still wouldn't advocate for it). The problem is, that it can become a problem. Just like the elevators... everybody's got the right to take it and you see what's happening there. Plan your day in a way that the bus and its rules fit in there. Doctor's appointment? Make one at a time where you know you can take the bus. Reschedule if the weather doesn't allow it. Just saying that for most situations there is a plan B. It may not the most convenient one but it will work out just fine.

Frank Farance said...

Yes, the driver has always had discretion, this just enshrines it in a way that passengers are aware.

As for "no unfolded strollers during rush hours", that policy doesn't make sense -- the parent would have to wait three hours for a bus.

With the new policy, if there isn't room on one bus, the stroller could wait for the next bus, which should arrive in 7.5 minutes.  Not too different than wheelchairs when they run out of room on the bus, they wait for the next bus.

As for the discussion with the driver, I doubt it will be an extended discussion over folding or not because if it can't go unfolded on that bus, it's up to the parent to decide to fold it for that bus, or wait for the next bus.  Previously, it was fold it for that bus *and every other bus*, or wait three hours, which is why (I believe) there were extended discussions ... it wasn't about getting on that bus, it was really the worry about having to wait three hours or walk home (which might be impossible/impractical).

Let's see how this works.  If there are problems, we can revisit the policy.

KidKilowatt said...

LOVE both of your posts.  Red bus behavior is astonishing, from the people who refuse to move to the back of the bus to the able-bodied morons standing in front of the church waiting for a bus to take them somewhere they could reach on foot in 4 minutes.  And the elevators, don't get me started.  I should start a blog where I post videos of losers trying to out-maneuver the elderly and young children to get a spot on the elevator.  This is how low I've sunk:  One of my favorite hobbies is to catch an F train and position myself at the door immediately opposite the elevator, and then walk as slowly and deliberately as I can while the losers stuck behind me panic and the other human cockroaches scurry into the elevator ahead of them.  Shameful is definitely the word. 

YetAnotherRIer said...

I love that idea. After so many years of fighting for the elevator I kind of got tired of the rat race and let those people go first. I take the next one. Less stress involved.

CheshireKitty said...

So if it was up to you, no able-bodied person should be allowed to take the bus when they could just walk to the train/tram.  

Why not discontinue the southbound church stop altogether since passengers boarding at that stop ought to be able to walk 4 minutes to the train, and as for the non able-bodied - hey, just too bad, right?  And how many of the non-able bodied can there be getting on at that stop?  Maybe they too should hobble down the street over to the train.  

This way, with one less stop, there's less inconvenience for the folks riding to the train from way up the line.  Isn't this again a replay of the same old Octagon vs. Main St. antagonism of several years ago, which was supposed to have "mellowed" somewhat by now?  

Octagon riders not only have the express bus option, but at least in the case of Kid, when riding the regular bus, they resent having to be delayed by even allowing the "moronic" Main St riders to board en route to transportation.  Kid's attitude only confirms Main St's poor opinion about Octagoners as a pushy, insensitive, and largely transient population, that might very well be better off across the river within the pushy, insensitive, and largely transient population of Manhattan island itself.  Each time one of them  departs RI (to the sound of faint cheers from us "morons") they are never missed. 

KidKilowatt said...

If it were up to me, I'd let people go about their lives, expect them to be courteous, and ridicule them if they weren't.  Need to bring an open stroller on the bus?  Go ahead.  Want to be a lump and stand around waiting for a bus for 15 minutes when you could walk to your destination in 4?  Be my guest, morons.  Need to run so you can beat an old lady to get a spot on the elevator?   Knock yourself out, human cockroaches!

(Also, I don't live in Octagon.)

CheshireKitty said...

RI was planned as an affordable community in order to lure people to move in.  Anything that gives the "impression" of a real community is encouraged - from the newspaper to the myriad community groups.  However, once the planned "neighborhood" took hold, the affordability was supposed to vanish with the ending of the Mitchell-Lama subsidies/privatization of original buildings.  Then the residents who traded living in a real vs. ersatz community for the low rents would be stuck with all the disadvantages of living on RI plus the same rents people pay in Manhattan or the other boroughs - and then it's no longer a value because of all you give up living here.  

What the planners figured on is exactly an attitude such as yours:  That a certain percentage of the residents of the originally cheap buildings would be lulled into staying even at a higher price because of inertia, or force of habit, and would provide at least a framework/context or some population for the newer population, with all groups, older and newer residents, eventually paying the high rents.  

You are absolutely right that someone considering moving onto RI at the current high rents/prices, would be better off moving to another borough - maybe even Brooklyn - for the same price.  The trade-off of lower rents, convenience to Manhattan, to offset living on a small island with few if any of the life/features of a community,   is no longer available, and anyone who moves here now, if they can find comparable accommodations in relatively convenient areas of Western Queens or Brooklyn or in Upper Manhattan, is absolutely making the wrong move.  

For the many people like Anonymous who have been here for years, it's probably too much trouble and/or too expensive to move out - so the "plan" of the original developers, to create a core, stable population who moved in when prices were cheap, and later raise the prices for everyone, paid off.  

YetAnotherRIer said...

There is a big difference between "not allowing people to take the bus at the church stop" and "making fun of people who wait for a bus longer than it would take them to walk to the subway".

There is a purpose for this stop. Plenty of seniors who just cannot walk to the subway or the tram. The folks that run to a departing bus from the church stop and stopping the driver from leaving instead of using this energy to just walk down south is just plain silly. Sorry you don't see it this way.

CheshireKitty said...

First, the bus usually takes no more than 5 minutes to arrive - and thus usually beats the time it would take to walk to the train from the Chapel stop.  

Secondly, there are plenty of able-bodied people going to business who wait for the bus at both the Deli and Church stops.  Why shouldn't they?  Wasn't the red bus originally put in place to provide transportation for the residents of Main St to the tram as well as the train?

If able-bodied residents are not allowed to use the red bus at the Deli or Church stops, you would be denying the use of the Red bus to most Main St residents - and the last time I checked, Main St still comprises most of the population of RI.  

westviewgirl said...

Thank you Frank !

YetAnotherRIer said...

You still don't seem to understandthis. We are not saying this shouldn't be allowed. Everybody can do whatever they please. We just think it is silly to wait for a bus at a stop that is so close to where you want to go. It's a lot healthier and makes a lot more sense (to people like me( to just walk. I wonder why you are so defensive.

KidKilowatt said...

Mental issues, likely. 

KidKilowatt said...

I only just now noticed that this story was postedin February 2008 andwas revised by ChesireKittyresponding to a *threeyarold* post.  

KidKilowatt said...

I have to say I'll probably keep using the option I've been using: take the bus sometimes, walk other times, and continue to mock people who refuse to move to the back of the bus to make room for others; people who are hostile to children and strollers; and every single young, healthy, non-contributing zero who waits at the Church stop for a bus, who bum-rushes into the F-train elevator, and whose only idea of exercise appears to be the exercise of their inalienable right to not use their increasingly useless legs.

roozevelt said...

The Seniors went to RIOC with this first, and were told they already had plans to fix this.  RIRA, please don't try to take credit for everything good that happens around here.

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CameronRobertson said...

Thanks for sharing your side of the story. Now we have a clearer perspective of what to expect living in Roosevelt, other than a fictional version of it portrayed in 'Dark water'. Overall, I personally will not move there because I would like to have amenities within an arm's length. I often have guests over during the weekends and not having enough supplies to cook for them would be considered very rude. Well, this is also because I don't like to have excessive food up in
because they lose their quality and taste over time. I usually buy groceries on a daily basis or as and when I need them. That is why staying very near a store or supermarket (a hygienic one that is) is very crucial for me and family.

YetAnotherRIer said...

If you read a bit further on this blog you will see that the info you got from this article is 5 years old and the grocery store has improved tremendously (quality and price wise).

BluePotion said...

I cannot believe the condition of the stores! I want to move to RI because I love the feel of it. Manhattan is too hard to get into. I also like the views for the price. However, how could these establishments have so little interest in being the best they can be with the strong desire for people to live in NYC?? I would love to own a Gristedes, I would have it spotless.