Friday, January 9, 2009

Things To Do This Weekend in New York City & Roosevelt Island - Bull Riding, No Pants Subway Ride, Rare Central Park Walk and Roosevelt Island Tour

You Tube Video of No Pants NYC Subway Ride 2007

Looking for fun things to do on Roosevelt Island or in some other part of New York City this weekend? Here are some suggestions.

Tonight and through Sunday, mosey on down to Madison Square Garden and watch the Professional Bull Riders show their stuff in the Toughest Sport on Dirt.
...New Yorkers will once again be treated to unique sights and sounds - 700 tons of dirt ... the top 45 bull riders ... and the rankest 2,000 pound bulls in the world!
On Saturday afternoon, Free NYC recommends participating in the 8th Annual No Pants Subway Ride. Organized by Improv Everywhere, the participatory No Pants Subway Ride works as follow:
... Sit in the car as you normally would. Read a magazine or whatever you would normally do. Your team leader will have already divided you into smaller groups, assigning your group a specific stop where you will depants. Sit near your group.

As soon as the doors shut at the stop before yours, stand up and take your pants off and put them in your backpack. If you’d like to use a briefcase, purse, grocery bag, or whatever instead of a backpack that’s fine too. You are responsible for your own pants and they should be with you at all times. If anyone asks you why you’ve removed your pants, tell them that they were “getting uncomfortable” (or something along those lines.)...
On Sunday, take a tour of Central Park's Hallet Sanctuary.
Hallet Unlocked Central Park's only nature preserve will be opened for your enjoyment. Learn about its history and enjoy some special birding as we peruse its paths. Location: Central Park: Meet at Gapstow Bridge More Information: (212) 628-2345
Hallet Nature Sanctuary:
...was originally set aside as a bird sanctuary in 1934, went through a long period of neglect, but was then restored in the 1980's. This four acre plot of land is bounded on three sides by the Pond and is only yards away from the bustle of Central Park South and the Plaza Hotel some fifty feet above. Yet here can be found an amazing array of migratory birds that stop by for visit on their way either north or south, as well as many year round residents such as bluejays and woodpeckers. You can also find rabbits, raccoons and woodchucks.
On Roosevelt Island this weekend, the Farmers Market will be open as usual on Saturday as is Gallery RIVAA, the Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association which is exhibiting the Winter of Change group show. Also, RIOC has produced a great self guided tour map (PDF File) of Roosevelt Island for any visitor or resident looking to stroll the Island and learn something more about it.

Good weekend transportation news. The MTA is reporting normal Roosevelt Island F Train subway service in both directions and RIOC is not reporting any Tram service advisories either.

Check out some other ideas on what to do in New York City this weekend from the NY Times Urban Eye, NY Post Weekend Calendar and Newyorkology.

Winter Semester of Island Kids Begins Next Week - Offering Classes For Infants and Older Children

The Winter semester of Roosevelt Island's Island Kids begins next week. According to their web site:
Island Kids has its roots in a playgroup started in the early 80's by a group of parents committed to bringing the Roosevelt Island parenting community together. Today, Island Kids strives to support family and community by offering daytime classes for infants to four year olds and afternoon and evening classes for older children and adults. Sessions are 45 minutes to 1 hour long and include mother and baby support groups, music classes in Spanish and English, creative play for toddlers and babies, and science and cooking classes just to name a few. Island Kids stands firm in its mission to serve the entire Roosevelt Island Community and therefore offers scholarships to those who might otherwise not be able to participate in our programs.
Island Kids motto is:
Where Children and Parents Make Friends For Life.
Pretty good motto. If you are interested in enrolling your child in Island Kids, they can be contacted here.

Roosevelt Island Gang Awareness Summit On Monday January 12 at 7PM With Gang Expert Ron Cook Barrett

Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Addressing the RIRA Common Council

Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Keith Guerra, together with one of his officers and a member of the NYPD, attended the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council meeting last Wednesday night. Mr. Guerra informed the RIRA Council about the upcoming Gang Awareness Summit scheduled for Monday night and encouraged all Roosevelt Island adults to attend so they can learn to spot indications of gang activity that may be affecting their children or a neighbor's child.

In response to questioning from RIRA delegates, Mr. Guerra emphasized he would not characterize the situation as a gang "problem" but that there were gang "issues" on Roosevelt Island. These issues will be discussed at the Summit and only adults will be admitted to the summit. Below is the RIOC flyer announcing the Gang Awareness Summit.
More information on subject is available at NYS Gang Prevention.

You Tube Video of Ron Cook Barrett on What We Can Do

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Roosevelt Island Helicopter Noise - What About the Late Night Helicopter Search Lights?

You Tube video of helicopter flying over Roosevelt Island

In response to this NY Times City Room article concerning Upper West Siders complaining about noise coming from overhead helicopters, one Roosevelt Island resident commented (#12):
Try living on Roosevelt Island, where overhead there is a daily barrage of police, traffic & commercial helicopters, seaplanes, regular aircraft and who knows what else.

The noise is unbearable, particularly when they fly low and slow, and frankly, it is incredible that even after the Cory Lytle “plane into building” episode, that the traffic is unregulated and worse than ever.

Shame on anyone and everyone who cannot control this menace.
The helicopter noise does not bother me, although I understand the complaint and recognize that people have different sensitivities to noise. I do wonder sometimes about what is going on when there is late night or early morning helicopter activity over Roosevelt Island and Long Island City, particularly when the high beam search lights are being flashed on the Keyspan's Big Alice plant.

Image from helicopter flying over Roosevelt Island from Viator

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Angel Food Ministries Home Food Delivery Service Comes To Roosevelt Island With Affordable Meals For All

You Tube Video of Angel Food Ministries Program

Gristedes and Fresh Direct may have some low cost competition in the Roosevelt Island grocery food business from a couple of Monroe Georgia Pastors and The Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA). RIDA is the local sponsor of a new Roosevelt Island monthly food delivery service from an organization called Angel Food Ministries that will provide low cost meals to all residents, regardless of income, who sign up for their services. According to their web site:
Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing grocery relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States. The program began in 1994 with 34 families in Monroe, Georgia (between Atlanta and Athens), and has grown to serve hundreds of thousands of families every month across 35 states...
The way the service works is that once a month a menu is distributed with a deadline for ordering and a pick up location. The January menu is located below and includes pricing as well as item information.

Selections include a $30 regular box which Angel Ministries says will provide:
enough food for a family of four for about a week
and a $28 senior/convenience box of:
ten perfectly seasoned, nutritionally balanced, fully cooked meals - just heat and serve
as well as Specials.

Sample menu items include:
  • New Orleans Style Chicken
  • Grilled Chicken Strips & Penne Pasta and
  • Beef & Bowtie Pasta among others
The deadline for January orders is January 11. More ordering information is available here.

Note that although Angel Ministries describes itself as a non profit, non-denominational organization it has a particular religious component that is included in each order. According to their web site:
... Angel Food Ministries crosses denominational lines and has spread the good news of the gospel of Christ through salvation tracts that are placed in each food order....
UPDATE - 1/8 - From RIDA:
To all RI residents, in regardes to Angelfood orders.
The Roosevelt Island Disable Association is a 501c not for profit organization whose only interest is helping families on RI.

We will not be placing any literature in any of the food orders that are placed with us. We are grateful to AF to provide Roosevelter Islanders to save money each month on their food purchases.

Jim Bates

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Roosevelt Island Coat Drive A Great Success!

The Roosevelt Island Winter Coat Drive was a great success. Judy Berdy of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society sends in the following update.
Dear Island Friends and Neighbors:

When we found out that New York Cares needed more coats to meet their goal, the RIHS placed a bin in our kiosk to collect coats. RIOC loaned us the bin and placed our flyers on the red buses.
In our two weekends we filled the bin and now there are 37 more coats added to the collection. Thanks to RIPSD the coats will be delivered to NYCares along with many more coats left at their office.
Hopefully more New Yorkers will now have a warmer winter. Thanks to our neighbors, RIOC and RIPSD for your rapid response.

Roosevelt Island Girl Scouts Seeking Adult Troop Leaders - Meeting Wednesday January 7

A training session for prospective Roosevelt Island Girl Scout leaders will be held on Wednesday, January 7 at PS/IS 217. (6:30-9:30 PM)

According to the Girl Scouts Council of Greater New York:
Volunteers meet new friends, become mentors, acquire new skills, gain professional development opportunities through training, give back to the community and make meaningful contributions to the lives of our girls. Whatever your interest or the time your schedule permits, the Council needs your experience and energy to serve the increasing number of girls who are or wish to be Girl Scouts.
Here is the Winter 2009 NYC Girl Scout newsletter - The Leader Reader (PDF File).

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....

Creepy Spirits Scare the Crap Out of Visitor to Roosevelt Island's Former Lunatic Asylulm at the Octagon Rental Building

Image of 1897 Octagon Lunatic Asylum from nyc10044

Blogger Melissa Bastian travels the length of the F train subway line from Jamaica Queens to Coney Island Brooklyn with a stop at Roosevelt Island to do some exploring. She visits the former Roosevelt Island lunatic asylum that is now the Octagon rental building noting that Charles Dickens and Nelly Bly wrote about the asylum as a place of suffering and horror.

Her first impression of the new and improved Octagon residential building was:
... The architects really did do a wonderful job of restoring the structure; the building itself is indeed quite beautiful, with a spiral staircase winding around the perimeter of the atrium....
But then came her Dark Water moment when the spirits and ghosts of Roosevelt Island come alive.
... At first the space felt like most newly constructed spaces feel - sort of vacant and dead. But then, all of a sudden, a wave came over me - of panic, of fear, of Very Bad Things. I looked around, and the lobby was still as calm and unremarkable as could be. But this energy was surging through me with a force that made me feel as if I might fall down. I collected Sarah and got the hell out.

We crossed the street to a little area with benches and a sundial, and it took me several minutes of sitting and breathing to collect myself. Now, I am not one to go in for a lot of heebee jeebee mumbo jumbo. But I have this thing with places. I suppose the best way to explain it is that I believe in energy; that a place can be infused with the energies of its occupants if those energies are strong enough, good or bad, and that the traces can last long past their actual presence. I know it sounds a little goofy, and maybe I just watched The Shining too many times when I was a kid. But I've felt many things in many places, and never in my life have I felt anything like that. And I lived in New Orleans for chrissake. Granted, I went in knowing the history of the place, but it certainly isn't what I was thinking of at the time. I was thinking about how pretty it was, and the nice weather, and how yuppies like to live in expensive places with tennis courts. And it just hit me out of nowhere, like a sickness. Whatever it was that happened in there, it is not an experience I have any desire to repeat...
The Dark Water movie was filmed at the Eastwood (now re-named Roosevelt Landings by the new owners, Urban America) buildings not the Octagon but the spirits inhabiting Roosevelt Island may be all over the place. Remember the Encampment?

You Tube Video of Dark Water trailer

A reader points out a 4 bedroom/flexible 5 bedroom apartment available at Roosevelt Landings on Craigslist for $4125 a month. No word on whether that includes the spooky spirits though.

This 2007 NY Times City Room item has more on whether Roosevelt Island is haunted.
Recently renovated as a pricey apartment building named “Octagon,” tenants may find that their new apartments have “squatters.” In a May 2006 segment on “Paula Zahn Now” on CNN, reporter Allen Chernoff noted the eerie coincidence that, on the day that the Octagon reopened, the Roosevelt Island tram to Manhattan broke down. Additionally, pet owners observed that some pets refused to walk up stairs in the building. CNN invited in a team of ghost hunters, who claim to have detected several apparitions on their sophisticated equipment.
A Curbed reader may have spotted an Octagon ghost on the spiral staircase during a 2006 visit.

From Curbed:
I took a picture of the stairwell. in the attached photograph (above), you can see that it's still a delightfully maddening spiral, but also i do believe that is a ghost in the upper left corner of the picture. it's the grayish blur near the banister. it's not sunlight from the windows, as you can see that stops in the lower half of the picture. it's not a reflection from my camera's flash, because the surrounding wood would show a gradation of light.