Saturday, December 4, 2010

Roosevelt Island Christmas Trees On Sale At Motorgate Plaza

Are you looking to buy a Roosevelt Island Christmas Tree like Jane, the reader of this 2009 post, who asks when the local Boy Scout troop will start their annual Christmas Tree sale at Motorgate Plaza next to Gristedes?

Is this happening again this year? Anyone know when it starts. Was expecting to see them set up this morning at the farmers market - maybe the Christmas tree lighting just got me too excited too early! ;)
Jane may have looked a bit too early this morning, because I saw the Boy Scouts selling Christmas Trees at Motorgate Plaza this afternoon.

The Roosevelt Island Boy Scout Christmas Trees can be bough Fridays from 6 - 8PM, Saturdays 10 AM - 6 PM, Sundays 1 - 6 PM and Monday December 20 from  6-8 PM.

Also, now that the Tram is back in service, it should be easy to buy a tree at one of the many vendors on Second Avenue and bring it back to Roosevelt Island on the Tram.

Jane is right about the Tree Lighting Ceremony - it was terrific.

and so was Santa

Friday, December 3, 2010

Saturday Night Roosevelt Island Romantic Jewels Concert Presented By Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert Series - Beethoven, Prokofiev, Schuman, Ysaye & It's All Free

This Saturday night our very own local Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert Series will be presenting a free evening of classical music at the Good Shepherd Community Center starting at 8 PM.
R&R Concerts presents

Ralph Allen, violin
Geoffrey Duce, piano

Romantic Jewels
8:00 PM Saturday, December 4, 2010
Good Shepherd Center
543 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, NY

Beethoven: "Spring" Sonata
Prokofiev: Five Melodies
Schumann: Marchenbilder (Fairy Tales)
Ysaÿe: Rêve d'Enfant

Admission is FREE

And on December 18:
The Holiday Concert
Here's a taste of Beethoven's Spring Sonata for violin and piano.

More information on the R&R concert series from previous posts. All reports from previous concerts are that if you go, you will have a great time.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town For The Annual Roosevelt Island Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Tonight & Tomorrow The Roosevelt Island Chanukah Menorah Lighting Ceremony Will Take Place - Can't Take All This Excitement!!!

Can Roosevelt Island residents take any more excitement this week? First, there was the re-opening of the Tram and later this evening comes the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Blackwell Park

Image of 2009 Roosevelt Island Holiday/Christmas Tree At Blackwell House Plaza

with a visit from the Big Man In The Red Suit - Santa Claus
Santa Clause Arrives For 2007 Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting Photo by Alexis Villafane

From RIOC:
You are cordially invited to join the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation at the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. The festivities will take place at Blackwell Plaza on Friday, December 3rd at 7 PM.  Santa will make a special appearance to receive wishes from the Roosevelt Island Community. Join our musical guests as they lead the audience with up-beat carols and a dance-inducing live performance.  Warming winter treats such as hot cider and hot chocolate will also be served.  Kids can look forward to small holiday gifts and a photo with Santa.

Bring your holiday cheer for a celebration you would not want to miss!
More holiday excitement to enjoy Saturday with the Roosevelt Island Public Menorah Lighting Ceremony.


 There will be Music, Hot Latkes and donuts, Hot Drinks, Dreidel’s and Chanukah Gelt and Gifts for everyone starting at 6:30 PM.
Image of Roosevelt Island Chanukah Tram At Riverwalk Landing

My head is spinning from so much Roosevelt Island excitement!!!!!

You Tube Video Of Hannukah Lights

Hopefully, will know soon weather the Roosevelt Island Tram Reindeer Cards will be available for sale this year.

Last, but not least, here's Neil Diamond's version of Adam Sandler's classic Chanukah Song

and Bruce Springsteen's Santa Claus is Coming To Town.

UPDATE 2:25 PM - CNN reports on the lack of good Chanukah songs:
 Face it: Good Hanukkah songs are hard to come by.
For decades, school children performing in holiday concerts have droned on about that dreidel, dreidel, dreidel they've made out of clay....
but here's a new one from the Maccabeats

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Operational Kinks And Minor Glitches Being Worked Out On The New Roosevelt Island Tram System, But It's Still Great To Have It Back In Service - More Scenes From the Tram's Grand Opening Celebration

There are still a few kinks in the new Roosevelt Island Tram system that need to be worked out. A Roosevelt Island resident sent in this video last evening just after 6 PM and is heard asking
Are you sure you want to get on this thing

and reported:
Tram stalled just now.
I followed up a little later asking if it was still stuck and received this reply:
it just was stopped for about 10 minutes, I asked and the operator just said there are still a few kinks in the system.
Some residents also experienced problems on Tuesday's evening commute home, the night of the Grand Opening Celebration (Video of the new Tram's maiden voyage over the East River is here). One Roosevelt Island resident reported:
As an Islander, I am keenly disappointed in my first experience with the new tram.  Shortly after 6:30PM, I boarded the north car which stopped 3 times shortly after leaving the loading dock.  We dangled over 2nd Ave. for a few minutes, then finally, the car resumed moving, but at a truly glacial pace, crawling across the bridge for a journey that probably lasted 12-15 minutes.  The south car was traveling at normal speeds and passed us twice, once in each direction.  It was very tense and uncomfortable for us passengers in the car, which was only exacerbated by the incompetent, ignorant tram operators who had no communication skills whatsoever. They never indicated what was happening, nor why we were traveling at such a slow speed. 
I had truly been looking forward to my first ride back, but RIOC needs to make sure all of these kinks are worked out in the system, and to hire competent, confident tram operators.
Another resident wrote this comment to Tram Service Resumption post:
Does a stoppage make news? this evening at around 6.40 pm, the Island bound cabin came to a sudden halt about 2 tram lengths away from the Manhattan side, actually an emergency stop. Their were two operators in the cabin , along a with about 50% load. The two operators had no clue as to what was going on and even admitted it.They fiddled with controls and were finally told on the radio not to do anything. After a five minute wait, they hit the start button and it lurched to an emergency stop again. Next it was a 10 minute wait with no communication to the passengers. All this time the tram cabin was over 2nd ave. Passengers requested that they return to the dock, which was quite close by. REquests were ignored. (dint we hear that the cabins could move independently ?) The tram then crawled, yes crawled over the river with frightened passengers worried that it would come to a halt again. Still not a word from the operator and his buddy. finally it docked on Roosevelt Island with no word of explanation.Apparently the tram personnel claim it was a deliberate sabotage by someone who was pressing an emergency stop button. This was validated by public safety radio which was crackling about the issue , and the arrival of PSD cars. Did the tram people take an unnecessary risk by continuing to try and operate after the sudden stops ? What is the real story ?
I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) VP Of Operations Fernando Martinez about the Tuesday evening incident. Mr. Martinez replied:
With any major infrastructure system, despite extensive testing and inspections, it is normal to experience very minor glitches at the start of operations.  This particular incident  was caused by a dirty filter.  It was immediately addressed, and the Tram was returned to service.   The reaction and comments made by the Tram employees are unacceptable.  I have already addressed my concerns with Poma.  Poma will provide additional training to the employees.

As far as the second day of operation, the Tram operated without interruption.  The Tram was not affected by the wind gust of up to 55 mph.  It was able to operate as designed and remained in service through the entire wind event.  The Tram operated at 4 meters per second or half speed and occasionally slower speeds were needed at the tower crossings.  The old tramway would have  closed at 40 mph.  The new system performed as designed.
I understand that these minor kinks are to be expected, hope that's all it is and am very glad that the Tram is back in service.

Following up last Tuesday's post on the Grand Re-Opening of the new Roosevelt Island Tram and it's resumption of service for residents and visitors, here's some more scenes from the festivities.

The morning began with lots of media coverage and an inaugural ride back and forth for selected dignitaries and members of the press. For the record, I was included in the latter category.

Before the inaugural ride, the champagne bottles were made ready

and the passengers gathered anxiously for their first ride.

Some experienced passengers were relaxing before take-off including former Mayor and avid Roosevelt Island Racquet Club player David Dinkins who reminded riders to hold on for their safety as we began our journey.

Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy greeted Greg, an original Tram Cabin Attendant from it's inception in the late 1970's

right before Greg pushed the button to start the Tram Cabin on it's first scheduled trip across the East River to the Manhattan Station

with RIOC personnel, NYC officials and representatives from Poma, the contractor and operator for the new Tram on board.

We made it safely and quickly to the Manhattan Tram Station

and were greeted by high ranking officers of the NYPD and FDNY

as well as Assembly Member Micah Kellner and Council Member Jessica Lappin.

Then the POMA representatives popped the Champagne, after having a bit of trouble with the cork,

and RIOC President Leslie Torres made some brief welcoming and congratulatory remarks.

Then we got back on the Tram

headed to Roosevelt Island

to be welcomed by a brass band

and crowds waiting for their turn on the first new Tram Ride open to the public.

David Kramer, Southtown's Riverwalk Developer and bidder for the Main Street retail Master Leasehold,was also present for the Roosevelt Island Tram Re-Opening Day festivities.


But before the public could ride the Tram, came the Grand Opening Ceremonies with remarks by RIOC President Leslie Torres (statement is here), POMA representatives, Borough President Stringer, Assembly Member Micah Kellner, State Senator Jose Serrano and City Council Member Jessica Lappin. Their statements are at the end of this post.

Then the ribbon cutting ceremony

 Tram Ribbon Cutting Image From Duc Le

and after 9 long months, the Roosevelt Island public entered the new cabins to journey on their first trip on the new Roosevelt Island Tram.

At the Manhattan Station we exited the Tram

and then either stayed in Manhattan or returned on the next Tram with another long time attendant Dave

as RIRA President Matt Katz was being interviewed on New York 1

and we enjoyed our East River view.


Upon our return to Roosevelt Island, RIOC Director Jonathan Kalkin was interviewed by the BBC,

RIOC General Counsel Ken Leitner had some fun with the ribbon cutting scissors

and others dug into this Roosevelt Island Tram cake

provided by Alphonse and the other good folks at the Riverwalk Bar & Grill.

Finally, evening arrived and the end of the new Roosevelt Island Tram's first day of service.

There were some kinks as described above, some people tripped over this bump in front of the Tram cabins and the cabins did sway more than I expected near the Tram Towers

 but I sure am glad that the Tram is back in service.

There was one person missing who was instrumental in getting this new Tram approved and that was former RIOC President Steve Shane.

 Image of Steve Shane On March 1, 2010 At Beginning Of Modernization Project

During the Tram ride back from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island, I asked RIOC's VP Of Planning and Intergovernmental Affairs Rosina Abramson if Mr. Shane was invited to the Grand Opening Ceremonies. Ms. Abramson replied that Mr. Shane was out of town playing in a Bridge Tournament. I asked again if Mr. Shane was invited and Ms. Abramson said that she was not involved in the invitation process. I asked her who was and she responded by saying that she did not want to talk further about this subject.

Here's some more scenes from the Roosevelt Island Tram's Grand Re-Opening Day.

Our elected officials had this to say about the Roosevelt Island Tram Grand Re-Opening. From Borough President Scott Stringer:
 The Roosevelt Island Aerial Tram is a New York City landmark that has been sorely missed for the last nine months.

Since opening more than 30 years ago, the tram has become a true icon along the East River skyline

By moving over 2 million passengers between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island each year, the tram has proven to be a critical component to Roosevelt Island's transportation infrastructure

And now with the completion of the Four Freedoms Park on the horizon, the tram is sure to bring even more New Yorkers to the Island

With its increased efficiency, stability and a new State-of-the-Art design, the new tram will provide an enhanced transit experience for Roosevelt Island residents, commuters and tourists alike

We are delighted to welcome the Roosevelt Island tram back into rotation!
Assembly Member Micah Kellner:
Thank you Leslie. Good morning everyone.

I'm so glad this day has finally arrived. Roosevelt Island without the Tram is like Brooklyn without the Bridge. While most New Yorkers struggle to push onto crowded subways and buses each morning, Roosevelt Islanders can once again fly to work every day with the greatest city in the world spread out at their feet.

Originally the Tram was meant to be only a temporary solution until a subway connection to the Island could be completed.

But the Tram became more than just a stopgap measure—it is the defining symbol of Roosevelt Island, a unique form of transportation for a unique community.

While the skyline below has been transformed with time, the Tram remains an icon of New York, immortalized in films like Woody Allen's Manhattan—taking off to the tune of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue—and from Sylvester Stallone saving the day in Nighthawks to Spiderman rescuing Mary Jane, the Tram has been at the center of so many high wire action films. It has even become a fashion statement—you can buy your very own Tram earrings at the Roosevelt Island Historical Society kiosk just a few steps away from here. An accessory no woman should go without.

But after 30 years of service the Tram needed a reboot. And now we have version 2.0—faster, steadier and more reliable than ever before.

I'm particularly proud to have preserved the funding for the Tram upgrade over several budget cycles—ensuring that New York State keeps its commitment to Roosevelt Island's infrastructure.

Roosevelt Island is an extraordinary place. Riding the Tram, you can hear people of all ages talking in half a dozen different languages about small-town life in the middle of the big city. When visitors ride the Tram to the Island, I hope they know they’re landing in a community like no other in the world.

I congratulate all those who worked so hard to make this project a success, and I’m especially happy to welcome back the great men and women of the Operating Engineers who make the Tram run each and every day.
City Council Member Jessica Lappin:
 The Roosevelt Island tram is a New York City icon.  It’s been in movies and TV shows – but for New Yorkers, and Island residents, it’s more than that: it’s a vital transportation link to Roosevelt Island.

Millions of people depend on the tram each year.  And now it’s modern, safer, and better than ever.  I’m glad this overhaul is complete and the tram is back in service, particularly because the Island is so starved for transportation options.

I want to congratulate Leslie Torres, Fernando Martinez and the entire team at RIOC for all of their hard work making this day happen.

Now we will all be able, once again, to enjoy the unique views the tram offers.  It makes for one beautiful commute.
 and State Senator Jose Serrano:
 As the Roosevelt Island community continues to expand, it is important that its facilities and services reflect that growth. The extensive improvements to the tramway system will greatly benefit New York, as they will continue to ensure a safe, fast, and reliable ride for both residents and visitors of the island for years to come. We have all been anxiously anticipating this inaugural ride, and I would like to thank the RIOC Board and its President, Leslie Torres, for all of their labors, which have made it possible for commuters and tourists to now enjoy the increased efficiency of the modernized Tram."
Here's coverage of the Roosevelt Island Tram Grand Re-Opening from the Main Street WIRE.

Service Suspended, The Men Behing The New York Tram Renovation Photo Exhibit Of Roosevelt Island Tram Project On Display This Week - Opening Reception Tonight At Lumen Gallery

Image By Jonas Cuenin From Roosevelt Island Tram Renovation Photo Exhibit Via France-Amerique

Service Suspended - The Men Behind The New York Tram Renovation is the title of a new exhibition displaying  photographs taken during the 9 month Roosevelt Island Tram Modernization Project that will be showing at the Lumen Gallery from December 2 - 7 with an opening reception tonight starting 6 PM. The Lumen Gallery is located at 221 East 6oth Street in Manhattan.

According to French Culture:
Two photographers, Carol Caver and Jonas Cuénin, painstakingly documented the activities of the American, French, Swiss and Canadian team throughout the entire renovation. One photographer witnessed the project from the exterior while the other observed the interior scenes, capturing fleeting moments of New York history from all angles. With their own interpretation, the photographers pay homage to the story of these workers.
Carol Caver is self-taught photographer who has discovered her life-long passion. A photo-journalist, Jonas Cuénin is a correspondent living in the United States.
I've spoken with Mr. Cuenin several times during the Tram Project. I learned that the project's contractor, POMA, provided Mr. Cuenin with special access to document the Tram renovation so I am looking forward to this exhibition particularly after seeing the photograph above and below of workers walking on beams over Second Avenue in front of the Queensboro Bridge.

 From a Google Translate version of a France Amerique article:
... Two photographers, American and French Carol Caver Jonas Cuénin photographed for four months the project's progress. The latter, a press photographer in New York (he also works at France-America), was hired by Poma to make a film on the work. "I realized I had the good fortune to have access to a symbolic place in New York that appears in many films. After two months, in parallel with the documentary Poma, I started work personal, more artistic. " Remembering the famous photos taken of the Iron Workers in the construction of the Empire State Building, the French photographer seized the stolen moments of these brave workers....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Chanukah From Roosevelt Island - Enjoy The Dreidel Song, Texas Swing Style

Image of Roosevelt Island Chanukah Tram At Riverwalk Landing

Happy Chanukah.

Here's my favorite rendition of the Dreidel Song - Texas swing style.

You Tube video link is here.

I believe there is a Roosevelt Island Menorah Lighting Ceremony this Saturday in front of Blackwell House.

More Chanukah songs from earlier posts here including from Adam Sandler and Matisyahu.