Friday, October 9, 2009
The Octagon, Roosevelt Island, NYC
I love my hometown NYC. Some people think that the only "island" in NYC is Manhattan. But, there is a long thin island next to it that use to be called Blackwell Island. Then Welfare Island. Then to Roosevelt Island in the '70s. So, much history in such a small place. My mother and aunt lived there for many years. I use to go there over on the Tram and it felt like you were millions of miles away from "the city" as we would call it. A lot of actors used to live there. Buddy Hackett and most of all Grampa Munster. Believe me I use to bump into him all the time.
As for history, there's an old farmhouse still there from the 1700's. A ruined Smallpox Hospital. There used to be a prison that Typhoid Mary and Mae West were just some of the prisoners. At the other end of the island, near Hell's Gate, is a lighthouse that was built by the prisoners (creepy place on a gloomy day). There was an Almshouse, but, it's been torn down. And last, The Octagon, now a posh rental apartments. But, used to be the infamous Insane Asylum built in 1837. Charles Dickins visited the place during his visit to America 1842. The famous female reporter Nelly Bly had herself place as a patient in the asylum. Which later a newspaper article was written about her adventures.
The center entrance to the apartment building is the original Octagon rotunda. And, it's said that apparitions have been seen there. Some residents say they feel like they have "squatters" living with them. But, as a tough New Yorker we don't really talk about it. We live with it.
So, when going on a visit to NYC. Take the Tram over to the island. And, check it out.