Sad Death Of The First Roosevelt Island Tram, 2010

Sad Death Of The First Roosevelt Island Tram, 2010

Death of the First Roosevelt Island Tram

Historic Preservation Failure

The first Roosevelt Island Tram made it’s last run across the East River, ten years ago this March. Its replacement is safer and more reliable, but discovered by tourists, it’s not as special.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island Daily New

Old Roosevelt Island Tram

The first Roosevelt Island Tram lifts off across the East River. Fine Art Photography Print by Deborah Julian ($28) © All rights reserved.

Breakdowns, one forcing high risk rescues, doomed the old Tram. Its big flaw? Out of date technology.

Built in 1976 as the original commuter tram in the U.S., it relied on an integrated pulley system. Cables linked the cabins. More importantly, both had to move at once. Partial shutdowns were impossible.

The answer? Full replacement, cabins, cables and all. That opened in 2010. RIOC crowded the maiden voyage across the East River with politicians eager for credit. A band played, but it wasn’t the same.

Take a ride with me in the final days of the first Roosevelt Island Tram…

It’s quiet, and the lights are out. No glare messing up the view. This is November, 2009, the day after the Yankees won their last World series.

In the decade since, the universe discovered the Tram. Safer, reliable service draws tourists, but we lost the intimacy of a ride home with neighbors.

After 33 years, the original Tram cabins went out of service as did the gears and cables they relied on. But what became of them?

RIOC preserved the historic relics.

But although RIOC invests millions in the permanently unusable Smallpox Hospital, the old cabins collect dust. And neglect in a cage behind the Motorgate atrium.

Original Tram cabins collect dust under a parking garage. Giant gears that once propelled it are nearby, also discarded.

Proposals for reviving them has come from artists at RIVAA as well as the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. But RIOC has not budged, and nothing suggests a change.

RIOC’s priorities for preservation are baffling. Blackwell House closed, three years after restoration was announced. Ribbon cuttings also pushed back and no end in sight.

The Smallpox Hospital, treasured for its links to James Renwick, is a money pit, and the Lighthouse is never quite finished.

The legacy Roosevelt Island Tram cabins? Just an embarrassment of neglect.

Also from the Roosevelt Island Daily News

  • Who Just Made the Big Fat Silence You Didn’t Hear?
    It was RIOC, and that big fat silence billowed out in every direction as it had for months. Starting with brutal accusations in a lawsuit condemning a wide swath of Roosevelt Islanders as racists, the
  • Main Street Now – How We Can Do Better, Tip #1
    When we take an honest look at Main Street now, it’s cringe-worthy. Even the easy improvements get little notice, and as we pointed out yesterday, slipshod appearances surround the handful of solid businesses. We can
  • Fear on the F Train Shuttle during rush hour with no help anywhere
    While the MTA and cooperative media shovel safety pabulum at the public, subway fear is real and continuing as an F Train incident yesterday showed. Not only are dangers increasing, but it’s more concerning that
  • Anger Rising Over New Management Policies at Roosevelt Landings
    Roosevelt Landings made itself something of an outlier when new management severed the thread of WIRE buildings, dropping the E by replacing “Eastwood.” New owners, L+M, kept other continuity and built some trust in the
  • Why is someone making Shelton Haynes look like a fool?
    It’s a mystery. Someone is trying to make RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes look like a fool. It’s so obvious, but why? We asked several people who know Haynes well from personal experience and got

4 thoughts on “Sad Death Of The First Roosevelt Island Tram, 2010

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: