Is the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Finally Restored?

Is the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Finally Restored?

As photos by historian Judith Berdy show, the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse restoration is nearly completed. The heavy equipment is gone, and the glass and top platform are in place. With the construction fencing now gone, too, visitors can again enjoy the full park experience.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

The Roosevelt Island Lighthouse from The Girl Puzzle.
The restored Roosevelt Island Lighthouse in perspective with The Girl Puzzle, an installation honoring Nellie Bly by Amanda Matthews./Photo courtesy of Judith Berdy and the Roosevelt Island Historical Society.

The Roosevelt Island Lighthouse

The old Blackwell Island Lighthouse, now known as Roosevelt Island Lighthouse, has also been known as Welfare Island Lighthouse.

It is a stone lighthouse built by the city of New York in 1872 and is located on the northern point of the Island where the East River meets the Harlem River and tides from Long Island Sound. Those powerful conflicts led to its being named Hell Gate.

It was designated a New York City Landmark on March 23, 1976, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 16, 1980.

In 1872, the City of New York erected a lighthouse. James Renwick Jr., the supervising architect, designed several other structures on the island for the Charities and Correction Board as well as more renowned works such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

With the facts lost in history, legends are what we have…

The construction of the lighthouse has been the subject of many stories. The various stories are linked to two names, John McCarthy and Thomas Maxey. According to the warden of a mental institution’s report from 1870, an industrious patient had built a seawall on land that had been reclaimed near the Asylum.

A prison inmate, according to legend, constructed a fort to defend the island against a British invasion that he believed was coming. Some versions say that he had added a Civil War cannon.

The legend goes on to state that the builder was bribed with counterfeit money to tear down the fort for the lighthouse’s construction. According to other accounts, an Asylum inmate built the lighthouse.

Until about 1940, the lighthouse remained in service. Earlier restorations in the 1970s and in 1998 preserved the structure. But the current restoration aims at the authenticity of its original appearance. Judge for yourself in this video of Roosevelt Island, north to south, shot by Thomas Edison in 1903.

Looking Ahead

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), responsible for the lighthouse and its restoration has not announced a ribbon-cutting, but it’s expected soon.

More from the Roosevelt Island Daily News

  • “How can he stay on?” a Reader Asks about RIOC CEO Haynes
    After reading about the latest in an avalanche of bad RIOC news, “How can he stay on?” he asked. Our reader asked about RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes, and his question echoed others bouncing around
  • COVID Cases Soar While RIOC PSD Gets Worse
    COVID cases are soaring across New York City. The Health Department sounds alarms, pleading for face masks in all public places. But on Roosevelt Island, where positivity rates now nearly double the city average, the
  • RIOC Board Meeting, May 2022: A New Exercise in Bunker Mode
    Bunker mode fits as well with New York’s Open Meetings Law as a whale on a shrimp boat. They’re antithetical. One reveals things; the other hides them. But controlled by an irresponsible governor and a
  • Another One Bites the Dust: Markus Sztejnberg Exits RIOC
    Markus Sztejnberg, the latest domino to fall in a row of RIOC executives, left recently after just a few months on staff. He “…is the latest RIOC executive to resign,” an informant tells The Daily.
  • Losing Maloney, Maybe. Serrano for Sure. Final Redistricting
    Final redistricting by a Special Master appointed by a Steuben County judge guts the voting map approved by Democrats. The same judge threw them out as unconstitutional, and New York’s highest court agreed. Big change
Share

Written by:

2,216 Posts

View All Posts
Follow Me :

Leave a Reply

One thought on “Is the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Finally Restored?

You May Have Missed

%d bloggers like this: