The rapidly repeated pounding noise sails across Riverwalk Commons and echoes off Southtown Building #9’s future neighbors. For now, the work demands breaking up Roosevelt Island’s history before the future can replace it.
by David Stone
Thirty years ago – can it be that long? – my morning runs took me past Blackwell House and into the fields of abandoned, partially dismantled buildings between there and the Tram. The remains of Roosevelt Island’s history were in full view.
Southtown, the Riverwalk buildings, was a dream, then. Not a single structure stood along what’s now East Main Street. Ground hadn’t even been broken, and no contracts were signed.
About where Building #9 will go up, there was an abandoned loading dock. It looked almost ready for business, but it had no building to go with it. It just sat there, open to the seasons, in an open field.
All around, foundations from structures existing before the Roosevelt Island of today lay under the dirt.
That’s what all the noisy digging is about. Empty, never before developed space is easier, but that’s not Roosevelt Island.
From a pig farm to the landing place for public institutions the powers that be wanted off Manhattan’s bigger island, Roosevelt Island got built and rebuilt before.
Now, Hudson-Related’s contractor must crack through the old foundations, well-built and sturdy, before presenting the community with the shiny new promise of the future.