I was walking to the subway in Astoria one morning back in early November when it occurred to me that it was just too glorious a day to head straight into work.
Instead I took a detour to see the new Four Freedoms Memorial for FDR at the tip of Roosevelt Island. Besides, it's (sort of) on the way to the office, so work would just have to wait. I had explored the vacant memorial site on runs from my house in the past and had eagerly anticipated the completion of the new park (see the previous post Before Four Freedoms):
Four Freedoms Park was designed by the great Philadelphia architect, Louis Kahn, in in 1972. He was carrying the finished designs with him when he died in 1974 in Pennsylvania Station in New York City. It was one of Kahn's last works. The project languished after Kahn's death and the tip of the island remained undeveloped. It's amazing that almost 40 years later the park has finally been built to Kahn's design.
I took the subway to Roosevelt Island and walked south under the Queensboro Bridge towards the southern tip of the island to the new memorial. http://www.fdrfourfreedomspark.org/
The Queensboro Bridge is a great Erector Set span of thousands of pieces and millions of rivets.
Let's hope that the new official "Ed Koch Bridge" name never catches on - it's too beautiful a bridge to be burdened with the name of the closeted mayor who failed the city so miserably during the early years of the AIDS crisis and whose neglect of the city's minority communities remains a civic disgrace.
The park begins below the last "welfare" hospital that will soon be torn down to build a new high tech complex sponsored by the city and Cornell University. The Dutch settlers called it Hog Island, later it became known as Blackwell's Island, then Welfare Island, and finally Roosevelt Island in the 1970's.
The views along the water's edge are stupendous.
The exclusive River Club co-op on E. 52nd Street originally had it's own private dock for yachts until direct access to the river was cut off by the construciton of the FDR Drive:
Hurricane Sandy had taken its toll on the coastlines of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut just two weeks before. The park had been closed for clean up, but re-opened soon thereafter.
It's a challenge to focus on the park when the views across the river are so dramatic:
Thank goodness for the Chrysler Building.
And the United Nations!
Just before arriving at the memorial you pass the ruins of the Smallpox Hospital - see the previous post Before Four Freedoms:
At the entry to the memorial there is a ceremonial stair to a raised lawn in the center with walkways along the river on both sides:
Louis I. Kahn - Philadelphia's great gift to the world of architecture.
At the top of the stairs there is a sloping lawn that narrows as it descends. There was still dusting of snow from a Nor'easter two days earlier:
Mr. Roosevelt's large head:
A stylish young visitor:
The open ended "room" at the tip of the island:
In the middle of the East River:
With the United Nations across the river:
Just a stone's throw away, but mind the police boats patrolling the waters.
The United Nations has a brand new curtain wall as part of their recent top to bottom renovation:
Looking back from the point:
The trapezoidal sloping lawn,
appears to become a rectangle when approached from below. A fantastic optical illusion:
Time was passing and work was waiting, so I headed north to take the tram over to Manhattan.
Back under the bridge.
One of the terra cotta kiosks that used to serve as Queensboro Bridge trolley stations has been relocated to the island as a visitor center:
The brief tram ride is a wonder:
After another visit to Roosevelt Island by bike several weeks later I stopped on the way home in the park by the Queensbridge Houses to admire the sunset:
Now there's a city that's something to look at!