You have walked the Great Saunter, the 32-33 mile perimeter of Manhattan seeing parts of NY rarely if ever seen by New Yorkers and then returned to visit its major waterside sites such as the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum, the High Line and Little Island. Now let’s take a virtual tour of two Islands seen in the distance when walking the Great Saunter; Roosevelt Island and Governors Island.
I am not going to explain the history of Governors Island. If you want that, join one of their free walking tours led by knowledgeable guides. I just walked the Great Saunter. Instead, I am going to take the 5-minute ferry ride to the car-free Island, purchase an alcoholic beverage and food from the concession stands and head to Hammock Grove. Yes, I am going to wile away the day napping in a hammock the Sunday following the Great Saunter. After feeling refreshed I may stroll to Outlook Hill with its views of the southern tip of Manhattan.
The tramway which starts beneath the Queens Borough Bridge offers a bird’s eye view Roosevelt Island. The Lighthouse spotted from Carl Schurz Park while walking the Great Saunter was built by inmates of a penitentiary from rock quarried from the island to protect ships from the boulders surrounding the island.
Ruins reveal the island’s history. Facing Queens are the ruins of the smallpox hospital built from the designs of James Renwick who also designed the lighthouse, the Smithsonian in Washington DC and the facade of the NY Stock Exchange. Continuing on, we come to the Octagon which was one of the first hospitals to medically treat the mentally ill. Finally, on the southern end of the Island we come to the Four Freedoms State Park, memorialized in granite, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech celebrating the ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear.