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Roosevelt House

About this listing

Former home of President Roosevelt & family, now Hunter College's Public Policy Institute

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Upper East Side
Institution, Education

Place Matters Profile

A unique planned community on the East River, Roosevelt Island incorporated elements from its long history into a cutting-edge late 1960s urban design. Today it combines a mix of market and affordable housing, historic landmark buildings, parkland, and incomparable views of the East River and the rest of the city in a small 147-acre package.

Roosevelt Island’s name dates only to 1973, as it was renamed in its transformation into a residential community. It was Minnahanonck to native New Yorkers, Hogs Island in Dutch New Amsterdam, and Blackwell’s Island for more than two centuries, named after the British family who owned the island from 1686. In 1821 the family sold the island to the City of New York, which found it a fit place to isolate poor, ill, and troubled New Yorkers. Hospitals, insane asylums, and prisons would dominate the landscape for more than one hundred years. Nineteenth century writers...

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Annual Report. New York: New York State Urban Development Corporation, 1974.

Judith Berdy. “Preserving Social History on Roosevelt Island.” Gotham Gazette 23 May 2005 (access at

Judith Berdy and the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. Images of America: Roosevelt Island. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press, 2003.

The Island Nobody Knows. New York: New York State Urban Development Corporation, 1969.

Report of the Welfare Island Planning and Development Committee. New York, February 1969.

Ivan D. Steen. “New Town in the City: Edward J. Logue and His Vision for Roosevelt Island, New York” Journal of Planning History 9:3 (2010), 183-197.

On The Web

Roosevelt Island Historical Society blog
Roosevelt Island Historical Society
Roosevelt Island Operating Corp.
Video: Roosevelt Island's Pneumatic Trash System
Forgotten NY "Back to the Island: Roosevelt Island Return Voyage"


Judith Berdy

Especially important are the six landmark structures that reflect the history of the island and the city from 18th century to today.

Judith Berdy

Roosevelt Island has a long history of institutional use from the 1800's to 1950's. It became a new community in 1970 and was developed for middle income families. Six historic buildings were saved and landmarked which are: Chapel of the Good Shepherd, Smallpox Hospital, Strecker Laboratory, Blackwell House, Lighthouse and Octagon.

This is a unique 1970's community surrounded by the East River, gardens, a promenade and greenery 3 minutes from Manhattan. Transportation to the island is by aerial tramway, car or subway.

The blending of historical buildings with the new community is most imporant. An excellent example is the Octagon, a now restored landmark entrance into a newly built 500-apartment building. Chapel of the Good Shepherd is the spiritual center for two denominations and a central meeting place for community forums.

For more information, contact the Roosevelt Island Historical Society:

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