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Midtown Musings: The Roosevelt Island Tramway

New Yorkers are pros when it comes to navigating the city’s subway system—we can ride standing without holding on, and we know which exits to leave from. But all our expertise disappears when it comes to getting to Roosevelt Island, in the East River, on a mode of transportation we have very little experience with: an aerial gondola. Many longtime city residents don’t even know Manhattan is even home to the contraption, even though it makes a prime cameo in the 2002 blockbuster Spider-Man.

For our latest #MidtownMusings getaway, the team at Refinery headed to the Roosevelt Island tramway for an adventure in the air.


You enter at the corner of 60th Street and 2nd Avenue, where two red gondolas, each with room for 125 passengers, make 115 trips per day back and forth.

As you leave the station, you’re sent skyward over Manhattan on the north side of the Queensboro Bridge. Soon, you’re over the Hudson, with stunning views over the water and of the city’s East Side skyline.

Traveling about 16 miles per hour, you reach heights of 250 feet. The two gondolas cross paths midway through the river, a favorite moment for kids riding.


After descending, you arrive on Roosevelt Island. Home to an insane asylum, a prision and several massive hospitals from the 1800s through the mid 20th century, it’s transformed into a residential neighborhood—talk about a fun commute for everyone who lives there! You can easily walk the perimeter of the island, which is only two miles long and 800 feet wide.


But if time is short, make a bee-line south, where hospital ruins dot the landscaping and epic Manhattan views (you’re right across from the UN Headquarters) span to the right. In 2012, the city opened the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park at the island’s southern tip. Designed by architect Louis Kahn, the triangular park is a striking stopping point to take in the city.



We ended our trip here, before taking the tram back to Manhattan. Until next time, Roosevelt Island!

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