Roosevelt Island! But the Indians called it “Long Island” and the first Dutch owners knew it as Hogs Island – far off farm property in the middle of the East River.
The Blackwell family, taking possession of the island in 1676, held it for over 150 years, mined its quarries, farmed its fruit trees and during the post Revolutionary era built its now restored farmhouse, Blackwell House.
In 1828, New York City purchased the Blackwell’s Island for $32,500. South of today’s tram station a vast penitentiary soon was erected. The first of the innumerable city institutions to sprawl across the Island and hold millions of New Yorkers, small and great, it set the scene for decades of architectural, social and medical advance and defeat.