Saturday, June 13, 2015

As Hillary Launches: "Islands of The Undesirables: Roosevelt Island"

From the International Business Times:
Hillary Clinton 2016 Announcement Live Stream: Roosevelt Island New York Speech And Rally [VIDEO]

And from Atlas Obscura:

Islands of The Undesirables: Roosevelt Island  
Aerial view of Roosevelt Island (Photo: Philip Capper/WikiCommons CC BY 2.0)
In 1883, Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus,” a poem that would eventually be engraved on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty. In her famous lines, Liberty herself—the “Mother of Exiles”— declares:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
While the words are appropriate for Ellis Island, other islands around New York City seem to operate with a different message. These are places to which the “wretched refuse” have been banished, not welcomed. Roosevelt Island, Randall’s Island, Ward’s Island, Rikers Island, and Hart Island have all been places where the tired, poor, sick and criminal are sent to be treated—or sometimes just confined—far from glittering Manhattan. The water has served as a kind of moat, as well as insurance against NIMBY protestations. These islands aren’t part of anyone’s backyard, which has made them a perfect place for the unwanted, nestled in plain sight of one of the world’s great cities.
Islands of The Undesirables: Roosevelt Island
A map of the islands that are featured in Atlas Obscura's 'Islands of the Undesirables' series (Photo: Map Data © 2015 Google)
This is the first part of a five-part series based on this past weekend’s Obscura Day event. First up: Roosevelt Island. 

According to most sources, the original inhabitants of what is now Roosevelt Island, the Canarsie tribe, called the place Minnahannock, which translates to “it’s nice to be here.” (As with many things reported about Native Americans during this time period, it’s wise to take this with a grain of salt.) The Dutch called the place Varcken Eylandt, or Hog Island, because they raised hogs there, while the British called it called Manning's Island, after Captain John Manning, who owned the island starting in the 1660s.

It was during the tenure of Manning’s son-in-law, Robert Blackwell, that the island came to have darker associations, becoming the site of lunatic asylums, prisons, and other institutions.

The first European owner of the island was Wouter Van Twiller, the Director General of the New Amsterdam colony, who bought the island from the Canarsie tribe, as he did with what’s now Ward’s, Randall’s, and Governors Islands. Once the English took over, they granted the island to John Manning, sheriff of New York, but he ended up in disgrace. In 1673, while commanding Fort James, Manning surrendered the colony to the Dutch (to be fair, he only had about 80 men to defend the place). The English sent him back to the mother country to be court-martialed, then to New York to be publicly disgraced, with his sword broken in a City Hall ceremony. Manning was told he could never hold public office again, and banished to his island. According to one Rev. Charles Wooley, written about in a book called The Other Islands of New York by Stuart Miller and Sharon Seitz,  the former sheriff’s chief entertainment was “commonly a Bowl of Rum-Punch."

The island’s next owner and namesake was Robert Blackwell, who married Manning’s daughter Mary. A house built by his descendants still stands on the island, and is the sixth-oldest house in New York City. It looks forlorn but well-maintained, the glass wavy with the pressure of centuries. The Blackwell family lived and farmed on the island into the 19th century, although they repeatedly tried to sell it without any takers....MUCH MORE