Roosevelt Island tram, New York picture
Roosevelt Island tram
New York is a city of surprises– the $1.25 cup of coffee at the corner bodega often tastes better than the latte from Starbucks, top-notch entertainment can be found in the subway, and the best view of it all is aboard an urban gondola on the Upper East Side. We labored over choosing the most scenic New York view, but finally decided that the perspective aboard the Roosevelt Island Tram is unlike any other in the entire city. The view from the top of a skyscraper is stunning yet distant, the scene from the shores of Brooklyn dramatic but detached, aboard the aerial tram, however, visitors get at dazzling view of the city at its own eye level. New York Habitat has dozens of accommodations in the Upper East Side that place guests between the grass of Central Park and benches aboard the Roosevelt Island Tram.

Out-of town motorists driving along the FDR highway on Manhattan’s East Side have been perplexed by the red and white lifts slowly climbing across the sky since the tram’s introduction in 1976. For many New Yorkers the Roosevelt Island Tramway has become the city’s most beloved quirk. Originally built as a temporary commuting solution for residents on Roosevelt Island in the East River, a lack of sufficient infrastructure to replace the tram kept it open. Though a subway stop now exists on the island, the tram’s public acclaim has kept it running.

Each cabin of the aerial tramway can hold 125 people. The tram departs from Second Avenue-59th street, climbs some 250 feet at 16 miles per hour and sets back down on Roosevelt Island. Though somewhat obstructed by the adjacent Queensboro bridge, 360 degrees of glass offer views of Uptown, Downtown and Midtown unlike any other in the city. In fact, until 2006 the Roosevelt Island Tram was the only aerial tram carrying commuters in the United States (Portland built one in 2006). Visitors may not be able to see the Statue of Liberty from here but riding the Tram is truly a unique New York experience–one filled with more commuting New Yorkers than picture-happy tourists.

Visitors wishing to stay close to the tram should look for an apartment on the Upper East Side.

If you have missed the previous top New York Views read:

#5: Liberty State Park, Jersey City New Jersey

#4: Empire – Fulton Ferry Park, Brooklyn

#3: Governors Island

#2 Top of the Rock

What do you think about our choice for the best Manhattan view? Let us know below.