What place on earth really creeps you out? Is it a building somewhere in your hometown? Is it a ruin you walked through years ago while on vacation that felt heavy with history and past demons?
Why not write about it? I did. Here it goes:
For me, it’s Roosevelt Island. The cigar shaped strip of land along the east river that straddles the upper east side of Manhattan and Queens. Fully inhabited, it’s a living, breathing little sleepy nook of NYC, carved off from the mainland.
Back in the black and white dusty days of old timey NYC, it was used to quarantine the contagious from the main land. A small pox hospital (now crumbling and empty) existed. And the Octogon Building, now a luxury condo complex, was the sight of a former insane asylum.
Yup! This place is really cool. And weird. And creepy despite it being inhabited and beloved (or despised, depending on who you talk to) by those who live there.
This long, two mile strip of land wasn’t wasted or left to the elements like the REALLY REALLY creepy North and South Brother Islands – two abandoned small land masses off the coast of The Bronx steeped in sad, depressing history. (More to come in my next post). Roosevelt was developed into a residential, park-like community with no nightlife, a few grocery stores and restaurants. It still houses a working, educational hospital; yet, people come here to buy high end condos and live a peaceful life away from the bustle across the river.
There is only a Main Street cutting through the island, with an east and west drive. You can get to Roosevelt Island by Tram or by the F train. Cars are not plentiful, so there’s no traffic. The tram ride there is gorgeous, and the biking on the island is nice and easy due to cars being somewhat scarce.
For me, it’s incredibly creepy. Eerie. Strange. Like a New York City parallel universe where you’ve been drugged and thrown in a van only to wake up in the middle of the in-between. Someone online mentioned that it reminded them of the old video game ‘Myst’ – where you’ve been ship wrecked on an island that looks familiar, but it’s vacant and strange and surreal.
They even made a thriller with Jennifer Connolly called ‘Dark Water’ on the premises, using its isolated, dystopic, empty strangeness as part of the atmosphere.
So bizarre is this strip of island – that only this week during New York’s Fashion Week, Kanye West, now a fashion maven, staged a fashion show to reveal his latest line of shoe wear. Girls clad in nothing but underwear and body stockings stood along the grassy area of the park, staged as living dolls around the makeshift runways. They stood there, like brooding statues in the heat, to which they succumbed, one by one in fainting spells. Meanwhile, animated models strutted and stumbled over shoes that fell apart on the catwalk.
As each model wobbled and held on to audience members for dear life, the ruins of the small pox hospital loomed in the distance.
A modern day disaster contrasting an older one. A strange land perfect for such a strange performance.
Perfect for a weird place like Roosevelt Island.
Yet, the skyline views were, and are always — spectacular.