Islandhopping: Roosevelt Island

Tram it to Roosevelt Island for hip-hop, Hairspray and a gothic ruin or two.

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Photo: Creative Commons / http://www.flickr.com/photos/hotdogger13

Thanks to the boxy red tram that glides above the East River, Roosevelt Island may be one of the only spots in New York City that’s a joy to get to via public transportation. Visitors lured by the urban carnival ride often find the destination itself a little sleepy, considering the main attraction is a view from waterside park benches. This summer, the island has hipped up its rep with the Roosevelt Live outdoor concert series (rooseveltlive.com), on Saturday afternoons at 4pm by the F train stop (the less scenic way to get there). Groove to Core Rhythm’s hip-hop on Saturday 15; cumbia favorite Chicha Libre’s psychedelic surf music on August 22; and Generate Records’ jazz festival on August 29. The annual summer film series (rioc.com) screens free movies at Firefighter’s Field by the tram stop, and concludes Monday 17 with Hairspray (2007) at 8pm. While you’re here, venture to some of the island’s quirky landmarks, like architect James Renwick Jr.’s lighthouse or the clapboard 1796 Blackwell Farmhouse (rihs.us). Inhale a few rolls at Fuji East Japanese Bistro (455 Main St, No. 3A; 212-583-1688) before peeking through the gate at the eerie ruins of Renwick’s gothic Smallpox Hospital, which appeared in Spider-Man—further proof that there’s something fantastical about this island.

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