Roosevelt Island, known as Welfare Island from 1921 to 1973, and before that Blackwell's Island, is a narrow island in the East River of New York City. It lies between the island of Manhattan to its west and the borough of Queens to its east. Running from Manhattan's East 46th to East 85th streets, it is about two miles (3 km) long, with a maximum width of 800 feet (240 m), and a total area of 147 acres (0.59 km2). The island is part of the Borough of Manhattan and New York County. Together with Mill Rock, Roosevelt Island constitutes New York County's Census Tract 238, which has a land area of 0.279 sq mi (0.72 km2). and had a population of 9,520 in 2000 according to the US Census. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation estimated its population was about 12,000 in 2007.Roosevelt Island is owned by the city, but was leased to the state of New York's Urban Development Corporation for 99 years in 1969. Most of the residential buildings on Roosevelt Island are rental buildings. There is also a cooperative (Rivercross) and a condominium building (Riverwalk). One rental building (Eastwood) has left New York State's Mitchell-Lama Housing Program, though current residents are still protected. Three other buildings are now working toward privatization, including the cooperative.
Roosvelt Island History
Before the City of New York bought the two-mile-long island for $32,000 in 1828, this stretch of land passed through many hands. Dutch Gov. Wouter Van Twiller first purchased it from the Canarsie Indians in 1637 and called it Hog Island. The purchase was later declared void by New York Governor Peter Stuyvesant, and the island went to Capt. Francis Fyn. But Fyn's ownership didn't last long. When the English defeated the Dutch in 1666, Captain John Manning seized and re-baptized the island with his last name. But 20 years later, Manning's son-in-law, Robert Blackwell, became the island's new owner and namesake.That name stuck for 235 years; meanwhile, Blackwell's great-grandson Jacob constructed the Blackwell House in 1796. Though modest, the house is Roosevelt Island's oldest landmark, New York City's sixth oldest house and, according to the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, one of the city's only remaining examples of 18th-century architecture. The City leased the island to the New York State Urban Development Corporation (UDC) for 99 years to build and manage this vision. Roosevelt Island is due to revert to City management in 2068.