We weren’t looking for anything in particular when we discovered the invisible.
It was supposed to be a day for resting. We decided to take a subway and stroll up the East side. Though we had recently been there we had not yet located the famed sky tram between Manhattan and its small neighbor, Roosevelt Island. We had a simple plan. Find the tram, make the round trip to Roosevelt Island, and head home.
It started as a bright and uneventful morning. Exiting the subway, we walked a few blocks to find the towering entry to a red tram labelled Roosevelt Island. The tram was running slow, as one of the platforms is under repair. We waited our turn to board, listening to a pleasant mix of languages mingling between the sounds of traffic, and the pounding of repairs on the adjacent platform.
Entering the tram, we were fortunate to find seats by the window. The views were incredible as we crossed the East River alongside the Queensboro Bridge. The sight of Roosevelt Island, draped in green was a welcoming sight for this lazy day. Before our tram landed 5 minutes later, we knew we would have to explore this extraordinary place.
Island maps were $1 at the visitor’s center and we decided to invest. The island was much smaller than we originally thought. A lighthouse at the north end, a park at the south, and a small town in the center. We headed north and found the lighthouse, built in 1872 with prison labor. While the lighthouse itself was not particularly remarkable, it stood proudly on the island edge diligently protecting ships from the rocky shoreline. The public park around the lighthouse was welcoming.
The island is circled by a treed promenade and an ample supply of park benches where you can sit in the shade and gaze on the New York skyline. Following it to the south we passed scenic outlooks, large trees and beautiful gardens. That is when it struck us.
We discovered quiet. Yes, real, genuine quiet. No sirens, or jackhammers. No horns, no road noise, and no noisy wind tunnels. Just the sound of waves gently crashing on the shore, birds singing, and a gentle breeze shaking the turning leaves.
As we continued our walk we soaked in the calm and appreciated our newly found escape.
At the south stands the grand ruins of an 1800’s Smallpox hospital which was later converted to a nursing school. It was abandoned in the 1950’s. The aging structure reminded me of an old woman, creased with wrinkles but with her beauty still shining through. Somehow it seems as though she deserved a better past.
We completed our trip around the island, and caught a ferry back to Manhattan. Gone was the peace and quiet, but it was nice to remember the sounds of silence.