Home / Blog / Photo Tour: Roosevelt Island AND Sign Up For Our Photo Walk!


Hey Photographer! Spring is only a few short weeks away (crazy, right?!), and you’ll have more opportunities to venture outdoors and put your camera to good use! With our very own Photo Walk happening on April 14th (click here to reserve your spot!), we’re using this post to highlight another great place in NYC – Roosevelt Island! This narrow, two-mile island sits right on the East River between Manhattan and Queens, and is a pleasant, quiet escape from the typical hustle and bustle of other city neighborhoods.

Take a 3-minute tram ride to the island, which is located at 59th Street and 2nd Avenue, and experience a magical, aerial view of the Ed Koch Bridge, East Manhattan Skyline, and the East River itself. You’ll also catch a glimpse of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, located at the southern tip. This lush, green memorial is great for lounging and holds events in the warmer months, but photography is prohibited within the park without a permit, so be prepared to shoot quickly from the tram. If you’re visiting for several hours, try to ride back to Manhattan after sunset so you can capture the glorious lights of the city at night. A tram ride isn’t your style? Take the F train to the Roosevelt Island stop instead.

Above Four Freedoms Park is Renwick Ruins, an abandoned smallpox hospital that is overgrown with green ivy. Although you can’t physically enter the ruins, its Gothic-like, haunting feel can provide awesome context to photographs.
If you’re looking to experience art, be sure to check out Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA), a gallery open Wednesdays and Fridays 6–9pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 11–5pm. The space features the work of painters, sculptors, photographers, graphic designers, and so on, so you’re bound to find inspiration from other artists.

The Island is also home to the Cornell Tech Campus, which features beautiful, modern architecture with floor to ceiling glass windows (look for lines, angles, etc!) and a public cafe and lawn. Chill, eat, and capture some photo magic!

If you to travel north, you’ll come across the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, a historic, Victorian Gothic church with a stone and brick exterior, and an equally beautiful interior. Head inside to practice shooting in lower light! From here, continue on up to Blackwell Island Lighthouse, which is at the northern tip of Roosevelt Island. The structure is made of stone and bears a tall, thin, and octagonal shape. You can shoot up close and play around with fun angles (try standing a foot or two in front of it and pointing your camera up along the side of the lighthouse), shoot from far away, experiment with the rule of thirds and negative space, and see what you come up with!
Happy shooting!
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