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NYC: Roosevelt Island Tram

The Roosevelt Island Tramway is an aerial tramway in New York City that spans the East River and connects Roosevelt Island to Manhattan. It is the only commuter aerial tramway in North America. Each cabin has a capacity of up to 125 people and makes approximately 115 trips per day. The tram moves at about 16 miles per hour and travels 3,100 feet in 4.5 minutes. At its peak it climbs to 250 feet above the East River as it follows its route on the north side of the Queensboro Bridge.


Historically Roosevelt Island was connected to Manhattan by a trolley line that crossed over the Queensboro Bridge. Trolleys westbound from Queens stopped halfway the bridge to meet an elevator, which then took passengers down to the island. As the only connection to the rest of the city from the island, the trolley remained in service until 1957, long after most other trolley service had been dismantled in the city, and was the last trolley line in New York State.


Beginning in the mid-1970's, Roosevelt Island was redeveloped to accommodate low- to mid-income housing projects, necessitating the construction of a new public transit connection to the city. The trolley tracks had deteriorated too much to be usable and the planned subway connection to the island (the IND 63rd Street Line) had not yet been completed. The tramway was built in 1976 by the Swiss company Von Roll as a temporary transportation solution to the island. As the subway project fell further behind schedule, the "Tram" became more popular and was converted into a permanent facility. The subway connection to the island was finally completed in 1988.

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Taken on April 28, 2003