Giddy Like a Tourist on the Roosevelt Island Tram

I finally rode the Roosevelt Island Tram for the first time. If you saw me at the station you would have thought I was a kid waiting in line at Disney World, not a NY local boarding public transportation. I’ve lived in this town for almost seven years and I still muster tourist-level excitement for NYC attractions. I refused to get on the tram that was full of people and about to leave the station. “No! We have to wait for the next one! I want the best view! I need the best seats!”


The Roosevelt Island Tramway connects the tiny residential and recreational island to the island Manhattan. The only other access is by subway. A couple of cables suspended north of the Queensboro Bridge is all it takes for this aerial tramway to fly across the East River. Flying across the East River is all it takes for me to flip out about how much I love this city. “This is so cool!”

Roosevelt Island Tram 1
There goes the tram car I refused to get on! That little car is full of 100 people who all just soared across the river.

“I wonder if it will be scary!”

“I’m going to take so many pictures!”


I apologize to anyone who took this tram with me. I was unabashedly obnoxious, spouting off insipid exclamations and running around the whole tram car to get different views. I suppose there’s a chance you found me endearing- the excitement was 100% genuine.

Up, up, and away we go!
Roosevelt Island Tramway Cross
This is embarrassing. I was so excited that when we passed another tramcar I waved. Total tourist moment. How cool is this picture though?
Roosevelt Island Tramway UES
Hello Upper East Side!
Roosevelt Island Tramway Bridge View
River crossed, now it’s concrete jungle and the streets below us.
Roosevelt Island Tramway inside
This is the what it looks like inside the tram. Crowded! I made my way through all these people to get a view from the opposite side of the tram car.
Roosevelt Island Tramway side view
Here’s a north side view as I made may way to the back.
Roosevelt Island Tramway Queensboro Bridge
The opposite view! That’s where we just came from!
Roosevelt Island Tramway
On the ground of the Manhattan Tram Station. Destination reached.!

A little voice inside me said, “Again! Again!” I was strongly tempted to take the next tram bound for Roosevelt Island so I could get the view of that perspective. I resisted, “Who do you think I am, a tourist?” I squashed the little voice. “I’m a New Yorker! An easily excited and giddy New Yorker who’s still totally in love with this city…But a New Yorker just the same! I have shit to do, I don’t have time to take a trip back to Roosevelt Island just for the hell of it!” My feet were back on the ground of Manhattan.

If you live in NYC, do it- escape to Roosevelt Island. While suspended on a cable over a river may just find you suspend your jaded New Yorker tendencies. The cost is that of a subway ride: free with an unlimited Metrocard, $5 without. If you’re visiting the city, I highly recommend it too. This trip is not exactly a tourist cliché attraction and that makes it even more special.

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

19 thoughts on “Giddy Like a Tourist on the Roosevelt Island Tram

  1. I’ve lived here my whole life and just rode this for the first time about two months ago! While the views are awesome, I couldn’t rid myself of the fear of the cables snapping and all of us plunging into the water below :p Needless to say I was pleased when we reached the other side.

  2. I’m SO glad you wrote this — every time I go to NYC I say I’m going to do this, and I never have. We’re going back in March & I’m adding this to the must-do list. We’ve visited enough times that we can skip the big tourist attractions & focus on the fun stuff like this! 😀

    1. That’s exciting you’re visiting in March! I’m excited for you to branch out a bit with NYC activities 🙂 If you want any suggestions let me know. We’re all hoping for an early spring- if you’re visiting in late March maybe, just maybe it won’t be snowy and cold!

      1. I would LOVE more suggestions! We will be there in early March, but honestly, I don’t mind the cold so much. The bitter cold, sure, that’s tough, but December wasn’t bad at all.

    1. Yes! I’m always that “love everything about skiing uh….except actual skiing and snow” girl. The best parts of skiing- fireplace, hot cocoa, and trams- are right here in NYC.

    1. Absolutely do it! But yeah….maybe wait until spring and make it a trip to see the cherry blossoms too. Or accidentally miss your stop on the F train (happened to me once), you could do that too!

    1. Ha! Great minds and like-minded jostlers we are 🙂
      Are you going to blog about it? Looking forward to the post if you are!

  3. Great photos Mary! I had no idea that even existed and would definitely be on my “To Do” list if I was lucky enough to visit. I can totally relate to your excitement. I rode on the now closed monorail in Sydney when I was there a couple of years ago and my sister and I were just like you. Granted we were tourists but if I lived in Sydney I’m sure I’d have been the same.
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    1. There’s just something about unconventional forms of travel that is exciting. It is funny how little-know the RI tram is…I wouldn’t be surprised if island residence would like it to stay that way…
      Also it’s a great and unique view but it’s not NYC iconic (or cliche).
      Sad the monorail in Sydney is closed but thrilled you got to ride before its demise!

  4. This may be going on my list for next time I’m in the city! We have a tram in Portland too and it’s exciting to get all the views even though I’ve lived here forever.
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    1. If you’re visiting NYC in the spring, apparently there are beautiful cherry blossoms that line the island- just learned from the comment-er below who lives on RI. Another reason to go in addition to the tram. If I’m ever in Portland I’ll have to check out your west coast version 🙂

  5. Thanks for coming to visit us on RI! I have lived here since 1979 and still enjoy the tram, and take it every chance I can…it’s by far the best way to commute. Hope you come back in the spring and check out the gorgeous cherry blossoms that line the river.

    1. What a great tip! I will make it a point to come back in the spring (just what I need this week, another reason to long for spring! :)) Lucky you and your commute!

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