20 November 2007

NYC Buys Last Privately Owned East River Island

From 27 June 2007:

"Sometimes I come across stuff that I'm so excited to immortalise and share with you I barely have time to wrap my own head around them; my mind is typing faster than my fingers can think and I'm writing faster than I'm absorbing because I'm so excited... Often times, I'll just skim the article, pick up the main points, summarise it and post it here. Like right now, after I'm done typing out this entry, I'll actually go read for myself the article I'm alerting you all to go read. Do you follow? I hope so. Try and keep up. I work fast :)

Ever since I was a kid, well at least since school trips in long yellow buses with hunter green vinyl seats where you were high up enough to see down below over the sides, anytime I drove over the Verrazano Bridge, I've always noted the little unknown uninhabited islands in the water and wondered why they weren't filled with fancy people doing fancy things. The Narrows Yacht Club for instance...

Well, I just stumbled upon an article in New York Magazine about a guy who had also made note of these little egg-shaped islands from his vantage point in a 747 and decided he'd go and visit them; all of them, or at least as many as he could to see what he could see and find what he could find.

Related: Survivor: Brooklyn {Gothamist}"

So now New York City is buying the last privately owned island in the East River.

The 7-acre South Brother Island situated between the Bronx and Queens and within sight of Rikers Island is uninhabitated, and its dense forest is relatively untouched.

The island is being transferred to the city's Parks Department through a $2 million deal brokered by the feds.

Its previous owner had purchased the island from the city in 1975 for $10 !!!

The Parks Department intends to preserve the island as a bird sanctuary and for educational purposes.

A larger sibling, North Brother Island, was the site of the 1904 General Slokum steamboat disaster when more than a 1,000 people died.

As late as the 1960's, South Brother Island was considered part of Queens County, but is now part of Bronx County. It has long been privately owned.

Jacob Ruppert, a brewery magnate and early owner of the New York Yankees (responsible for bringing Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees from the Boston Red Sox), had a summer house on the island early in the 20th century. No one has lived on the island since then.

There are no structures extant. Through November 2007, it had been owned by Hampton Scows, Incorporated a Long Island company that dutifully paid property taxes every year but brought forth no plans to develop the 7-acre island.

The island's dense brush supports a major nesting colony of several species of birds, notably Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, and Double-crested Cormorant.

Together, the two Brother Islands, North and South, have a land area of 81,423 square meters, or 20.12 acres.

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