Thursday, September 18, 2014

Roosevelt Island's Color Scheme Spreads Into Manhattan

If you take the Roosevelt Island tram and look down at FDR Drive, you may notice a splash of red that wasn't there before.

An oft-overlooked sculpture called the East River Roundabout has been repainted crimson, giving it a similar look as the tramway and the red buses that circle Roosevelt Island.

I'm not sure if this is a deliberate effort to extend the Roosevelt Island color scheme to more of Manhattan, but it's a welcome change.

The sculpture, which had looked like a dreary, long-abandoned roller coaster, now enlivens the waterfront. 

It's still a bit of an oddball art installation. The work, dedicated in 1995, was meant to turn the roof of a former garbage transfer into an inviting plaza. Alice Aycock designed the 80-foot-long aluminum helix that sits atop the plaza. (You may remember Aycock as the artist behind the beautiful aluminum sculptures featured earlier this year along Park Avenue.) 

The East River Roundabout circa 1995. Photo courtesy of

I'm definitely an Aycock fan, but I'm not sure the original vision for the East River Roundabout ever came to fruition. When we briefly lived in that part of Midtown — not far from Sutton Place in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge — we strolled over to the plaza once. I can't say it was buzzing with people.

Will the new paint make it more of a destination? Hard to say, but it at least makes it less of an eyesore.