A small port, fishing boats, a few sailboats. Here, a seafood restaurant, there, an ice cream counter. No, you are not in New England, but in New York. In the Bronx, more precisely. Accessible by public transport (at the very end of the “green line” to the north, then after a short bus ride), City Island is a small island (less than 3 km⁠2) quite exotic, thank you, where the weather is good stroll along the main street.

There are no chain restaurants here. Nor souvenir shops. Rather, authentic little retro boutiques, a vintage toy store, picturesque houses (including the summer house of the Tenenbaum family from the film of the same name!), and a handful of seafood restaurants, well established for centuries. decades. We were tempted by the Crab Shanty, renowned for its copious portions, where the New Yorker praised the Rockefeller oysters. Otherwise, the island is a must for fishing enthusiasts, with several day and night trips being offered here. Also note that City Island is located directly opposite Hart Island, New York’s famous island cemetery, where many stillborn, unknown and homeless babies have been buried since the 19th century. . During the pandemic, unclaimed bodies have also been buried here. Oh yes, good news, just opposite, on the continent, there is also yet another well-kept secret: a magnificent and wide (free) fine sand municipal beach, Orchard Beach. Something to keep in mind for the next hot day!

Gateway to the United States, nearly 12 million immigrants have passed through here: Ellis Island, accessible by ferry only, in tandem with the trip to the Statue of Liberty (and by reservation only; a tip, take the first time slots in the morning to avoid long queues later in the day!), is done in half a day.

In our humble opinion, under-exploited, the Immigration Museum (the unique attraction of the island) is still worth the detour, if only for the historical journey it offers. The exhibition, divided on several levels, looks back in particular on the journey of immigrants, between 1890 and 1954, huge black and white portraits, statistics, artifacts and other testimonies included. Medical inspections (in six seconds flat!), mental inspections, detention room, dormitory, everything goes through, mainly in texts and photos. We would definitely have taken more reconstructions. A welcoming land, you say? We further learn that only 2% of immigrants here were refused entry. The result: In 1910, 75% of the population of New York, Chicago, Cleveland and Boston were immigrants (or children of immigrants). Closed in the 1950s, the space served as a hospital in 1918 and as a detention center during the two world wars.

For a little getaway at the end of the day, Roosevelt Island is definitely ideal. If only because the way to get there is frankly unique: by cable car! Admit it’s charming. It’s accessible right in the city, at the corner of 59th Street and 2nd Avenue; All you need is a metro ticket and that’s it, you won’t regret the trip (of a few minutes). Not to mention all the possible shots from the air and then once you arrive on the ground. Here, the sunset between the skyscrapers is breathtaking. In season, we come here as a bonus for splendid photos of the cherry blossoms. There was a real crowd when we visited two weeks ago.

You should know that the small, narrow island in the East River (barely 200 meters wide) has long been called Welfare Island by New Yorkers. For good reason: it has in turn housed a penitentiary (closed in 1935), hospitals (one remains: Cornell Tech, a most modern campus established a few years ago), even asylums (notably the “Lunatic Asilum » whose entrance – the Octagon – built in 1839 has been completely renovated, and today serves as a chic gateway for residents of an adjacent complex). In 1973, the island was renamed in honor of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Today, people come there for a change of scenery, to stroll along the water, facing Manhattan, and for two viewpoints: to the north, the lighthouse (1872) and to the south, above all, the ruins of the Smallpox Hospital (opened in 1856), astonishing Gothic ruins of this establishment once dedicated to smallpox (closed then abandoned in the 1950s). To get from one end to the other, you walk, jump on a City Bike or take the bus (“red bus”, free). Once rather disreputable, Roosevelt Island is now very popular, housing some 12,000 residents.

If you’ve been through New York lately, you’ve probably stopped by this unique artificial island, with many concrete feet shaped like tulips (132, to be precise). Did you know ? A true aerial park, reached by two footbridges along the Hudson River, the island, inaugurated in 2021, is located alongside the old Pier 54, the same place where the survivors of the Titanic landed in 1912. We owe its funding – a few hundred million, one of the most generous private donations for a public park – to businessman Barry Diller (founder, among others, of the Fox Broadcasting Company).

What are we doing there? Admire the architecture (Heatherwick Studio), enjoy the view (unique towards the tip of Manhattan), appreciate the vegetation, have fun with the public art installations, and above all stretch out on a bench, in the pretty outdoor amphitheater (where cultural programming is promised in the summer). Ideal after a long day of walking. To grab a bite to eat, we strongly advise you to go just a stone’s throw away, to Pier 57, the Market offering some of the best plates at New York’s food fairs, according to the Eater website. Special mention to the masala mosa from Ammi (Indian pancake) and the juicy beef salad from Zaab Zaab (a Thai restaurant ranked among the best in town according to the New York Times). Finally, while you are there, don’t miss the park built on the roof, for a breath of fresh air and this splendid view of the unique adjacent island.