Hold me closer
August 9, 2017 12:05 AM   Subscribe

 
Very interesting.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:24 AM on August 9


u thant make this stuff up
posted by fairmettle at 12:35 AM on August 9 [25 favorites]


That was great. I love how islands can sometimes be very local to big cities and also so obscure and hard to get to. For example here in Edinburgh we have Inchkeith which has served as a quarantine location for people with syphilis, a bastion for the French navy, a base for an experimental fog horn and a location of an experiment to discover whether an infant raised by mute nurses would, in fact, grow up speaking "the original language of God". The whole city looks out at this island - but to get there you will need your own boat - and preferably a hard hat to protect you from attacking herring gulls.
posted by rongorongo at 1:20 AM on August 9 [12 favorites]


That canoe tipped over at a very convenient moment for someone who wanted to visit an off-limits island.
posted by plastic_animals at 3:56 AM on August 9 [23 favorites]


Oh, there's even more islands in New York Harbor. There's North and South Brother Island - one of them is also a nature sanctuary, but sometimes the Audobon society leads tours there. There's a couple of islands in Queens that are part of the Jamaica Bay wildlife preserve. There are smaller islands off Staten Island.

The thing about a lot of these little islands, too, is that back in the day when Scarlet Fever and Typhoid Fever and Yellow Fever were A Thing, that's where the city set up the contagious-disease hospitals, so visiting them today....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:39 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Cumbria has Piel Island with a history involving a lot of smuggling and an official King - a title awarded to the landlord of the Isle's sole pub by the local council.
posted by quarsan at 4:40 AM on August 9


After that dunking, I hope he got a tetanus shot.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:01 AM on August 9


Oh, well done, young man. Seriously, I loved that.
posted by allthinky at 5:07 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


It's not named on the nautical charts, they give the height of the tower but no indication of landing restrictions. It is in the restricted area of the UN, don't try to putter around that area times that the UN is in session.
posted by sammyo at 5:12 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]




not quite New York, but Plum Island out at the end of Long Island was/is used for US bioweapons research
posted by indubitable at 5:24 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Listed on google maps a Belmont Island.

Under the broken down peace arch there's a time capsule with papers and U Thant's favorite tie clasp!
posted by sammyo at 6:31 AM on August 9


Scotland also has Gruinard island, which is best to avoid for reasons that its alternative name makes clear: 'Anthrax Island'
posted by biffa at 6:39 AM on August 9


So... did he lose his camera or what's the deal with that?
posted by mr_bovis at 6:47 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Here's an island I wouldn't mind visiting but I wouldn't want to live there...
posted by jim in austin at 6:47 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


U Thant touch this (island).
posted by duffell at 6:51 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


"Thant" rhymes with "want", not "can't", as the author could have discovered by going on Wikipedia, or if he's not a fan of IPA, watching this video helpfully titled "How to Pronounce U Thant".
posted by J.K. Seazer at 7:09 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


I need closure on that God-language baby
posted by um at 7:09 AM on August 9 [15 favorites]


I'm a little fascinated by Roosevelt Island, the big residential island just next to U Thant. To EmpressCallipygos' point, there used to be a smallpox hospital on the island. The ruins show up a lot in TV shows and videogames as a creepy remote place right next to Manhattan. The new Cornell campus is going up on the grounds of another former hospital.

You can get to the island by subway, but the fun way to get there is via the Tramway that goes sailing in the air from Manhattan across the river. Roosevelt Island has all sorts of weird urban experiments. It also has a pneumatic garbage system dating to 1975.

It looks like a great place to have a barbeque in the middle of summer. Lots of grills in the park along the river.
posted by Nelson at 7:21 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Finally, a documentary sized for my atrophied attention span. That was fun.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:31 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Here's an island I wouldn't mind visiting but I wouldn't want to live there...

Thousand Islands looks like such a cool place to visit.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:48 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I need closure on that God-language baby.

Spoke Hebrew, obv.
posted by Segundus at 7:51 AM on August 9


The Thousand Islands are pretty neat to live near, this is true.
posted by Kitteh at 7:52 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I'm a little fascinated by Roosevelt Island, the big residential island just next to U Thant. To EmpressCallipygos' point, there used to be a smallpox hospital on the island. The ruins show up a lot in TV shows and videogames as a creepy remote place right next to Manhattan. The new Cornell campus is going up on the grounds of another former hospital.

(disclaimer: self-link included) I actually hit up Roosevelt Island and the smallpox hospital ruins as part of an old piece for Atlas Obscura. It's a weird situation, because on the one hand the building itself is architecturally significant and is landmarked as such; but on the other hand, it was a smallpox hospital. So tearing it down would wreck the landmark, but letting people in could cause an epidemic. So they have it standing, but surrounded by a big tall chain-link fence about 20 feet around the perimeter, so you can look but not touch. The hospital is right next to the Four Freedoms Park, a new park space right at the very southern tip of the island, and there are people crawling all over the park right by the fence to the hospital so I'm guessing that's safe enough.

Roosevelt Island is bigger than you'd think, though - most of it is just apartment buildings. But the promenade around the perimeter is a nice walk, and I think here and there there's a waterside restaurant or picnic spot too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:15 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I used to live on the upper east side and visited Rossevelt Island a few times. Half the fun is riding the Tramway.
posted by freakazoid at 8:18 AM on August 9


in Edinburgh we have Inchkeith which has served as a quarantine location for people with syphilis, a bastion for the French navy

In that order?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:30 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Smithsonian article on North Brother Island.

And also Hart Island: "Family members, accompanied by guests, may visit grave sites of their family members on one weekend day per month.... Other members of the public are permitted to visit by prior appointment only.... In 2017, the City increased the number of allowable visitors per month from 50 to 70."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:31 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


A film by a friend of a friend.... Roosevelt Island, Land without Dogs
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:37 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


"Thant" rhymes with "want", not "can't"

Thank god! For a second, I thought I'd been lied to during my 6th-grade class trip to the U.N. (pronounced You Enn, not the Un).
posted by sixpack at 8:49 AM on August 9


Really, aren't we all just tiny piles of shit-stained rocks barely distinguishable from the surrounding torrent of ooze?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:07 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


> A film by a friend of a friend.... Roosevelt Island, Land without Dogs yt

That is a fascinating film, thanks. And screw them -- my dog doesn't want to go to your crappy island, anyway!
posted by tonycpsu at 9:20 AM on August 9




Ok, here is where I can drop my random little known fact. Manhattan may be the name of the Island on which most of the borough of Manhattan sits, but the borough of Manhattan is not all on that island in the Hudson River. I have won several bar bets with the claim that Manhattan is not an island. Up at the northern end of the island, near the Broadway bridge there is a little piece of Manhattan, Marble Hill, that is actually on the other side, what most would say is the Bronx side, of the river. The Wikipedia article says it is the only part of Manhattan on "the mainland of North America" It is where the Target sits just off the Deagan and just across the river. Apparently, at one point in time the Harlem River either naturally moved or was moved.

Here is a NY Times link about it.
posted by AugustWest at 9:25 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


It's really more of a "Oneness Pile of Debris" isn't it?
posted by Naberius at 9:32 AM on August 9


It seems like a fair bit of work to take debris from directly below where the island eventually ended up and place them there, doesn't it? I guess if there was no convenient dumping ground anywhere nearby...

We have a tiny island as well. There's never been a tiny spit of land people haven't wanted to build on, as ill-advised as that seems.
posted by maxwelton at 9:41 AM on August 9


At the other end of the Atlantic Coast is one of my favorite islands, Sunset Key, a few hundred yards off the shore of Key West. Like U Thant, Sunset Key is actually man-made. Key West used to be a major naval facility, used mainly for refueling and resupply. There's still a Naval Air Station there. As ships got larger and required more draft, the Navy decided they needed to make the harbor deeper. So they dredged a few metric fucktons of coral out of the bottom and dumped it nearby, forming a roughly 27-acre island.

This provided a convenient place to put large oil storage tanks and so the Navy - always up for a flight of imaginative whimsy - gave the place it's official name: Tank Island.

Eventually, it was sold off and a developer got their hands on it. They figured Sunset Key would sell a lot better than Tank Island, so that's what it's called. But they apparently didn't have the pull to actually rename it so the island's official name is still Tank Island. These days about half of it is a Westin Resort Hotel and the other half is stately homes belonging to people like Jack Welch and Oprah Winfrey.

You can go there. There's a small boat that ferries people back and forth to the Westin every hour or so. You can even get married on the Westin's private beach that they had barged over from Jamaica. But it won't be cheap. And there's no Oneness Arch.
posted by Naberius at 9:46 AM on August 9


"Thant" rhymes with "want", not "can't"

Oops, I realize now that that's North American-centric. Let's switch in "rant" for "can't". That works, right?
posted by J.K. Seazer at 9:49 AM on August 9




Doesn't Garol live and work there?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:13 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Apparently, at one point in time the Harlem River either naturally moved or was moved.

They built a new shipping passage in the late 1800s to accommodate increased ship traffic. You can see the way it used to look on old maps available from NYPL. This Inwood blog has a bunch of information about it.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:52 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Inchkeith isn't really in Edinburgh, just between the Edinburgh and Fife coastlines in the Forth. London's islands in the Thames are a bit dull, even if Eel Pie Island has the coolest name.

My favourite in-city islands hereabouts (ie, Scotland) are those in Perth on the Tay. There are a few, but the biggest is Moncrieffe Island, which has its own golf club and allotments. The downside is that the Tay basically drains the Highlands and has an immense flow, and when things get rainy or melty then the islands - and Perth, basically - tends to get floody with it.

But on a nice sunny day, the whole river thereabouts takes on an almost psychedelically intense primeval jungle vibe, because of all the trees and the sweep of the sand bars.
posted by Devonian at 12:44 PM on August 9


"Despite a total lack of experience and a quickly-approaching thunderstorm..."

Fools indeed rush in. Yikes.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:57 PM on August 9


All of the artificial islands around here are either tunnel portals or decommissioned fortresses. Here's an interesting one that's both: Fort Wool
posted by indubitable at 1:02 PM on August 9


Creepy NY Times article on Hart Island.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:02 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Also on his google history:

"wildlife protections loopholes"
"wildlife protections vs safety/rescue"
"How do I make it look like I accidentally tipped a canoe."
"Best camera angle to hide stern-man leaning overboard"
posted by stobor at 2:13 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Charleston, South Carolina has one of these too, Shutes Folly Island, home to Castle Pinckney and, last time I checked, also not someplace you're allowed to go to.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:26 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Excellent video editing on the canoe ride.
posted by maryr at 3:54 PM on August 9


not quite New York, but Plum Island out at the end of Long Island was/is used for US bioweapons research

Errr, I can't speak to the past, but these days it's Foreign Animal Disease Research. More saving American cattle than bioweapons - lots of research on foot and mouth disease, for example.

It's on an island so that any waste, etc that escapes will be contained. You can't bring food in, so there's a provided cafeteria, but that still sucks for lunch. Sometimes deer swim out to the island and DHS has to go out and shoot them. (All per the guy I met at robotics training who worked there.)
posted by maryr at 4:15 PM on August 9


Perhaps the best city island where inadvisable things happened is Duck Island in a lake in St James Park in the centre of London, within spitting distance of 10 Downing Street, which used to be a facility for the bomb disposal squad...
posted by Devonian at 4:56 PM on August 9


Zug Island (probable source of some annoying/mysterious noises) in Detroit is not welcoming uninvited guests.
posted by ovvl at 6:15 PM on August 9


Errr, I can't speak to the past, but these days it's Foreign Animal Disease Research. More saving American cattle than bioweapons - lots of research on foot and mouth disease, for example.

Plum Island was host to a cold war Army biowarfare research center from 1952 to 1969, first run by the dean of the Cornell University veterinary school and the leading Nazi germ warfare expert. There's a book called Lab 257 that points out that outbreaks of Dutch duck plague, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus were all first observed within a few miles of the island. People I know who live out on the East End of LI believe all sorts of crazy things about the place. The island is mentioned in Silence of the Lambs, it's the location of the jail that Clarice offers to Lecter in exchange for his cooperation.

Next to Plum is Gardiner's Island, an island privately owned by the same family since it was bought from the Montaukett tribe in 1638 as the first English colony in New York. It has a colorful history which includes treasure buried by the pirate William Kidd, was involved in one of the earlier witch hunts in English colonies, and, in modern times, colorful inhabitants.
posted by peeedro at 6:25 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


They figured Sunset Key would sell a lot better than Tank Island, so that's what it's called. But they apparently didn't have the pull to actually rename it so the island's official name is still Tank Island. These days about half of it is a Westin Resort Hotel and the other half is stately homes belonging to people like Jack Welch and Oprah Winfrey.

Which is quite a contrast to its neighbor Wisteria Island (aka Christmas Tree Island). It's undeveloped and hosts a squatter community. Because of ownership disputes and zoning codes, development has been stalled for decades.
posted by peeedro at 7:17 PM on August 9


The only way this could have been better... maybe one way this could have been better is if his tattoos had all been temporary and every time they showed they'd be in a different position, because continuity is hard. That would have made this good short documentary great.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:54 AM on August 10


Perhaps the best city island where inadvisable things happened is Duck Island in a lake in St James Park in the centre of London, within spitting distance of 10 Downing Street, which used to be a facility for the bomb disposal squad...
(It seems like the exact story of why Duck Island was chosen as a site for IED disposal - and what happened there - is difficult to work out. But it seems to have been something to do with a Frenchman; this one. It seems like the basic technique was to carefully put the IED into a wicker basket, take it by wheelbarrow to Duck Island and then crush it with a heavy duty hydraulic press. On the basis of apparently similar arrangements in Paris - operatives might work 1 week in 5 and have the rest of the time off to "recover from nerves".)
posted by rongorongo at 2:24 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]



"Thant" rhymes with "want", not "can't", as the author could have discovered by going on Wikipedia, or if he's not a fan of IPA, watching this video helpfully titled "How to Pronounce U Thant".


I was also wondering whether the "h" in the "th" was silent, as in many languages, whether they're ones that use Roman script or ones that don't but that use the "th" to indicate a breathy "T" when they're rendered in Roman script (India's Sanskrit-based languages are one example), or whether the "th" represented the same sound we use in English (or Icelandic, or...).

It turns out Burmese is one of the minority of languages that do use our "th" sound, if this Redditor's map's sources are correct.
posted by Philofacts at 9:39 AM on August 10


« Older Bloody Good Bar Fight Song   |   But you don't get to take their words for it Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments