Posts Tagged ‘Man O War reef’

The East River island you’re not allowed to visit

March 10, 2010

That would be U Thant Island (officially known as Belmont Island), a rocky spit of land just south of Roosevelt Island in the East River. It ranks as the tiniest of New York City’s dozens of little islets.

Doesn’t look like a bad place to catch some sun, right? Unfortunately, people aren’t allowed there. This half-acre is maintained by the parks department as a bird sanctuary.

So what’s with the odd and unofficial name? Originally called Man ‘O War reef, it was created with landfill from trolley tunnels dug under the East River.¬†Augustus Belmont Jr., of Belmont Park and subway financier fame, completed the job and got naming rights.

In the 1970s, mostly forgotten, it was unofficially renamed U Thant Island (after the former U.N. Secretary General from Burma) by a group of U.N. employees who followed a mystic in Queens.