Tram Cabins: A Few Resident Ideas

The WIRE queried Islanders from all different organizations about what they would do, if it were up to them, with the old Trams, currently resting behind a fence on the east side of Motorgate. Some of the ideas may surprise you, but the common desire to do something with these artifacts of our shared history will not. In response to the same query, RIOC confirmed that, “As of today, there are no plans for the old Tram cabins.”


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Jeffrey Escobar

One idea that seems to consistently crop up in various meetings with differing groups is re-purposing the cabins to be used as an interactive children’s exhibit or historical exhibit relating to the Tram, how it came to be, the history of Roosevelt Island, with informative plaques throughout and audio that comes on when a button is pressed. The exhibit could be placed near the Historical Society’s Welcome Center, in the open spaces at Southpoint Park, or at the Con Ed Steam Plant, which some believe should be converted to a museum.

Another thought would be to convert the Trams into greenhouses and donate them to PS/IS 217 for their Green Roof project. By converting and donating the Trams into mini-greenhouses, not only would we be repurposing them, but we would also be helping our local school reduce costs associated with the green roof while providing further teaching spaces. One could still require historical placards to educate students about the Tram and its use as a green alternative for transportation.


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Judy Buck

They should be used as free, or virtually free, meeting places for small community groups; practice studios for saxophonists and vocalists; a place to take children for a picnic on a rainy day, prepped with fun stuff. They could be converted into port-a-potties for tourists. Include an air mattress and a bucket and rent as cozy studio apartment with spectacular views for $3,000 a month. Kidding. I think.


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Sherie Helstien

Years ago, we tried to convince RIOC to put them into an area of open space, placing tables inside for kids to use for reading, coloring or drawing.
They could also be nice “reading rooms” in inclement weather in Southpoint Park or some open space, maybe by the soccer field.
Tad Sudol [RIVAA] had an idea and drew a rendition of the giant wheels: to hang above the dead escalator [in Motorgate], which should also be repaired, but never will be. Maybe the wheels can be attached in a stabilized position on the escalator stairs.


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Eva Bosbach

I like the idea of an interactive playground/exploration space, someone brought this up a few years ago as an idea. I mentioned it at the meeting for the Southpoint Park consultations. I think it would be great to put them there (in Southpoint Park) because it would combine the element of displaying Island artifacts for residents and visitors to see, and the possibility for children (and adults!) to explore and play.


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Leila Vujosevic

I attended the first Southpoint Community Advisory Committee meeting a couple of weeks ago; I always envisioned that part of the Island as exploratory grounds for children - something that would not be “set in stone” but rather a dynamic, constantly changing space, transformed through our experience.

How about including the two old Tram cars in that concept – I don’t know exactly how, but that would evolve from the overall exploratory theme of Southpoint Park. They should definitely be accessible to children so they can go in and “manipulate” them somehow, and be interactive in some way.


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Susana Del Campo Perea

We can use them and adapt them as playgrounds for the winter.

Move them to the atrium of Motorgate, where there are “crystal walls” all around and a roof. Repaint the Trams to look cool in vibrant red, add a slide and monkey bars in one, the other one put in toddler (2-5 years) equipment inside and outside and we have an inside play space for the winter every year!

Or move the Trams to the atrium and convert one or two to classrooms. Make it so preschoolers and kindergartners, Music Together and Sunday school (Hope, Catholics, Jewish, Protestant, and Muslim) can use it for FREE any day of the week. There is a lot of space inside the Trams. They can definitely hold 25 kids inside.


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Christina Delfico

Yes! A Tram Garden. We should use theTram as a living urban garden art installation where families can walk through and see, touch, taste, basil and jalapeño peppers growing before their eyes. The Tram Garden will inspire creativity showing us unusual ways to grow food within the built environment of big cities. Cities now are looking for creative ways to feed city dwellers locally.

A good reference for something like this is the Milan-hosted World Expo focusing on feeding the planet.


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Judy Berdy

We wanted an old Tram at the ceremony [to celebrate the Tram’s 40th anniversary], but they are planted firmly at Motorgate so they could not be moved. Cornell and Tishman were consulted but they could not come up with a way to move them for the event.

Originally, my idea was to put one on a flatbed that could be hitched to a pickup truck and brought out for events like Roosevelt Island Day, the Halloween Parade, and so on.

The facade of one could be removed and become a storefront.

Putting it permanently on the Tram lawn is not practical since nothing can be under the cables.


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Rossana Ceruzzi

Convert to housing for stray cats.


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Erin Olavesen

Studio apartments with a river view?

Weld them to the front of Island House and extend the square footage of Trellis?

Make them covered bus stops along Main Street?

I’d really like to sit inside, chat with friends and neighbors, and enjoy a gin and tonic on a warm summer afternoon!

At the very least I’d like for them to be put on display, with doors opened, for all to enjoy.


Jim Bates

Kids should be able to play in them, but they should be outfitted with historical stuff inside them so they’re educational too.

Tags: People Tram Island Life

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