Stranded on Roosevelt Island - Atlas Obscura
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Washington, D.C.

Stranded on Roosevelt Island

Go back in time as we take a hike through the forgotten and explosive history of Theodore Roosevelt Island.

Take a hike with Architect of the Capital's Elliot Carter & Sam Sharp of The Friends Of Roosevelt Island as we trace 300 years of hidden history at Roosevelt Island. 

Long before its transformation into a leafy national park, Roosevelt Island was put to an astounding variety of uses over the years. When Europeans first arrived in the area, Native Americans fled to the island as a means of quarantining themselves against infectious diseases. Later, it became the private property of forgotten founding father George Mason, who often welcomed visitors like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. During the Civil War, the island hosted the First U.S. Colored Troops, then briefly turned into a resort getaway—before serving as the perfect place for secretive explosives tests. 

Join us for a guided walk through this island's tumultuous history.


  • Meet on the Virginia side of the foot bridge (map), off George Washington Memorial Parkway.
  • There will be two tours: 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Please be aware which ticket you purchased.
  • Nearest Metro: Rosslyn. It's about a 12-minute walk from the island.
  • Driving: there is an adjacent parking lot here.
  • Fast paced 1.5-mile walking tour, please dress for the weather and bring water.



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