A Historian Who Is Also Current

Gifts Given to Roosevelt Island: #4 Judith Berdy

David Stone
Blackwell House is on Judy Berdy's radar.
Blackwell House is on Judy Berdy's radar.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Roosevelt Island would be a different place, if not for Judy Berdy's forty years of nonstop efforts on our behalf.

As our leading, local historian, Judy Berdy serves as a kind of community conscience, reminding newcomers and pioneers alike of the values that built the community and contributed to it even before it was planned.

Have a question about that long abandoned trolly that once dropped Roosevelt Island bound travelers at the elevator from the Queensboro Bridge? And why does Main Street pass the back entrance of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd instead of the front? Ask Judy.

Her activism in maintaining our awareness of the foundations on which our community rests is far-reaching and persistent.

For two decades, in spite every bureaucratic obstacle, she's held her ground in protecting and trying to return Blackwell House to useful life.

When it came time for Cornell Tech's build out to include demolishing Goldwater Hospital, it was Berdy who insisted on preserving the historical wall murals that might be lost. And not just that, she's continued to work with Cornell to find homes for the artwork elsewhere.

Berdy firmly maintained her insistence on preservation when we here at The Daily advocated tearing down the James Renwick designed Small Pox Hospital ruins. 

But she is not merely rooted in the past. Go to an opening at Gallery RIVAA, don't be surprised to see her there. When Cornell Tech and the Community Coalition get together for quarterly exchanges, Berdy is there to add her ideas and her good judgment to whatever is on the table.

All you need to do to appreciate Judy Berdy's gift to Roosevelt Island is land here from the Tram. The first Roosevelt Island presence is not a government welcoming but the Visitor Center she manages, housed in the preserved trolly booth she worked to help RIOC obtain from the MTA.

A Roosevelt Island Daily "Thank you!" to our inexhaustible resource, Judith Berdy.

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