Good Intentions Gone Awry

New From RIOC: Map & Self-Guided Tour of Roosevelt Island That Isn't

Updated 2 years ago David Stone
New From RIOC: Map & Self-Guided Tour of Roosevelt Island That Isn't

Early this month, local resident and marketing consultant Janet Falk discovered something in a visit to Sportspark: a Roosevelt Island NYC Map and Self-Guided Tour produced by RIOC. There has been no public announcement and copies were not provided to the Historical Society's Visitor Center. We can only hope it was a limited printing - very limited - of a brochure, riddled with errors, that gives every indication that it was composed by someone unfamiliar with Roosevelt Island.

Numerous mistakes are immediately evident to anyone who knows the area.

Most immediate, as Falk points out, "There are no people in any of the photos... This is absurd."

It's true.

The West Pier, a row of benches under cherry blossoms, FDR Four Freedoms Park, Good Shepherd Plaza, etc... None has a living soul anywhere in the scene. It's as if they were banished in a Village of the Damned evacuation. Either that or someone stayed up all night searching high and low for pictures with nobody in them.

And damned poor pictures at that - colors washed out, perspectives awkward and unappealing, and a view of the Tram that looks as exciting as a cab ride.

RIOC could not have done a better job of illustrating its disconnection with the community, had they tried.

"The island needs promotional literature and RIOC has spent a pretty penny on this glossy four-color brochure, rife with shortcomings," Falk concludes in her review. "Surely, they will do better with the next one."

But that goes easy on the culprits responsible.

Space doesn't allow for detailing every error, but here are some gems:

  • In a comical car wreck of a sentence, Main Street is described as "Designed to maximize river views from the buildings, it echoes a walled medieval city." Yes, you read that right. The Main Street canyon "echoes a walled medieval city." Which one with maximized river views is not explained.
  • Riverwalk Commons, complimented on the map with a fork and spoon icon, which assumes everyone gets it, is shown as located at the subway station. The F Train has been relocated north of Starbucks.
  • Other dining locations are found across from Blackwell House and somewhere behind Westview.
  • But not to worry, along with the "island's history" and "names, locations and descriptions of businesses," we need only go to, we're told, where - you guessed it - there are no such things. (RIOC's website continues to be noncompliant, after two years, with the law regarding Public Purpose Funds, so maybe an update is coming on or about January, 2020.)
  • There is, in fact, no "self-guided tour," just a partial list of highlights that skips RIVAA and the Cultural Center, a map that leaves off the Meditation Steps and fails to highlight either Promenade.
  • Finally, for highlights that emphasize the composers unfamiliarity with Roosevelt Island, you can look away from the skimpy, incomplete description of Cornell Tech, but casual errors in titles for "Southpoint Openspace" and, repeatedly, "FDR Four Freedoms State Park" are just strange and careless. They even get Southpoint Park right in the narrative but wrong on the map.
Hey, RIOC, is anyone home?
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