Ward's Island, Manhattan : NYC Tourist Guide

Ward's Island, Manhattan, in NYC, New York, USA

Home » Manhattan » Neighborhoods » Ward's Island » Info

Ward's Island, Manhattan, New York City

Getting Started


NYC Neighborhoods

Staten Island

NYC Icons

Chrysler Building
Flatiron Building
Empire State Building

Safe NYC


NYC Weather

NYC Climate
NYC Weather Forecast
Winter Season
Spring Season
Summer Season
Fall Season

NYC History & Politics

New York City History
Tammany Hall and Politics
New York City Politicians
New York City Personalities

Culture of Gotham City

Culture of the city
Cultural diversity
City in popular culture

Ward's Island
Ward's Island is situated in the East River in New York City. Administratively it is part of the borough of Manhattan. It is bridged by rail to the borough of Queens by the Hell Gate Bridge and it is joined to Randall's Island to the north by landfill. The two Islands together are run by the Randall's Island Sports Foundation under a partnership agreement with the New York City Department of Parks. Together, the two islands form New York County's Census Tract 240, which had a total population of 1,386 living on 2.2 km˛ of land area, according to the United States Census, 2000.

The viaducts leading to the Triborough and Hell Gate bridges pass overhead. Vehicular access is by road from Randall's Island, while a narrow pedestrian bridge, Ward's Island Bridge, links the island to the east side of Manhattan in Harlem.

The island is home to several public facilities, including Manhattan Psychiatric Center, Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center (which serves the criminally insane), and a sewage treatment plant. It is also home to Ward's Island Park which offers stunning views, athletic fields, and picnic grounds.


At the time of its appropriation from New York's native inhabitants to the Dutch settlers in 1637, the island was known as "Tenkenas" which translated to "Wild Lands."

Later, the island's name changed several times. At times it was known as "Buchanan's Island" and "Great Barn Island," both of which were likely corruptions of the surname "Barendt," the name of an early owner.

During the Revolutionary War the island served as a military post for the British military.

After the war ended, Jaspar Ward and Bartholomew Ward took ownership of the island that later carried their surname. Although a small population had lived on the island since as early as the 17th century, the Ward brothers developed the island more heavily by building a cotton mill and building the first bridge to cross the East River in 1807, connecting the island with Manhattan at 114th Street.

The bridge, paid for by Bartholomew Ward and Philip Milledolar, was a wooden drawbridge. The bridge lasted until 1821, when it was destroyed in a storm.

After the bridge was destroyed, the island was largely abandoned until 1840, when the island was transformed into a dumping ground for everything unwanted in New York City. Between 1840 and 1930 the island was used for:

Burial of hundreds of thousands of bodies relocated from the Madison Square and Bryant Park graveyards.
The State Emigrant Refuge, a hospital for sick and destitute immigrants, opened in 1847, the biggest hospital complex in the world during the 1850s.
The New York City Asylum for the Insane, opened around 1863.
An immigration station from 1860 until the 1892 opening of Ellis Island.
Manhattan State Hospital, operated by the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene when it took over the immigration and asylum buildings in 1899. With 4,400 patients, it was the largest psychiatric institution in the world. It later became the Manhattan Psychiatric Center

Ward's Island began to change when the 1930 Metropolitan Conference of Parks recommended transforming Randall's and Ward's Islands into recreational parks. Robert Moses (1888-1981), Parks Commissioner in 1934, announced the plans for developing Ward's Island. The city would connect it to Randall's Island just to the north and it would be cleared for playing fields and promenades.

The creation of the park was followed by the development of the Triborough Bridge, starting in 1936 and lasting seven years, and the building of the Ward's Island Water Pollution Control Plant, which was built in 1937 and occupies nearly one quarter of the island.

The current pedestrian bridge connecting the island to Manhattan was built in 1951. It was designed to give access to Ward Island Park to East Harlem, which has few public green spaces.

This is NYC

New York City Neighborhoods

NYC has a rich history in diversity and the city as a whole is nothing more than many small neighborhoods. Explore it with us..

NYC Neighborhoods
Manhattan Island

NYC Waterfronts & Beaches

NYC's waterfront is roughly 600 miles long and the overall form of the Harbor has remained unchanged from the time of Giovanni da Verrazzano. Learn more about the harbor, its shores and its waterways.

NYC Waterfronts
New York City Beaches

History and Politics of NYC

Did you know that New York City was briefly the U.S. capital during 1789-90 and was state capital until 1797?

New York City History
Tammany Hall and Politics
New York City Politicians

Culture of Gotham City

The culture of NYC is shaped by centuries of immigration, the city's size and variety, and its status as the cultural capital of the United States.

Culture of the city
Cultural diversity
City in popular culture

Travel & Transportation

The dominant mode of transportation in New York City is mass transit - Subways and Buses. However, it is the Taxicabs that are real New York icons!

Safety & Security

How safe is New York City? Contrary to popular belief, the City consistantly ranks in the top ten safest large cities in the United States. The NYPD is the largest municipal police force in the world and has it's own Movie/TV Unit.

New York Climate

New York has a humid continental climate resulting from prevailing wind patterns that bring cool air from the interior of the North American continent. New York winters are typically cold with moderate snowfall.
New York Weather Forecast


New York's two key demographic features are its density and diversity. The New York City metropolitan area is home to the largest Jewish community outside Israel. It is also home to nearly a quarter of the nation's South Asians, and the largest African American community of any city in the country.
Ethnic composition

New York Newspapers

Niagara Falls Express: Overnight Tour from New York Romance Over Manhattan Private Helicopter Flight

home | get listed | privacy policy | site map back to top

Quick Links to Neighborhoods » Manhattan | Bronx | Brooklyn | Queens | Staten Island

Website: © 2004-08 NYCTouristGuide.com All Rights Reserved. Permission must be secured prior to duplication of any content, including images.
All Photos: © 2000-2007 Nishanth Gopinathan | StockPhotographs.org, unless otherwise credited. All International Rights Reserved.

Hosting: PixvieweRTM Web Hosting | Web Design: Live EyesTM (LiveEyes.org)