New hotel offers unique NYC escape — no smallpox or criminal record necessary

New hotel offers unique NYC escape — no smallpox or criminal record necessary

Back in the day, a trip to Roosevelt Island — then known as Blackwell’s Island — meant your life had taken a bad turn: You were headed to Blackwell Penitentiary, the New York Lunatic Asylum, the alms (poor) house, or the Smallpox Hospital. That was in the 1800s, when New York City began purchasing islands around Manhattan to house rehabilitation institutions. If you were bound for prison, at least you were in good company — inmates included performer Mae West, singer Billie Holliday, and corrupt politician “Boss” Tweed. The insane asylum had its own in-house celebrity (unbeknownst to them), 23-year-old reporter Nellie Bly, who went undercover as a patient in 1887 and wrote an explosive expose for the New York World, “Ten Days in a Madhouse.” Roosevelt Island today is …
More on: www.bostonglobe.com