The Six Landmarks of Roosevelt Island

The Smallpox Hospital is just one of six historic landmarked structures that still exist on Roosevelt Island today. Each of these structures has been deemed as architecturally, historically, and culturally significant by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. A brief history of the six structures is presented here for you. Whether you live on the Island or are simply paying a visit, we encourage you to visit these beautiful buildings. You will certainly see why New York City officials deem them as worthy of preservation.


  1. Smallpox Hospital

  2. Strecker Memorial Laboratory

  3. Blackwell House

  4. Chapel of the Good Shepherd

  5. The Octagon

  6. The Lighthouse

1. The Smallpox Hospital was designed by James Renwick, Jr. and opened in 1856. It was abandoned in the 1950s and is a ruin. The structure is located with Southpoint Park, directly north of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park.

2. Strecker Memorial Laboratory was constructed in 1892 and served as the island pathology laboratory and was designed by Frederick Clarke Withers and Walter Dickson. It fell into ruin but was fully restored in 2002 and is now a New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority sub-station. It is located within Southpoint Park on the southern end of the island.

3. The Blackwell House was the residence for the Blackwell family, then owners of the island. The structure was completed circa 1796 and the architect is unknown. The structure was restored in 1973. The building is closed to the public, but is occasionally opened for private tours. The house is located on the southern end of Main Street.

4. The Chapel of the Good Shepherd was built in 1888 to serve on-island prisoners. Designed by Frederick Clarke Withers, the chapel closed in 1958. In 1975, it was restored and it was reopened to the public. It is located on Main Street and now functions predominantly as a community center and church.

5. The Octagon served as the main hub of the on-island lunatic asylum. Designed in 1839 by Alexander Jackson Davis, the building was abandoned in 1955. In 2006, developer Becker + Becker restored the building and converted it into a residential community. The building is located at the intersection of Road 10 and Main Street on the northern end of the island.

6. The Lighthouse was built in 1872 in order to illuminate the on-island asylum and the northern tip of the island. James Renwick, Jr. was the supervising architect and the structure is located within Lighthouse Park on the northernmost point of the island.