December 3, 2022

New York is full of islands, some of which are off-limits. The island is called U Thant Island, and despite its small size, it has a rich history.

U Thant Island is an artificial island in the Manhattan borough of New York City. The island was originally named Belmont Island, but was renamed in 1977. This tiny islet, created during the construction of the Steinway Tunnel, is 30 x 60 meters and is located in the East River, south of Roosevelt Island.

An artificial island in the East River with a shaft leading down to the Belmont Tunnel below the creek, where “sandhogs” ( workers who work in underwater or underground excavation and construction) are bored day and night.

This small island was created in the 1890s as part of William Steinway’s tunnel project to link Astoria and Manhattan. Waste from the construction site formed a reef that rose out of the water over time.

Steinway died before the work was completed, leaving August Belmont Jr. to carry the project forward. The small island was first named Belmont. When the project failed, the island was abandoned.

A United Nations group called Peace Meditation, which included UN officials and guru Sri Chinmoy, took the site into consideration in 1977. The island was renamed and took the name of former UN Secretary-General U Thant, a close friend of Chinmoy.

Public access is prohibited because the island is a protected area for migratory birds, including a small colony of double-crested cormorants.

The immediate area around the island is home to large quantities of striped bass, making this part of New York popular with fishermen.