Modern Living: The Little Apple

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The pioneering residents are delighted with their tranquil, crime-free existence but are concerned about the changes that the tramway and a subway connection—planned for 1984 —will bring. Chief Planner Diane Porter, 34, a savvy urbanologist who has worked on the island since 1971, has no such fears. "We are not just renting apartments," she says, "we are renting a whole lifestyle. It's a very small town, and you have to like people to live here. It's not the cold, anonymous place people think New York is." Meaning that no man who lives on one is an island —even in New York City.

Roosevelt Island's aerial tramway will operate from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, with departures every five minutes at rush hours. Last week Senior Writer Michael Demarest made a round-trip crossing on one of the two red cable cars. His report:

Cabin Two began its stately ascent noiselessly and almost imperceptibly. The 18,300-lb. C-2 reached a top speed of 16.3 m.p.h. and a peak altitude of 250 ft.—providing a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline. We touched down on R.I. after a flight of 3,134 ft. and 3½ min. Each of the Swiss-built cars carries up to 125 straphangers, at 50¢ a head. In case of a power failure, a huge diesel auxiliary drive system on the island can be put into action within five minutes, says the island's chief engineer, David Ozerkis. If the tram's driving mechanism breaks down, a red steel cage can be run out from the island to disembark stranded passengers. Wind speeds are constantly checked; service is stopped if gusts reach 45 m.p.h. On C-2's return trip, winds caused the tram to tilt 1° to starboard, according to the onboard inclinometer. "Not feeling seasick?" asked Engineer Ozerkis. "Or airsick?" If we had said yes, he would doubtless have passed out Tramamine.

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